parties

organizing fun gatherings

Anonymous said to :

Ever since my depression got better, I been doing more leading in get-togethers. Like inviting people over to my house and suggesting what we’re going to do. But I feel like people don’t have as much fun at my activities as those led by my other friends. I take a lot of input on what we do, and I tell funny jokes.

Is there anything else I can do when leading a group, formally or informally, to help people relax and have fun?

realsocialskills said:

I think you might be pushing yourself too hard.

If people are having fun and liking your get-togethers, that’s success. You don’t have to be the best or the most fun for what you’re doing to be good enough. It’s not a contest, and it’s ok if you’re not as skilled at throwing parties as some of your friends. It’s a skill set that you can develop over time.

That said, from the way you’ve described things, it sounds like your gatherings might be happening this way:

  • You invite people over
  • They come over
  • You spend time deciding together what to do
  • Then you do the thing together

If you’re doing it that way, it might be making your gatherings less fun than they could be. Negotiating with a group about what to do isn’t very much fun, and it can set the tone for the gathering being less fun.

Also, if you don’t pick the activity in advance, there will usually be someone who wanted to hang out who doesn’t want to do the activity that the group decides on. That person usually won’t be very happy, and that can make things less fun for everyone.

If that’s how you’re doing it, your gatherings are likely to become more fun if you decide on an activity in advance, like this:

  • Pick something that you and some friends like
  • Invite them to come do that thing with you
  • People who want to hang out and want to do that thing will come
  • People who don’t want to, won’t come
  • There won’t be any tiresome negotiation phase of the gathering
  • No one will be stuck in an unanticipated activity that they don’t enjoy

Some examples of activities you can decide on in advance:

  • A game night (either a specific game, or whatever games people decide to bring)
  • Going to the new Exciting Movie in a series you like
  • Going out to dinner together
  • A dinner party at your place
  • Getting together for movies and popcorn at your place (better if you pick the type of movie in advance, or maybe even the actual movie)
  • (Here’s a post about things some people like to do at Halloween parties)

In any case, organizing fun gatherings is a skill, and you’ll get better at it as you get more experience. You don’t have to be perfect or the best for your gatherings to count as successful. If you like them and most of the people who come like them, that’s success.

tl;dr Picking an activity in advance and inviting people to do it is likely to be more fun than gathering a group of people and deciding together what to do.

How to talk to strangers in social situations

It’s ok and socially expected to initiate conversations with strangers at certain kinds of gatherings. If a lot of people who don’t know each other are at the same gathering, and there is a social element to the gathering, it’s considered normal to initiate conversations with strangers.

Some examples of this type of environment:

  • Parties
  • Conferences
  • Freshman orientation
  • Kiddush after services at a synagogue

A script that usually works well for initiating conversation with a stranger:

  • You: Hi, I’m [Your name].
  • They will usually reply: I’m [their name].
  • Then the next thing you do is ask them a question that is slightly, but not very, personal based on the context
  • Then they usually answer and ask you the same question
  • This tends to result in you discovering something of mutual interest and having a conversation

Some examples of contextually appropriate questions:

  • If you’re at a party someone is throwing: “How do you know [host’s name]” usually works
  • (Even if they don’t actually know the host, this still usually works because they can answer something like “Actually, I came here with my friend.”)
  • If you’re at a conference: “What brings you here?” usually works. (And will usually get to an area of mutual interest quickly, since being at the same conference with someone implies that you care about some of the same things).
  • This is a better question than “What do you do?” because asking about someone’s job as an initial question is often interpreted as you asking them “Are you high status enough that I should bother talking to you?”. “What brings you here?” is more neutral
  • If you’re at a kiddush at a synagogue: “Are you a member here?” usually works, so long as you’re not asking it in an accusatory tone. 
  • If there’s a bat or bat mitzvah, “Are you relatives of the bar/bat mitzvah?” usually works (even if you’re not and they’re not. The question works no matter what the answer is
  • At freshman orientation or similar: “Where are you from?” usually works well as an initial question.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve met before, you can still introduce yourself. This is a script that works:

  • “I’m not sure if we’ve met before - I’m kind of bad with faces. I’m [Your name]”.
  • Then, if they don’t know you, you can use the usual script.
  • And if they do know you, then they’ll usually explain the context you know them in.
  • And then you can talk about that.

tl;dr It’s ok (and can be fun) to initiate conversations with strangers at parties and conferences and suchlike. Scroll up for some scripts.

Anyone else want to weigh in? What are some initial questions that work in other contexts?

