The Ever Expanding Circle of Friendly Guests

by admin on January 25, 2017

I love to host parties and events and do so pretty frequently. We throw a variety of events – everything from huge blow out parties to bbq’s, brunches and game nights.

I am part of a women’s gaming group that meets monthly. These women are sweet and funny and I enjoy their company. There are quite a few women in the group – about 25 or so – and I’ve been in the group less than a year so I’m still getting to know some of these ladies. I’ve been to about 6 game nights and hosted one as well.

My best friend is in the group (she invited me) and I’ve done some outside things with some of these ladies and my best friend.

Now to the dilemma. I host an annual ladies brunch. I always host it in January and invite women that inspire me. It’s a chance to get together with motivated, ambitious women and encourage and support one another as we talk about our dreams and goals for the new year. It’s a favorite event of mine.

In the past the event was pretty small but I’m now in a larger home and can seat up to 20 women. I do it up fancy with place settings and nice china and mimosas. I host many events that are standing room only but for this event I plan accordingly so that everyone has a seat. Because of this set up I carefully choose my guest list. I invited 25 women and true to my estimation, 20 rsvp’ed yes. It’s perfect!

The other day my best friend informed me of a recent lunch that took place. About a dozen women from our gaming group went out to lunch a few weeks back. I couldn’t make it to this particular lunch but in my absence someone brought up my upcoming brunch. Several of the women didn’t know what the brunch was and so a few of the women happily described the brunch and the events that will take place and got all of the other women excited about coming. It never occurred to the women telling about it or to the women listening that those that didn’t know about it weren’t invited. My best friend sat there not knowing what to say and never corrected anyone (can’t blame her for that, it was an awkward position to be in).

So apparently there are at least 8 additional (uninvited) women coming to my brunch. 4 of whom I didn’t even know their name.

This is the third time something like this has happened in this group. It seems as if there’s a “everyone in the group is invited” kind of mentality.

Besides the obvious lack of manners and awareness, this kind of mentality bothers me. I might not click with all 25 women in this group and don’t want to feel obligated to invite every single person to every single event. I don’t always have the space or budget to do so.

It’s too late to do anything about the brunch. I just prepared extra food and will grin and bear it. However, going forward my best friend suggested the next time I have an event and don’t invite everyone to reach out to the repeat offenders that blab to others and let them know this is not an event for our gaming group, I couldn’t invite everyone and to please refrain from sharing it with others to avoid hurt feelings.

Ironically the blabbers are vivacious and fun and some of my favorite people in the group, other than these offenses. I don’t think they are being malicious at all but just want everyone to come and have a great time.

Advice please? 0121-17

I’ve experienced this as well.  I chalk it up to people wanting to share the fun on the presumption that everyone should be included and that I would be happy to spread the hospitality indefinitely.   This “problem” occurs among circles of friends that are actually quite healthy, relationship-wise, so the group mentality is one of inclusiveness and generosity.   It doesn’t seem to occur to people that the hosts can have other circles of friends they wish to integrate at a hosted function.

Your best friend could have commented in the discussion thus, “I could be mistaken but I believe XXXX’s brunch is not a gamer group function and that she has invited other women outside of our circle to attend.”   Unless the women of this gamer group are utterly obtuse, this gentle hint should give most of them pause to reconsider inviting themselves or others.

As for the OP, to be honest,  I would have continued my brunch preparations as if I had not heard this piece of information from my best friend because you really don’t know just how many are actually going to attend uninvited.  Set the tables, put out place cards, prepare the right amount of food for 20 guests and prepare to greet your guests.   If the uninvited do show up, you greet them graciously just like any other guest and then you set up an impromptu table and chairs in some obscure corner that will not detract from your invited guests’ enjoyment of the event.   Treat them kindly, reassuring them that all is well but let the ad hoc nature of your hospitality speak volumes that you had not planned on them.

{ 180 comments… read them below or add one }

lkb January 25, 2017 at 7:44 am

I wonder if it’s possible to send a group email or social media post, either once or several times a year, to the effect that, “We’re glad that we have such a fun, sociable group of women, but please use caution and courtesy when discussing social events. While we all would love to host everyone in our growing group, sometimes it’s just not possible. To avoid awkwardness and hurt feelings, please avoid mentioning gatherings that are not clearly billed as open to all members. Thank you for understanding.”

