Sunday, November 27, 2011

I am only one bourbon drink away from being a very bad guest

I thought about holding this entry for a later date – this being my second post and all, and I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about me.  But, here goes.
I have a lengthy and informal list of rules about what it takes to be a good guest in someone else’s home.  I picked up these rules along the way – from Dear Ann Landers columns, etiquette books, watching movies, advice from my Mom, and most importantly from my own experiences both as a host and a guest.  Certainly good manners are an important aspect of our lives – they are what separate us from the animals, in addition to our opposable thumbs and war.  
The first lesson in being a good guest came when I was a little girl, and I was taught that if a food is passed to you that you do not like, take a little, put it on your plate, and try it anyway.   Don’t exclaim, “I don’t like that !”   In a proper raising, simple manners can became second nature - Put your napkin in your lap.  Ask to be excused from the table.  Thank the hostess before you leave.  That sounds easy enough, right?
Let us move on to “good manners as a guest 201” – the adult class.  I think there are five very easy steps in being a great guest for a dinner party.  Certainly there are more steps involved when you are invited to an overnight stay, and I will put together my rules for this situation at a later date.   So someone invites you to their home for a dinner party, or Thanksgiving, or a bridal shower, or fill in the blank.    Ready, set, GO:
1.        Do not arrive early.  The hostess is running around like a crazy person in the last ten minutes  before the event, and the last thing she wants to see early is you.  Please, unless there is a reason to be right on time (for example you are a guest at a surprise birthday party),  be fashionably late by at least ten minutes.
2.       Offer to help, but if help is refused do not insert yourself into the host’s kitchen and start asking where the clean glasses should go.
3.       Make conversation with your fellow partygoers.  I know that this is uncomfortable for some people, and here is my secret – keep the focus on the other person.  People love to talk about themselves, they really do.   Find the quietest person in the room and compliment something they are wearing – they will perk right up and you two will soon be off and engaged in lively chatter.  The hostess will be grateful as she looks out and sees you doing your part – and she’ll say to herself something like this, “Thank goodness for Scout - she took an interest in poor cousin Charlie”.
4.       Do not be the last person to leave.  This lesson has been hard for me over the years, because I generally have such a great time at a party that I lose track of the TIME.   The hostess WANTS you to leave eventually.  Please don’t put off the inevitable.  In my opinion, the best time to leave a party is when there are about four to six other guests leaving – you can say thanks and whisk right out the door.    Safety in numbers.
5.        For goodness sakes, please do not drink too much.  This one is tricky, especially at a party when there is an abundance of alcohol.  Set your mind before you get to the party that you will not over-serve yourself.  Eat your food while engaging in great conversation with cousin Charlie, have a glass of water or two between drinks, and leave before things get ugly.
5a.  If you do mess up on rule number 5, please be a happy drunk.  Do not start crying about your job, your husband, your dead brother, or your lost dog – your makeup will run terribly and people won’t invite you back to their house in a very long time, if ever.
5b.  Do not start rummaging through the hostess’ liquor cabinet looking for the bourbon.  If you get to this point, you are obviously too drunk to know it, and bourbon is the last thing you need.  Close the liquor cabinet door honey, thank the hostess for a lovely evening,  grab your designated driver, and get the heck outta dodge.  Pronto.
5c.  If you still want that bourbon once arriving safely at your own home, here’s a great drink recipe!!
The Classic Manhattan
2 oz. Jim Beam
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes bitters
2 to 3 maraschino cherries
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the liquid ingredients and shake.  Strain into a cocktail glass and add the cherries.


  1. thats funny. Ive pulled that safety in numbers exit a few times. Great finish with the bourbon recipe - i probably wont have a manhattan anytime soon - but you never know how a recipe might come in handy. I hate to be helped in my kitchen since its more work to manage the helpers than to just do it yourself. I will keep all these things in mind, esp, #3 which is what they teach you in the dale carnegie school. i always recognize when somebody is running the "all about you" play on me. grrrrhahahahaha

  2. When it comes to my kitchen, I am a complete control freak ... like chickory says, it's more work to manage the "helpers." I have been the last one to leave ... afterward I felt like such a heel. The hostess was gracious, tho'.