Halloween when you're too old for trick or treating and don't like drunken parties

do you or your followers know of any social acceptable ways for teenagers to celebrate halloween? my friends and i are 18-20, so unfortunately I feel too old to be trick-or-treating, and none of us like to drink or go to those kinds of parties. do you have any ideas? thank you.
 realsocialskills said:
 
Many people your age like to go to haunted houses around this time of year. In a haunted house, you walk through and look at spooking things and various actors scare you. Most areas have at least a couple of haunted houses. There are also haunted hayrides, which are similar except that they are outdoors and you ride through them rather than walking through them.
 
Many zoos and museums have Halloween events. Most of them are primarily targeted towards children, but some of them also welcome adults. If there are zoos and museums in your areas, you can find out about their programs on their websites.
 
Different cities have different events. If you google “[your city] Halloween events” you might find something interesting. Here’s a page of events for Philadelphia.
 
Some people your age enjoy going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween. I don’t really know how to explain what that is or why people like it. But here’s a link to the Wikipedia page, and a fan page that can tell you where to find a showing.
 
That said, a party is also an option. Parties don’t have to be drunken, large, or crowded. They can be a small group of friends getting together to do something they enjoy.
 
The party can be a Halloween party just because it is a party and it is on  Halloween. (Maybe with Halloween-related decorations or food). You can also do Halloween-specific things.
   Some things that some people enjoy doing at Halloween parties:
  • Telling ghost stories in the dark
  • Wearing costumes
  • Painting each others’ faces
  • Having a bonfire and roasting marshmallows
  • Carving and lighting jack-o-lanterns
  • Making pumpkin pie, or just eating it
  • Eating other pumpkin-based foods
  • Eating and/or making Halloween-themed cookies (you can buy tubes of dough to slice and cook if you’d like to make cookies but don’t want to do complicated baking)
  • Watching horror movies
  • Watching Halloween-related movies (Nightmare Before Christmas is a good one.) or Halloween episodes of shows you like
 You can also take things you already like and make them Halloween-themed in some way. Eg: If you write stories together, write them about black cats. If you play roleplaying games, play a Halloween scenario. If you like playing Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, make a bunch of Halloween-themed cards and add them to your deck.
 
Other people reading this who want to do something other than trick or treating, drinking, or the stereotypical college student Halloween party - what do you like to do on Halloween?

rollerderbyandotherheartbreakers:

realsocialskills:

aura218:

realsocialskills:

aura218:

realsocialskills:

lady-brain:

realsocialskills:

 chavisory answered: If you’re having wine, have some soda or cider too in case there are people who avoid alcohol. Hard cider is also a nice alternative to beer

realsocialskills said:

That’s an important point. If you’re having a gathering that includes alcohol, it’s important to have non-alcoholic drinks too. 

A lot of people avoid alcohol for various reasons, and you don’t always know who they are.

And even people who drink often find it easier to avoid drinking too much if there are non-alcoholics drinks available.

Also, consider who you are inviting when you’re deciding whether to have alcohol. If you’re inviting people who tend to be really obnoxious when they’re drunk, it might be better to stick with soft drinks.

lady-brain said:

I would suggest, if you are a host, letting all invitees know ahead of time explicitly whether or not there will be alcohol (or drugs, or anything else people might want to avoid or be forewarned about) at your event.

I’m a sober alcoholic, I appreciate knowing whether there will be alcohol so I can make the decision whether or not I am able to attend the event. I understand when people require alcohol/other substances to socialize/feel safe (especially since I used it for anxiety myself), so I know that not all my spaces can be alcohol-free, and I don’t require that. What I do require is a heads-up, because I am not comfortable around alcohol all the time, around all people, in all locations. It depends, and I need to make the call myself. I can’t do that if I don’t have that information.

realsocialskills said:

I agree this is an important thing to do, but I don’t know of a polite way to do it. Do you know of one?

aura218 said:

I’m in recovery. I usually blame not drinking on “a bad stomach” or “It interferes with my medication” or “I don’t want to drink or an empty stomach” or “I exercised today, I really need to hydrate.” 

Remember that having a drink in your hand makes you appear social, so just holding soda will ward off anyone asking why you’re not drinking. You don’t have to keep drinking it and filling it up. Also, bottles of water, coffee, and tea are a socially acceptable alternative; water is healthy, and coffee or tea can be explained as you being tired and needing to perk up to socialize, since alcohol makes you sleepy.