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Lomita Momcat January 25, 2017 at 4:33 pm

So let’s imagine you’re one of the people in this group of friends who doesn’t receive an invitation to the event. And let’s further imagine that there are people in this group of friends who have been invited. You find out by chance about the event, you find out that some friends have been invited, and you also find out that the friends attending the event have been admonished not to tell you about it. (Maybe you find out about it afterwards, at some event to which you are invited, when the people who were invited are talking about how much fun they had.)

How would that make you feel, if you considered yourself as much of a friend to the person hosting the event, as the people who were invited and attended?

The answer isn’t to swear people to silence. That never works. If people manage to keep it secret that they’ve been invited to an event, what happens afterwards? They can’t talk about the event in past tense as attendees, because then the cat’s out of the bag and the bad feelings start. And inevitably people are going to start wondering what events are being held that they’re not being told about, and why.

The solution isn’t swearing people to secrecy and withholding information. The solution is actually the opposite.

At one of her gaming night get-together, OP announces that she’s going to be hosting her annual “Lady’s Brunch,” and explains that this is more of a networking and giving acknowledgement to people who have inspired her, than a purely social event. She also explains that it is invitation-only, and that it breaks her heart not to be able to invite all her gaming night friends, but the brunch involves a different purpose and somewhat different group than the gaming group, so she can’t invite everyone, and she apologizes for any disappointment this engenders.

If OP is open and honest about this, and makes it plain that she’s not hiding anything from anyone, and treats her friends like MATURE ADULTS who understand this isn’t a middle-school party situation but an adult networking situation, there should be no hurt feelings.

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Dee January 26, 2017 at 1:22 am

As a mature adult, I don’t have a problem with my friends meeting without me. As mature adults, my friends don’t have a problem with me meeting with only one (or some) of them at times. Nobody is uncomfortable if the events are mentioned when non-invited people are around, because we are all mature adults. But nobody really talks about the party that not all were invited to because, as mature adults, we talk about common interests when we’re together and are respectful of how boring it is to brag about a party that didn’t include everyone. And thus there are no issues, because we’re all mature adults.

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Shoegal January 27, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Yeah – in theory we are all mature adults. In reality – not so much. I’m perfectly fine if my group of friends get together without me – it happens – often. Then when we get together the other members speak of another event that I wasn’t included where the most hysterical thing happened – they all talk & laugh – and beat a dead horse about something I can’t comment on because I wasn’t there. Is this rudeness on their part? or are we all just mature adults who assume that I as a mature adult can handle it?

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Dee January 28, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Mature adults do not go on and on about a subject that causes discomfort to one of their friends. So, yes Shoegal, your friends are rude to reminisce so deeply about something you were not invited to participate in. You could point out your discomfort and see if it makes any difference; mention that it sounds like everybody had such a good time but, unfortunately, you can’t relate because you weren’t there, or limit your time with these people if this is a common occurrence. There seems to be a weird concept that one should hang onto friends who aren’t all that great, just because they aren’t all that bad. There are really great people out there, and having them for friends means you’ll never miss the mediocre ones again.

NostalgicGal January 31, 2017 at 10:03 am

I am a gamer and this happens often. I will often ask about all the lurid details and smile otherwise, so I have an understanding on what they are referring to and why they are still laughing about X. In this my friends will politely explain all about X so I have it in context. They might even share pictures. In this all is good. I understand I can’t be in the middle of every good bit that went down. I have been part and parcel to a few good ones, in return others get to do and be a part of something I wasn’t. I don’t resent it, it’s what happens! I’m sure, Shoegal, that you are a mature adult that can take it in stride.

Anon January 26, 2017 at 10:01 am

I didn’t know mature adults couldn’t handle their friends meeting with other friends without them.

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Goldie January 26, 2017 at 11:13 am

This happens to me all the time. I don’t have a problem with it. I have limits for how many people I can entertain at once, and I assume so do my friends. I have a lot of things to do outside of what they’re hosting and am completely okay with not being included in everything. Also, I didn’t see it in OP’s letter that she swore her invited guests to secrecy. The other members of the gaming group just should not have interpreted being told about OP’s annual brunch as an opportunity to excitedly invite themselves. I think it’s ironic that OP had apparently not been invited to the group lunch where the self-invites occurred.