  3. Manners! So forgotten these days, especially when it comes to being a party guest. Which is the operative word, isn't it: guest. So often, people forget that and treat a party like their own personal fun fair. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I throw a party and indicate I'll be serving several non-alcoholic beverages but otherwise BYOB (because who can possibly stock everything everyone likes to drink?), and half the guests, ooops!, forget. Grrrrrr. That's when I politely request that one of those folks who can't READ make a liquor store run.

  4. [visiting via Chickory]

    If anyone ever invites me to a party, I'll try to keep #1 and #4 in mind.

  5. My favorite book on manners is "Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior" (back before Judith Martin turned herself into entertainment) And I so agree about not arriving early. WHY? WHY? WHY? sit in the car! Your post is well timed because we're going to our neighborhood Holiday Party tonight. And your Manhattan recipe? Mr. Boxer is a bourbon freak and I think he'd only challenge you on the Jim Beam. :-) Welcome to Blog Land!

  6. @ chickory - yeah, you can't make it so obvious! Haha!!
    @ Boxer - please tell Mr. Boxer that I can't help it - Jim Beam reminds me of my childhood - and that's another story all together!!

    Thanks everyone for your comments and welcoming a newcomer. You all looked like you were having so much fun that I decided to jump into the pool! Muuuuuahhhhh!

  7. Ain't this an outstandin' title fer a blog-- Preserving the South? Blessed be! (wish't I'd thought of it)

    On good manners, amen.

    On Preserving the South an' Mahself, Oh! We ate watermelon jes' as ya' describe it, sittin' on the back porch steps, sticky arms, an' lightenin' bugs still to chase afore the evenin' were over. Poor wee chillen today have no idea of real childhood. I be a grown woman afore I knowed thar's such a thang as a lock on a door.

    As fer cookery--why Mildred Evans is sure to have been an influence on what used to be a favorite stop when zoomin' through Georgia. We always made sure to visit the New Perry Inn fer Sunday dinner.

    Welcome, Scout, to bloggerville. Youse a most welcome addition.

  8. Oh my goodness! This is GREAT! Congrats on your second post! You're definitely entertaining by means of "southern charm" here on Preserving the South! "Preserving the South" should boast a club of Southern Women... if you ever decide... I'm in! Thanks for the post! Rule # 1 is my favorite and I am so glad you informed those who do not play by rules! Wink!

  9. Oh gracious--I jes' now figgered out this Scout--Preserving the South--is the same Scout postin' at Seredipity's Haiku Monday. I must have frazzled brains. I like yore off grid Haiku!!

  10. Aunty - you are so delightful that I want to hug your neck! I am indeed the Scout on the Haiku Monday - I smiled at your Scout 2 Haiku! Well played! The New Perry Hotel is still going strong, and my parents grew up in Perry (highschool sweethearts from back in the 50's). I'm so glad you share the same experience eating a watermelon on the porch! @ Tera - you are about as charming a southern woman as I've ever met, so you could be the President of the Club!! Love to all

  11. Apparently I am a horrible guest so I'm sorry to break the run of nice people. (You're right though, everyone I know is great.) I recently went to spend a night at an in-laws house. My wife was horrified with me. I actually started to use the pillows that were on the bed. Apparently they are just for show. Then I heard about the bedspread... and the hand towels ...and the soap. I was afraid to go into the bathroom and was wondering if we would have to sleep on the floor. Then went to a chest and pulled out the everyday things. Silly me, why would I assume you were supposed to use the stuff that was there. What was I thinking? I think I'll post your rules on the door the next time we have company. I really enjoyed your post and haiku.