If you’re driving, you always have that out. If you’re a woman, you can always say “I’m leaving soon, I want to be alert to walk to the subway” and who cares if you’e not leaving for an hour. IF anyone says “I thought you were going,” you can always say “I thought i was, but I’m having such a great time!”

But really, you don’t need to explain why you’re not drinking. Just, “I’ll have a soda/water/coffee, thanks” should be reason enough (and remember you don’t have to drink it, just hold it). No one needs to know your medical history and it’s rude to insult the drinks that the host chose, so no one expects you to overexplain why you aren’t drinking. “I don’t want to drink tonight” is fine.

realsocialskills said:

I absolutely agree that no one has to explain to anyone else why they aren’t drinking. What I meant is that I don’t know how to politely warn people that there will be alcohol at a party.

Those sound like good suggestions for deflecting pushy people though.

The one I’m a bit hesitant about is saying that you want to be alert to walk to the subway, though. Because then what do you do if a guy who is giving off creepy vibes says “Don’t worry about that, I’ll walk with you?” It strikes me as likely to open the can of worms rather than close it. Have you used this one successfully?

aura218 said:

Sorry, yeah, I just woke up when I replied to this, and I didn’t realize til later that the question was for the party HOST, not the party guest. 

I’ve used this one successfully with friendly people who agree that drinking isn’t a good thing to do near the end of the night if you’re leaving soon. I don’t have the kind of friends who creep on me, and I don’t talk loudly to announce my issues to the whole party. Always protect your privacy - my responses were intended for the person who’s pouring your drink. 

I wouldn’t broadcast that I’m walking home alone on dark scary streets to someone who is giving off creepy vibes. If someone seems that way to me, I either don’t talk to them, or I get away from them. I don’t have a problem being a bitch to someone I think isn’t worth my time, but other people aren’t like that.

As for the original question, it depends on the party, and other people have given good responses. Most parties and dinners are assumed to have a mix of alcohol and soft drinks. The only good way I can think of to warn people is to say something like “Drinks and appetizers will be served at x o’clock.” Or talking about the menu in general and including the drinks as well as the food.

realsocialskills said:

I think that’s my concern about explicitly stating that there will be alcohol. The presence of alcohol at adult gatherings is so assumed that saying that there will be alcohol implies that there will be *more* alcohol than usual.

This is not a message you want to send unless you really are trying to have that kind of party. Especially if your social group has one of those guys who is really into getting people to do shots with him. (I’m not sure why, but a lot of social group seem to have someone like that.)

rollerderbyandotherheartbreakers said:

I think it really depends on how much drinking is going to factor into the party. Is it a “living room” event or is it a backyard-with-a-keg type event. Either one can just be told upfront:

“We’ll have some beer & wine, and soft drinks, but please feel free to BYOB”

or

“We will have a cash bar for alcoholic drinks, non-alcoholic drinks are free" 

If you don’t want to drink you can also tell them something vague about “a cleanse” or how it doesn’t fit with your athletic/health goals. I frequently go for long periods of time without drinking and people are very accepting of this as a reason (it is a true reason for me, but feel free to lie as well). Example of when offered a drink: “No thanks! I would love to but I am working on getting a better 5K run time and I just find that drinking makes me really sluggish for my running. We’ll get together for a drink soon though!” 


if you want to have an alcohol-free event with friends that normally drink, then tell them explicitly in the invitation - “hey guys! I am having a get together, but want to keep it alcohol-free [insert reason here  ONLY if you want]. I am going to have some really great punch recipes made, and if you want to bring an alcohol-free drink to try I would be really into it! Please let me know if you have any questions”.

And leave it at that - if guests or hosts harass you about drinking alcohol stop talking to them and hang out with someone else at the party. Or leave the party and stop going to parties at that person’s house in the future. 

aura218:

realsocialskills:

aura218:

realsocialskills:

lady-brain:

realsocialskills:

 chavisory answered: If you’re having wine, have some soda or cider too in case there are people who avoid alcohol. Hard cider is also a nice alternative to beer

realsocialskills said:

That’s an important point. If you’re having a gathering that includes alcohol, it’s important to have non-alcoholic drinks too. 

A lot of people avoid alcohol for various reasons, and you don’t always know who they are.

And even people who drink often find it easier to avoid drinking too much if there are non-alcoholics drinks available.

Also, consider who you are inviting when you’re deciding whether to have alcohol. If you’re inviting people who tend to be really obnoxious when they’re drunk, it might be better to stick with soft drinks.

lady-brain said:

I would suggest, if you are a host, letting all invitees know ahead of time explicitly whether or not there will be alcohol (or drugs, or anything else people might want to avoid or be forewarned about) at your event.