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TaterTot January 26, 2017 at 2:20 pm

The OP was invited to the lunch where the self-invites occurred. She just couldn’t make it.

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lkb January 26, 2017 at 11:36 am

Point taken but my original post wasn’t about swearing people to secrecy. It was a reminder of common courtesy that one does not mention an event to which some of those present are not invited.

I don’t see the point of someone “announcing” that she’s having a get together “oh, and some of you aren’t invited.” Simply do the right thing and issue invitations privately. And, if you’re one of those invited, don’t mention it unless you’re absolutely certain that everyone within earshot is also invited.

Unfortunately, even adults need to be reminded of the rules now and again.

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Tracy W January 26, 2017 at 6:13 pm

Announcing to people that they’re not invited because an event is for people who inspire you and for networking implies that the people not invited are uninspiring and/or useless for networking. That risks hurting people’s feelings.

Meanwhile saying nothing (or, if put on the spot, “I’m sorry, I’d love to see you but I just don’t have the space” puts the ‘blame’ on the host. Not that there’s any blame involved in not having the resources to entertain everyone all at once of course.)

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KellyK January 27, 2017 at 8:24 am

I don’t think either swearing people to secrecy or making a big announcement is the way to go, because both make too big a deal out of it and call attention to the exclusion. No, I don’t expect to be invited to everything any of my friends are doing, but having the event I’m not invited to rubbed in my face isn’t going to feel good. Both a generic announcement about “don’t discuss events that aren’t open to everybody” and a specific announcement that the brunch is invite-only end up emphasizing that some people aren’t invited.

If you know who brought your brunch up at the lunch, you can mention it to them. While a big announcement is overkill, it’s totally reasonable to ask your friends not to invite other people to your parties, or to talk about your parties in a way that makes it sound like they’re a group event. No need to make a big deal out of it, though.

At this point, the best you can do is pass the suggested script of what to say next time to your best friend.

If people do show up uninvited, I like the idea of hosting them politely but subtly making it clear that you hadn’t planned on them. If they are people you want to hang out with socially, you can make it a point to do something else with them at a later point. If they’re not, or you don’t really know them well enough to know either way, then it doesn’t matter too much if they feel snubbed at an event they invited themselves to.

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Liz January 25, 2017 at 8:13 am

Wow, that is an awkward situation. I think you’re fine in what you’re doing. planning for extra,

I agree with the admin on this:
“I chalk it up to people wanting to share the fun on the presumption that everyone should be included and that I would be happy to spread the hospitality indefinitely. This “problem” occurs among circles of friends that are actually quite healthy, relationship-wise, so the group mentality is one of inclusiveness and generosity. It doesn’t seem to occur to people that the hosts can have other circles of friends they wish to integrate at a hosted function.”

I have a couple of friends who think nothing of blurting out when there’s something going on that maybe i wasn’t invited to. It’s not intentional or meant to be mean, they just don’t think.

I’m the opposite; I really try hard NOT to say anything, esp if I’m even the least bit unsure if someone else has been invited to an event or to do something that I’ve been invited to. It puts everyone in an awkward position.

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Shoegal January 25, 2017 at 8:17 am

My sister hosts an annual Valentine’s Day party for couples. It is meticulously planned for to the last detail. There are games, prizes, activities, food, specialty cocktails, favors etc. all to a particular theme. This type of party does not lend well to additional, uninvited guests. Not only is there limited space but the party is also, to some extent, personalized to the individual guest – so you can’t just “drop” in – it will be very obvious you weren’t included initially. She also has a party on Friday night and then another on Saturday evening so that she can do this for two different groups of friends. The party is a really good time and everyone looks forward to it every year so through word of mouth and stories that have been told many of her friends know of the party but due to space/ money issues not everyone is invited. This does not prevent them from asking to be invited. She has struggled with this year after year. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but it isn’t possible to accommodate everyone unless another couple opts not to attend and some of the people aren’t a good fit for this type of party. My brother and his wife aren’t game players and were very uncomfortable – so after one year – she no longer includes them. She has had to just say no – there is no more room – for one thing – and it changes the party considerably if there are too many people playing these games. Unfortunately, it isn’t an easy situation – and it is always hard to turn people away.

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BellyJean January 26, 2017 at 11:32 am

+1. That’s awesome and impressive your sister has been able to create such a personalized atmosphere where folks feel comfortable and have fun, and that she has the polite spine and handle things maturely.