I’m a sober alcoholic, I appreciate knowing whether there will be alcohol so I can make the decision whether or not I am able to attend the event. I understand when people require alcohol/other substances to socialize/feel safe (especially since I used it for anxiety myself), so I know that not all my spaces can be alcohol-free, and I don’t require that. What I do require is a heads-up, because I am not comfortable around alcohol all the time, around all people, in all locations. It depends, and I need to make the call myself. I can’t do that if I don’t have that information.

realsocialskills said:

I agree this is an important thing to do, but I don’t know of a polite way to do it. Do you know of one?

aura218 said:

I’m in recovery. I usually blame not drinking on “a bad stomach” or “It interferes with my medication” or “I don’t want to drink or an empty stomach” or “I exercised today, I really need to hydrate.” 

Remember that having a drink in your hand makes you appear social, so just holding soda will ward off anyone asking why you’re not drinking. You don’t have to keep drinking it and filling it up. Also, bottles of water, coffee, and tea are a socially acceptable alternative; water is healthy, and coffee or tea can be explained as you being tired and needing to perk up to socialize, since alcohol makes you sleepy.

If you’re driving, you always have that out. If you’re a woman, you can always say “I’m leaving soon, I want to be alert to walk to the subway” and who cares if you’e not leaving for an hour. IF anyone says “I thought you were going,” you can always say “I thought i was, but I’m having such a great time!”

But really, you don’t need to explain why you’re not drinking. Just, “I’ll have a soda/water/coffee, thanks” should be reason enough (and remember you don’t have to drink it, just hold it). No one needs to know your medical history and it’s rude to insult the drinks that the host chose, so no one expects you to overexplain why you aren’t drinking. “I don’t want to drink tonight” is fine.

realsocialskills said:

I absolutely agree that no one has to explain to anyone else why they aren’t drinking. What I meant is that I don’t know how to politely warn people that there will be alcohol at a party.

Those sound like good suggestions for deflecting pushy people though.

The one I’m a bit hesitant about is saying that you want to be alert to walk to the subway, though. Because then what do you do if a guy who is giving off creepy vibes says “Don’t worry about that, I’ll walk with you?” It strikes me as likely to open the can of worms rather than close it. Have you used this one successfully?

aura218 said:

Sorry, yeah, I just woke up when I replied to this, and I didn’t realize til later that the question was for the party HOST, not the party guest. 

I’ve used this one successfully with friendly people who agree that drinking isn’t a good thing to do near the end of the night if you’re leaving soon. I don’t have the kind of friends who creep on me, and I don’t talk loudly to announce my issues to the whole party. Always protect your privacy - my responses were intended for the person who’s pouring your drink. 

I wouldn’t broadcast that I’m walking home alone on dark scary streets to someone who is giving off creepy vibes. If someone seems that way to me, I either don’t talk to them, or I get away from them. I don’t have a problem being a bitch to someone I think isn’t worth my time, but other people aren’t like that.

As for the original question, it depends on the party, and other people have given good responses. Most parties and dinners are assumed to have a mix of alcohol and soft drinks. The only good way I can think of to warn people is to say something like “Drinks and appetizers will be served at x o’clock.” Or talking about the menu in general and including the drinks as well as the food.

realsocialskills said:

I think that’s my concern about explicitly stating that there will be alcohol. The presence of alcohol at adult gatherings is so assumed that saying that there will be alcohol implies that there will be *more* alcohol than usual.

This is not a message you want to send unless you really are trying to have that kind of party. Especially if your social group has one of those guys who is really into getting people to do shots with him. (I’m not sure why, but a lot of social group seem to have someone like that.)

lady-brain:

realsocialskills:

mystrich:

realsocialskills:

lady-brain:

realsocialskills:

 chavisory answered: If you’re having wine, have some soda or cider too in case there are people who avoid alcohol. Hard cider is also a nice alternative to beer

realsocialskills said:

That’s an important point. If you’re having a gathering that includes alcohol, it’s important to have non-alcoholic drinks too. 

A lot of people avoid alcohol for various reasons, and you don’t always know who they are.

And even people who drink often find it easier to avoid drinking too much if there are non-alcoholics drinks available.