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Julie January 25, 2017 at 8:20 am

It’s always good to be careful about attending events that you are not formally invited. In this case, the invited guests who blabbed are obviously at fault, but so are the uninvited guests who think they can just invite themselves. If I was one of the uninvited who was interested in attending, I’d figure out a way to get in touch with the hostess and contact her directly. At which point, the OP can kindly explain to me that there’s been a misunderstanding and this event is not a “free for all”.

I think the “free for all” mentality is more common among people I know. I attended one such party last weekend and they rain out of food super early and there weren’t enough places to sit. I think I might prefer an event like OP’s brunch where the menu and seating were planned out well in advance…

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Mizz Etiquette January 25, 2017 at 8:22 am

Couple of questions:
– Have the “uninvited” guests RSVP’d or told you they were coming?
– May I ask why, if you only have space for 20, you invited 25? What if all 25 had said yes?

I agree with admin – just continue on like you know nothing. If these women do show up, they will get the idea real quick (by viewing the place cards) that it was invite only.

And as for the women that blabbed about it, hopefully they get the clue when they see the UNinvited show up and not have a place to sit. Maybe then they’ll realize that this particular brunch wasn’t for everyone.

And yes, I would say something to the blabber’s for the future.

Good luck.

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Kate January 25, 2017 at 11:52 am

It is standard practice, and recommended in all the etiquette books I have read to invite 20% more people than you actually want to come, because it really never happens that every single person you invite attends.

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THE OP January 25, 2017 at 2:04 pm

The uninvited never saw an invitation, so they couldn’t RSVP and they never contacted me about coming. They just showed up at my home.

I invited 25, knowing that 15-20 would RSVP yes. I’m an event planner by hobby and by trade and all 25 would never RSVP yes.

I did exactly as the admin advised. I set out 20 place settings and those that showed up uninvited received a hastily set up corner to eat in. I’m still not sure they understood they were never invited.

What’s worse is the gaming group completely monopolized the event and didn’t socialize with anyone else. While we were doing one of our after brunch activities a friend of mine, who is not in the gaming group, went to sit down and work at a table that the gaming group had gathered at and was told all seats were taken and sent away.

I will think twice before inviting anyone other than my best friend to events going forward.

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o_gal January 25, 2017 at 3:19 pm

One issue that you need to address immediately, while the event is still fresh in everyone’s minds, is that this was not a gaming group event. I am quite sure that in their minds, you hosted a gaming group brunch, and it was weird that these non-gaming group people were invited as well. You need to nip that in the bud ASAP. I don’t know of any good suggestions – possibly a combination of Stephenie’s suggestion and advice from the admin. I’d also pay attention next year to see if anyone has any discussion in the December-ish timeframe about “this year’s brunch.”

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Goldie January 26, 2017 at 11:15 am

Oh my. I think you’re right! That is probably exactly what happened! Great advice.

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doodlemor January 25, 2017 at 4:10 pm

I’m sorry that your lovely event was taken over by others, OP.

Now that these people know about your brunch, and that it is an annual event, you need to have plans in place for next year. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these people start asking you when the party is going to be, or start telling other friends to come.

There was an interesting thread or threads on ehell a number of years back about a woman who lived abroad and gave an annual Christmas party. The thing snowballed into a massive event over which she had little control. She finally had to stop entirely for a year or two, and then start up again with a very small, intimate party.

I remember two of her startled complaints. A whole choir showed up and performed for awhile, despite her protests, and she found several women [thieves] at the buffet table filling large plastic bags with Christmas cookies to take home. Those are just the things that I remember.

Polish up your spine, OP, and have a plan in place to maintain control of your own party. You are wise to only want to invite your best friend, who will presumably be discrete.

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crella January 27, 2017 at 9:28 am

That was me. People invited others without telling me, and it ended up being a free-for-all. I had a dozen or more uninvited people show up.

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rindlrad January 25, 2017 at 4:51 pm

First – congratulations on your graceful handling of a difficult situation.

Second – in spite of your best efforts it sounds like the gamers still managed to take over your non-gaming group event. I wouldn’t necessarily write off the women from your gaming group that you want to get to know outside of gaming. I’d just suggest that you make the additional effort to ensure you let gaming group invitees know that you are inviting them to a non-gaming group event. That should be sufficient to indicate that not everyone from the group is invited and, hopefully, keep any unauthorized inviting occurring.

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ketchup January 25, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Actually, we had a 100% rsvp for our wedding and on the day itself one absentee. It can happen.

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HelenB January 26, 2017 at 10:43 am

That’s the great part about RSVPs. If everyone invited actually tells you they’re coming, you have time to make plans to fit everyone.

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ketchup January 26, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Yup. I’m still in sheer awe over it, and it’s been 12 years. After that all other times rsvps were a nightmare.

Celestia January 26, 2017 at 7:58 am

“I’m still not sure they understood they were never invited.”

This is the #1 reason I’m not quite on board with admin’s advice…people who are already so out of the etiquette loop that they invite themselves along to the event are more likely than most to just not NOTICE the social shaming and subtle clues that they weren’t exactly welcome. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them think you’re just a bad host who wasn’t prepared!

Better, I think, to avoid the risk and find a way to clear the mix-up. It’s so tough when it’s not someone you’re close enough to that you can say “sorry, this event is really specific, but let’s have lunch before it and catch up.”

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Anon January 26, 2017 at 10:03 am

Next time, I wouldn’t let the uninvited people in while saying “I’m sorry, but this was an invitation only event.”

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Goldie January 26, 2017 at 10:30 am

They showed up uninvited and then excluded other invited guests from activities? Isn’t that nice.

Sorry that this happened, OP. You do know that next year, the gaming group will be asking you about the brunch, right? I’d prepare an answer if you don’t plan on inviting them (other than your best friend).

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Rattus January 25, 2017 at 8:26 am

I’m not sure how I would deal with this conundrum, but I certainly would not put the inadvertent intruders in a dark corner thereby ensuring they know that they were not invited. They were mistaken, not rude, and treating them like pariahs seems unnecessarily punitive. If OP doesn’t want to make an issue of it this year, she should dispense with the place cards and deal with things as she anticipates it is likely to turn out, then during the year discuss with the gaming group the personal-invite-only nature of this particular event.

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admin January 25, 2017 at 3:11 pm

They are not mistaken. They heard about a glorious brunch others had been invited to attend and made the decision to get up in the morning, shower, dress themselves and drive to a house for an event they had never received an invitation to attend from the hostess and thought a rsvp was unnecessary. The thoughtlessness for the hostess is mind boggling.

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JD January 26, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Yep, admin is right, it’s called “crashing a party” and it’s always rude.

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Charliesmum January 26, 2017 at 7:13 am

The impression I get is the uninvited guests never even called the OP to find out if they were invited/could be invited. They just heard about a party and decided to show up. That to me is mind-boggling.

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Margo January 25, 2017 at 8:27 am

I think admin’s suggestion about setting up a obscure table is really passive agressive and would make thins uncomfotable and embarassing for everyone, including the invited guests.

Surely it would be far better to ask the friend who was present at the meetingwhether she knows which ladies were planning to come? Explain to the friend that while you love spending time with the group, this particualr event is one where you have limited space and is invitation only, so you can’t accommodate extra people, at least not this year . If she is able to tell you who was thinking of coming, reach out to them directly and say somthing on the lines of :
“I’m contacting you beacuse I gather that there has been a bit of a misunderstanding – I’m hosting an event on [date], the nature of it means I have very limited nubersso I have kept it invitation only. I think that from comments made at the lunch on [date], when I wasn’t there, you may have got the impression that it was an open house event and be planning to come. I wanted to let you know that this particualr gathering isn’t open house and isn’t about gamer group., and while I enjoy spening time with you I’m not able to add to my guest list this time”.
Another option would be to speak to the friends who are invited and have a simialr conversatipn, but explain that as unfortunately you don’t know who they suggestedshould come, you don’t have a way to contact thsoe people and explain the situation,so could they please tell you who they invited so you can address it.
If you have anothermeting of the gamer group before the party you could deal with it then.

If you can’t face tryin to speak to them and you can squeeze in some extra people then I would do so graciously, rather than wait until thy arrive and then try to make them feel bad.

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admin January 25, 2017 at 3:16 pm

So you believe readjusting the table settings and adding more chairs to already full tables would not be uncomfortable for the real guests? If the host has 20 confirmed rsvps for a brunch and sets up for 20 guests and host does not receive any further rsvps that would inform her to revise her plans to include more (a third hand report from her best friend is not sufficient evidence of a rsvp), how precisely did you think an additional 8 people could possibly be added on the spur of the moment without it being uncomfortable for someone? I vote to make the brunch crashers more uncomfortable than my intended guests.