Also, consider who you are inviting when you’re deciding whether to have alcohol. If you’re inviting people who tend to be really obnoxious when they’re drunk, it might be better to stick with soft drinks.

lady-brain said:

I would suggest, if you are a host, letting all invitees know ahead of time explicitly whether or not there will be alcohol (or drugs, or anything else people might want to avoid or be forewarned about) at your event.

I’m a sober alcoholic, I appreciate knowing whether there will be alcohol so I can make the decision whether or not I am able to attend the event. I understand when people require alcohol/other substances to socialize/feel safe (especially since I used it for anxiety myself), so I know that not all my spaces can be alcohol-free, and I don’t require that. What I do require is a heads-up, because I am not comfortable around alcohol all the time, around all people, in all locations. It depends, and I need to make the call myself. I can’t do that if I don’t have that information.

realsocialskills said:

I agree this is an important thing to do, but I don’t know of a polite way to do it. Do you know of one?

Mystrich said:

First of all, please do not ever ever use alcohol as a way to handle your anxiety. It makes anxiety worse in the long run.


Second of all: It’s pretty simple, just put “No Alcohol Allowed/No Alcohol Please.” I don’t think anyone will take offense to that. Or “There will be alcohol.” I see that on most party invites/facebook events.

realsocialskills said:

Oh dear, I just realized it could look like I was endorsing that comment. I was actually not paying attention to that part of it because I don’t understand uses of alcohol well enough to comment on any of them.

(And since I don’t understand, I’m probably not going to be having a discussion here on uses of alcohol any time soon - I’m not qualified to moderate it and I don’t want to have a lot of things I don’t understand on my blog.)

Getting back to the issue of alerting people. I think it’s easier to say that there won’t be alcohol than that there will be. The problem with saying that there will be alcohol is that it can sound like it’s a drunken party even when what you really mean is that it’s a dinner and some people might have a beer or glass of wine or two.

I’m not sure what to do about that.

lady-brain said:

Going to be honest, that person can actually fuck off with “First of all, please do not ever ever use alcohol as a way to handle your anxiety”!! Like, not their place to ever say that to anybody, ever. Here’s a social skill lesson: if you think you are allowed to just decide what other people can and cannot use for anxiety/dysphoria/etc and feel the right to voice your opinion- you’re wrong! That’s concern trolling and that’s a shitty thing to do and it’s not anybody else’s business what other people need to do to cope. That person literally said to me, a sober alcoholic who’s been through the whole “being an alcoholic” thing, “you did a thing and I have decided the thing is wrong to me so I’m judging you on it” and if they think that’s at all an appropriate thing to say to me they are not a nice person and I don’t have to accept their opinion at all.

As for telling people there will be alcohol- literally just say, “by the way, we’re going to be having drinks, but we’re providing!” or “we’re going to be having drinks, feel free to bring something you like” or “everyone’s invited to bring their favourite wine” or “we’re going to have some casual drinks on the deck” or “we’re going to have a wine and cheese thing on Thursday” or “we’re going out for drinks at the bar afterwards” or any number of ways to say “there will be alcohol”. Damn, just say “there will be alcohol”. If you’re more afraid of sounding like an alcoholic than helping an actual alcoholic with her boundaries, maybe you aren’t mature enough to be drinking anyways.

realsocialskills said:

You are absolutely right about that comment; it was horrid concern trolling. I don’t know what I was thinking reblogging that. I’m sorry. I will be more careful in the future.

Your suggestions for how to politely warn people about alcohol are good.

My concern about “There will be alcohol” isn’t that it makes the host look like an alcoholic; it’s that it can be taken as an indication that drunkenness is welcome and that it would be ok to bring and consume large amounts of hard drinks. When people have that impression, it can mess up a gathering really badly really quickly.

That said, I agree with you that saying “there will be alcohol” is much better than saying nothing, especially if you know it might be a problem for one of the people you’re inviting.

Having people over for dinner

aura218:

realsocialskills:

dinosaurusrachelus:

realsocialskills:

One potentially enjoyable form of interaction is to have people over for dinner.