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Kate January 25, 2017 at 4:04 pm

I agree. The uninvited guests are being extremely rude. The hostess would be rude to make her invited guests uncomfortable for the sake of uninvited guests.

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LadyV January 26, 2017 at 9:08 am

I agree as well. The OP was perfectly justified in behaving as though she wasn’t aware of the possibility of uninvited guests showing up. If I was an invited guest, I would be much more uncomfortable having extra people jammed in at a table that was set for a specific number of attendees than I would seeing other guests sitting at an extra table.

What bothers me is that this is just one more example of what appears to be a growing trend in this country – that it is perfectly fine for uninvited guests to attend a social gathering. How many times do we read stories of a wedding where the bride received RSVPs that included someone’s uninvited family members, or had invitees pouting because they weren’t allowed a “plus one”? I would no more think of attending an event to which I was not invited than I would of showing up to a formal event in jeans and a t-shirt.

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NostalgicGal January 31, 2017 at 10:15 am

And some are so blatant. One on ehell (and no I can’t find it right now it was in comments) about a couple that had a ‘no childen wedding’ and had addressed the invite to Him and Her only and they wrote in children and +1’s to equal SEVEN extras and were MASSIVELY put out when the HC polished the shiny spine and said ‘sorry we will miss you then’ to them in reply. Apparently they didn’t show after that reply.

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BellyJean January 26, 2017 at 11:35 am

Agreed.

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lakey January 26, 2017 at 6:17 pm

“I think admin’s suggestion about setting up a obscure table is really passive agressive and would make things uncomfortable and embarassing for everyone, including the invited guests.”
I would call this accepting the consequences of your actions. If you attend a party to which you have not been clearly invited, there are consequences, such as the hostess having to make last minute accommodations for you. Embarrassment and awkwardness aren’t caused by the hostess, they’re caused by the uninvited guests. Actions have consequences, and we learn from our mistakes when we experience the consequences.

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Stephenie January 25, 2017 at 9:10 am

I would have contacted the women who blabbed about it and let them know that you’d heard that they’d invited extra people to your private *sit-down dinner* event and that it wasn’t an open invitation so you’d appreciate it if they’d let the people know that they had made a mistake extending an unapproved invitation.

The onus and embarrassment should be on the ones who invited extras without checking with you.

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Lerah99 January 25, 2017 at 9:22 am

^^^^ This!

I wish I had a like button for @Stephenie’s answer.

It’s still going to be awkward. But at least you can help share the awkwardness with the people who put you in this situation.

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Victoria January 25, 2017 at 9:41 am

I agree with this.

Keeping quiet and letting them show up, then tucking them into a corner away from the conversation and activities seems very passive aggressive to me. That’s punishing the people who didn’t realize it wasn’t an open house type party, not the ones who accidentally invited them.

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admin January 25, 2017 at 3:06 pm

In a house already filled to capacity with the tables and chairs required to host the intended guests, the obscure corner may be the best any unintended guest could hope for.

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Dee January 25, 2017 at 10:39 am

Stephenie – This is the best advice I’ve read so far. It makes so much sense; the problem is with the blabbers, not with OP, so she shouldn’t even consider handling it. The blabbers certainly knew that others weren’t invited the minute the latter expressed ignorance of the event and wanted more details about it. They are very much to blame and should be ashamed of themselves for inviting people to someone else’s party. And the “newly invited” should know better than to crash a party they haven’t been invited to.

I would not want to attend a party I’ve been invited to that then gets crashed and where the host is flustered and tries to accommodate people in a back room. If there is food planned for the original 20 then they will either get stiffed when the newcomers are fed or the newcomers will be sitting at a table without food, watching others eat. Way too awkward a situation to be pleasant. In that scenario, the host runs the risk of turning off all her guests from accepting another invitation again. Also, the host has no control for how the newcomers will behave when put in that situation. The original guests may take over and bring the newcomers to their table, out of ignorance or guilt, and the party will be nothing like what OP planned. And it will still be awkward and she will be known, first and foremost, as a poor host.