Some ways this can be good:

  • Eating together can make conversation easier
  • Since it creates an activity and a focus
  • But it doesn’t take up all the attention; you can still talk
  • Eating at home can be cheaper than going out
  • It can also be less overloading, since your place is probably less noisy than a restaurant 
  • It can also be more private, because you’re less likely to run into unwelcome people, and because there aren’t as many people around who could overhear

Some things about guests:

  • Invite people who you like
  • Invite people who like each other
  • It’s not very much fun to hang out with a group of folks who dislike one another, even if you like all of them separately
  • Don’t invite too many people. It’s much more fun to have dinner with a group of people that’s a comfortable size for you
  • It’s often considered rude to invite someone but not their partner, with two major exceptions:
  • If you’re hosting a single-gender event and their partner isn’t the relevant gender, or:
  • If you’re hosting an esoteric interest gathering and it’s something only one of them likes. (Eg: If you’re having a party for people who like to talk about spiders, it’s probably ok to not invite a partner who hate spiders)

Some points about food etiquette: 

If you are in your 20s and living in the US, it’s likely that you’re in a culture in which it’s normal for guests to bring some of the food. (This is different from a potluck, which is a communally-hosted kind of meal at which no one person has primary responsibility for making the food. I’m planning to write a different post about that later.)

If you are invited over for a meal:

  • It’s considered polite to offer to bring something
  • The most polite way to ask is to say something along the lines of “What can I bring?” because it suggests that you’re expecting to bring something rather than hoping they’ll tell you not to bring anything
  • If they say not to bring anything, don’t
  • Some people prefer that you don’t, or might have cultural or medical reasons to want control over the food that’s in their space
  • Also, in some cultures it’s considered rude, so if someone doesn’t want you to bring something, it’s important to respect that

If you are doing the inviting:

  • It’s usually considered rude to ask people to bring things if they haven’t explicitly offered to
  • If people offer, it’s ok to assume that they mean it, and to ask them to bring something
  • But be reasonable about it. Don’t ask people to bring something expensive or complicated unless you are planning the meal together and hosting jointly
  • It’s usually considered reasonable to ask someone to bring one of these things: bread, wine, salad, soda/juice, or a dessert

Some specific things about food:

  • You should make/buy a main dish that is filling and has protein of some sort
  • And also probably a side dish or two
  • And drinks of some sort - but it’s ok if it’s mostly water
  • Make sure you have enough plates/cups/knives/forks/spoons/etc for everyone
  • Find out if people you’re inviting are allergic to anything
  • If you are serving meat, find out if there are any vegetarians
  • If some people are vegetarian, it’s nice to make a vegetarian protein in addition to the main meat dish
  • But in any case, at least make sure that some things don’t contain meat (eg: don’t put bacon bits on the salad or use lard to make a pie)

This is a good kind of gathering. Are there other things people should know about how to do it?

dinosaurusrachelus said:

Depending on the type of event and the age of participants, it’s often considered polite to bring a bottle of wine even if the host says you don’t need to bring anything. It’s not a thing you have to do, but if you’re able to afford it and think it would be appreciated by the host and other guests, it’s nice. Providing alcohol for a gathering or dinner can get expensive quickly, so it’s a nice way to take some of that burden off a host without making them ask you to.

In addition to vegetarians, it might be nice to ask if anyone’s vegan, gluten free or lactose intolerant, since those are fairly common dietary restrictions. Most vegans are used to not having a ton of options and will often gladly eat side dishes or salad in my experience, but it’s polite to ask so you can make minor modifications to dishes. For example, if you were going to make a salad with greens, nuts, feta and dressing, you could put the feta on the side if someone’s vegan so they’re still able to eat the salad.

realsocialskills said:

It can be polite to bring wine, but be careful about that. It can put the host in a bad position if they’ve intentionally decided not to serve alcohol and you show up with an unexpected bottle of wine.

Agreed about other dietary issues. That’s a good thing to do.

I don’t know if this is a thing? But? A friend of mine hosted a potluck, and she brought out each dish *individually.* Like, courses? It was super-awkward, because people brought different amounts of each dish, like an enormous pasta dish and then a small fish dish. And then the dinner dragged on forever, and some dishes weren’t served at the right temperatures. Plus, it made people feel obligated to eat things they didn’t want, just because everyone was passing the plate around and it seemed rude not to take it. 

So, don’t do this. Either make the dinner a buffet (which is the easiest type of party for everyone, imo, both practically and emotionally) or put out all the dishes at once. It doesnt’ matter if all the food doesn’t go together, people can decide how they want to eat, or they can get up for seconds if they don’t want to eat two particular flavors together.

Another thing: especially with a buffet or appetizers, plan for how people eat, including grazers. For example, if you put out shelled nuts or endamame, put out an empty bowl so people can discard the empty shells. If you have a communal pot of coffee, you can cut down on dishes by setting out a few stirring spoons on a saucer and one spoon in the sugar. Most people will have enough sense to spoon sugar with the dry sugar spoon, and stir with the wet stirring spoon, and then leave it on the saucer for the next person. 