If OP takes Stephenie’s advice I suspect the problem will be solved and will not reoccur in the future, at least not with the same people. If OP is treated poorly by either/both the blabbers and the “newly invited” after that then these people don’t respect her and are not her friends. And if the “newly invited” show up at the party anyway then OP can quietly speak to them at the door and express confusion as to why the blabbers didn’t let them know of the “mistake”, then apologize on behalf of the blabbers and explain that she has to return to her party. The onus has to be put back on the blabbers and/or the newcomers, where it belongs.

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Lomita Momcat January 25, 2017 at 5:09 pm

I disagree with the statement that “the problem is with the blabbers, not the OP.”

It seems fair to assume that OP has failed to make clear to the gaming group friends that OP hosts some entertainments that are invitation only and include some but not all of the gaming group friends.

It also seems pretty clear to me that some of the people OP calls “friends” are actually people who are more like “acquaintances with whom I am on friendly terms,” than actual friends, but that she hasn’t made that distinction clear to them.

The behavior of the blabbers and the party-crashers indicates to me that they believe they’re on different, closer, more familiar, friendly terms with OP than OP actually holds them. (Most adult people who know they’re not actually close personal friends with someone wouldn’t show up uninvited to an event hosted by that person because they’d feel uncomfortable doing that. It’s people who feel very comfortable and safe and on familiar terms with their host who show up uninvited.)

I get the feeling that OP is a very warm and bubbly personality, who enjoys people and enjoys entertaining, and who wants to make everyone feel like they’re good friends with her. That isn’t a bad thing; but it makes for problems. It’s obvious that not everyone OP socializes with is on equal footing, friend-wise, and that isn’t a bad thing, either, but it can cause problems when people assume that they’re on a friendlier, more familiar basis than they really are.

There sometimes has to be a line drawn, and I believe it is up to the OP, in this case, to draw that line and make it clear that she hosts lots of social events with different people, and that “friendship” doesn’t guarantee every “friend” a seat at every table she sets. That may mean OP has to show a bit more reserve in interacting with people so they don’t assume a familiarity that isn’t warranted, and it may also mean being very clear and honest with everyone up front about the terms of any entertainments she’s hosting so people don’t make assumptions that cause problems.

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Dee January 26, 2017 at 1:25 am

No, it’s not people who feel very comfortable and safe with their host who show up uninvited. It’s people who are rude who show up uninvited. It’s also a quick way to ensure they are no longer going to be considered close friends.

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LadyV January 26, 2017 at 9:12 am

Why should the OP have to make ANYTHING clear to the gaming group about her social events? The bottom line is that if you’re not invited, you don’t attend – PERIOD. And if a third party says, “Oh, Host/Hostess won’t mind!”, then the appropriate response is to check with the host/hostess to see if you’re welcome.

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Goldie January 26, 2017 at 10:33 am

This is the college-party mentality that I, too, have seen when I hosted. Most people understand how an invite works, but a few times my guests just showed up with extra guests, whom I didn’t know or barely knew. Never happened at sit-down dinners, though, that’s way over the line!

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lakey January 26, 2017 at 6:33 pm

I belonged to a few different groups when I was younger. There were many overlaps in “memberships” of the groups. Also there were closer friendships within some of the groups. If Ann was in the same ski group that I belonged to, it would not occur to me that I was invited to all events that she hosted. And if she had a brunch, she would not need to inform everyone in the ski group that it was not a ski group party. Also, Ann might decide to have a party with 4 of the friends in the ski group that she is closest to. She would invite those four people, she would not need to contact other people. If they aren’t invited, then they aren’t invited.

The OP invited certain people. She didn’t have an obligation to “make it clear” to other members of the gaming group, because she never invited them. It’s the hostess who tells you you are invited, what time the event is, and where it’s held, not other guests.

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Terpsichore January 25, 2017 at 10:42 am

I agree with this. I wouldn’t want these unsuspecting guests to feel awkward because someone else made a blunder.

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admin January 25, 2017 at 3:02 pm

They are not guests. They never were. People who have the audacity to come to a party having never received an invitation directly from the host cannot expect to be treated as the preferred guests their host intended to have.

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abby January 25, 2017 at 3:29 pm

I think Terpischore means the invited guests who did not extend invitations to uninvited guests will still suffer the awkwardness of the intrusion, not mention the cramped space. Plus, actual invited guests may feel obligated to take less food to allow for the unvited guests to eat which could undermine their enjoyment.