When doing a buffet: tell people to arrive about 45 minutes before you set out dinner. Have appetizerrs set out at the arrival time. After everyone except people who are chronically late have arrived, announce that dinner is being put out (you can dispatch helpful people to round up far-flung guests outside, in the tv room, etc). About 45 minutes after dinner has started, start putting away perishables. Ask people if they want seconds, etc. Depending on what dessert is and the time-table for the party, dinner cleanup and dessert can happen anywhere from half an hour to two hours after that. 

If it’s a daytime party, brew coffee after dinner. There’s always people who get tired at parties or didn’t sleep well, or whatevever. Everyone likes coffee at parties.

if you’re making the invitation personally, you can say “we’ll be having dinner and a glass of wine at my place on thursday…” or “we’re going to have a few drinks and watch the game, you interested?” I’m not sure how well this would translate to a written invitation, is all
realsocialskills replied:
Those seem like phrases that would be ok on an evite or Facebook event too.
I think for formal events with printed invitation, the default assumption is that there will be alcohol unless it’s explicitly stated otherwise. Alcohol is part of formal event hosting culture.

aura218:

realsocialskills:

lady-brain:

realsocialskills:

 chavisory answered: If you’re having wine, have some soda or cider too in case there are people who avoid alcohol. Hard cider is also a nice alternative to beer

realsocialskills said:

That’s an important point. If you’re having a gathering that includes alcohol, it’s important to have non-alcoholic drinks too. 

A lot of people avoid alcohol for various reasons, and you don’t always know who they are.

And even people who drink often find it easier to avoid drinking too much if there are non-alcoholics drinks available.

Also, consider who you are inviting when you’re deciding whether to have alcohol. If you’re inviting people who tend to be really obnoxious when they’re drunk, it might be better to stick with soft drinks.

lady-brain said:

I would suggest, if you are a host, letting all invitees know ahead of time explicitly whether or not there will be alcohol (or drugs, or anything else people might want to avoid or be forewarned about) at your event.

I’m a sober alcoholic, I appreciate knowing whether there will be alcohol so I can make the decision whether or not I am able to attend the event. I understand when people require alcohol/other substances to socialize/feel safe (especially since I used it for anxiety myself), so I know that not all my spaces can be alcohol-free, and I don’t require that. What I do require is a heads-up, because I am not comfortable around alcohol all the time, around all people, in all locations. It depends, and I need to make the call myself. I can’t do that if I don’t have that information.

realsocialskills said:

I agree this is an important thing to do, but I don’t know of a polite way to do it. Do you know of one?

aura218 said:

I’m in recovery. I usually blame not drinking on “a bad stomach” or “It interferes with my medication” or “I don’t want to drink or an empty stomach” or “I exercised today, I really need to hydrate.” 

Remember that having a drink in your hand makes you appear social, so just holding soda will ward off anyone asking why you’re not drinking. You don’t have to keep drinking it and filling it up. Also, bottles of water, coffee, and tea are a socially acceptable alternative; water is healthy, and coffee or tea can be explained as you being tired and needing to perk up to socialize, since alcohol makes you sleepy.

If you’re driving, you always have that out. If you’re a woman, you can always say “I’m leaving soon, I want to be alert to walk to the subway” and who cares if you’e not leaving for an hour. IF anyone says “I thought you were going,” you can always say “I thought i was, but I’m having such a great time!”

But really, you don’t need to explain why you’re not drinking. Just, “I’ll have a soda/water/coffee, thanks” should be reason enough (and remember you don’t have to drink it, just hold it). No one needs to know your medical history and it’s rude to insult the drinks that the host chose, so no one expects you to overexplain why you aren’t drinking. “I don’t want to drink tonight” is fine.

realsocialskills said:

I absolutely agree that no one has to explain to anyone else why they aren’t drinking. What I meant is that I don’t know how to politely warn people that there will be alcohol at a party.

Those sound like good suggestions for deflecting pushy people though.

The one I’m a bit hesitant about is saying that you want to be alert to walk to the subway, though. Because then what do you do if a guy who is giving off creepy vibes says “Don’t worry about that, I’ll walk with you?” It strikes me as likely to open the can of worms rather than close it. Have you used this one successfully?

Content warning: I reblogged something from a concern troll and my reply sucked. I regret this post and many of you are probably better off skipping this one.

mystrich:

realsocialskills:

lady-brain:

realsocialskills:

 chavisory answered: If you’re having wine, have some soda or cider too in case there are people who avoid alcohol. Hard cider is also a nice alternative to beer

realsocialskills said:

That’s an important point. If you’re having a gathering that includes alcohol, it’s important to have non-alcoholic drinks too. 

A lot of people avoid alcohol for various reasons, and you don’t always know who they are.

And even people who drink often find it easier to avoid drinking too much if there are non-alcoholics drinks available.

Also, consider who you are inviting when you’re deciding whether to have alcohol. If you’re inviting people who tend to be really obnoxious when they’re drunk, it might be better to stick with soft drinks.

lady-brain said:

I would suggest, if you are a host, letting all invitees know ahead of time explicitly whether or not there will be alcohol (or drugs, or anything else people might want to avoid or be forewarned about) at your event.

I’m a sober alcoholic, I appreciate knowing whether there will be alcohol so I can make the decision whether or not I am able to attend the event. I understand when people require alcohol/other substances to socialize/feel safe (especially since I used it for anxiety myself), so I know that not all my spaces can be alcohol-free, and I don’t require that. What I do require is a heads-up, because I am not comfortable around alcohol all the time, around all people, in all locations. It depends, and I need to make the call myself. I can’t do that if I don’t have that information.

realsocialskills said:

I agree this is an important thing to do, but I don’t know of a polite way to do it. Do you know of one?

Mystrich said:

First of all, please do not ever ever use alcohol as a way to handle your anxiety. It makes anxiety worse in the long run.


Second of all: It’s pretty simple, just put “No Alcohol Allowed/No Alcohol Please.” I don’t think anyone will take offense to that. Or “There will be alcohol.” I see that on most party invites/facebook events.

realsocialskills said:

Oh dear, I just realized it could look like I was endorsing that comment. I was actually not paying attention to that part of it because I don’t understand uses of alcohol well enough to comment on any of them.

(And since I don’t understand, I’m probably not going to be having a discussion here on uses of alcohol any time soon - I’m not qualified to moderate it and I don’t want to have a lot of things I don’t understand on my blog.)

Getting back to the issue of alerting people. I think it’s easier to say that there won’t be alcohol than that there will be. The problem with saying that there will be alcohol is that it can sound like it’s a drunken party even when what you really mean is that it’s a dinner and some people might have a beer or glass of wine or two.

I’m not sure what to do about that.

lady-brain:

realsocialskills:

 chavisory answered: If you’re having wine, have some soda or cider too in case there are people who avoid alcohol. Hard cider is also a nice alternative to beer

realsocialskills said:

That’s an important point. If you’re having a gathering that includes alcohol, it’s important to have non-alcoholic drinks too. 

A lot of people avoid alcohol for various reasons, and you don’t always know who they are.

And even people who drink often find it easier to avoid drinking too much if there are non-alcoholics drinks available.

Also, consider who you are inviting when you’re deciding whether to have alcohol. If you’re inviting people who tend to be really obnoxious when they’re drunk, it might be better to stick with soft drinks.

lady-brain said:

I would suggest, if you are a host, letting all invitees know ahead of time explicitly whether or not there will be alcohol (or drugs, or anything else people might want to avoid or be forewarned about) at your event.

I’m a sober alcoholic, I appreciate knowing whether there will be alcohol so I can make the decision whether or not I am able to attend the event. I understand when people require alcohol/other substances to socialize/feel safe (especially since I used it for anxiety myself), so I know that not all my spaces can be alcohol-free, and I don’t require that. What I do require is a heads-up, because I am not comfortable around alcohol all the time, around all people, in all locations. It depends, and I need to make the call myself. I can’t do that if I don’t have that information.

realsocialskills said:

I agree this is an important thing to do, but I don’t know of a polite way to do it. Do you know of one?

Another example of conflation: Parties

Sometimes liking parties is perceived as general openness to going to parties:

  • Some people like parties; some people don’t
  • Some people like parties; but only of a certain size
  • Some people like parties; but only if their ex won’t be there.
  • Some people only like parties if they are topic-specific (like a board game party or a cooking party or a music-playing party)
  • Some people like most parties, and will almost always go if they like the people inviting them
  • Some people don’t like parties with alcohol 
  • Some people like parties, but only occasionally
  • Some people don’t like to socialize with coworkers
  • Some people only have time/energy on weekends or particular days of the week/month
  • Some people like parties, but not when they are sick

All of these things are ok, and liking parties in one form doesn’t mean you have to go to other forms, or that you have to accept all invitations from people you like