I agree with those that say that rather than ignore the heads up from the Best Friend that uninvited people are coming, and prepare for only the invited guests, it might be best to just head this off by telling those that blabbed that they need to recall the invitations they chose to make on behalf of the hostess, before the party happens.

If OP is not direct, I think the invited guests who offered up OP’s brunch to non invited guests, as well as the uninvited guests, are obtuse enough to decide that OP is just a poor hostess, rather than examining their own rude and presumptuous behavior. OP could shrug that off as no big loss, but she mentioned in her OP that she likes these people and wants to continue to socialize with them.

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Devin January 25, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I agree they aren’t guests, but if word of mouth invites are the norm for this group, it really is the blabber who should be put in the uncomfortable spot. If i was an invited guest, i would feel odd knowing there is a separate ‘lesser’ table near by, expecially if I didnt know the reason. If i did know the reason because i had friends at both tables, i would still feel uncomfortable at the event. I think nip it in the bud before the party crashers arrive. The party guests will be non the wiser and you’ve set a precedent with the gamer group you will be the source of invitations for your events, not word of mouth.

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admin January 26, 2017 at 12:41 am

Miss Manner says the proper response of invited guests is to sympathize with the hostess’ dilemma and trust that she handled it as best she could. The fact that you a an invited guest would feel uncomfortable merely underscores the thoughtlessness of people who crash events they never received an invitation to.

crebj January 25, 2017 at 9:04 pm

I disagree. However the blunder was made, they’re guests. Treating them coldly will make them far less likely to accept a real invitation at another date.

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admin January 26, 2017 at 12:16 am

And you think the OP/hostess is now just as likely or more likely to invite these people to future brunches?

Lomita Momcat January 26, 2017 at 1:52 am

Crebj, I agree with you; once OP made the decision to invite uninvited people in to her brunch and offer them hospitality, they became her guests. Unwelcome, perhaps, and certainly not invited or expected, but they became GUESTS when she invited them in and offered them hospitality.

A guest is someone who you invite into your house and offer hospitality to. When OP asked the eight uninvited attendees to enter her home and enjoy her hospitality, that was an invitation. They’re now guests. Period.

Anon January 26, 2017 at 10:10 am

It doesn’t sound like she wanted to invite them at a later date anyway.

livvy17 January 27, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Why would she WANT them to come at a later date? They barged in uninvited, didn’t call ahead, and then proceeded to be rude to the INVITED guests! I think she’d be pretty lucky if they never came by again.

Lady Catford January 25, 2017 at 9:39 pm

I am astounded at the number of posts that seem to imply that uninvited quests should be accommodated because their feelings would be hurt. Party crashers are party crashers. Period end of sentence.

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Pam January 25, 2017 at 10:39 pm

I agree that they were not invited guests by the OP, but they felt invited by the group. And at the same time the OP did know ahead of time she would have extra people or at least that was the assumption she was making in her post. If someone showed up completely unexpected, you’d have to make a place somewhere at the last minute but a good host would do everything in their power to ease the awkwardness for the sake of the invited guests. Everyone in the room would sense tension and be uncomfortable and that wouldn’t be worth it for me. I think the point is that she knew in the case of this party, she would have to make room OR talk to people before hand and fix the misunderstanding. Since she chose not to talk to them, she did what she had to do and accommodated them. It sounds like it didn’t go too well – but now she has the opportunity to be proactive and work to prevent this from happening again. It was definitely a tricky situation!

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admin January 26, 2017 at 12:52 am

So, the hostess was to presume she heard a factual report from her best friend, she was to assume people would actually be rude and attend a party they were not invited to, she was to assume to know which of the women would act upon that information and then the hostess was to call, preemptively, to make sure they weretold they were in error? Do you not see why this approach is fraught with a lot of presumptions, assumptions and a landmine of potential faux pas?

Readers seem to have not noticed that the OP planned the event for 20 guests, a number she could comfortably fit in her house. 8 more women showed up, a whooping 40% increase, and there is no way whatsoever that 40% more people will be accommodated in a way that is not awkward. For example, let’s say she rented 3 round tables, chairs and linens to seat 20 guests who had rsvped. But 8 more people show up unannounced. There is not another round table, the chairs she has available are folding ones and not similar to everyone else’s, and the linens she uses don’t match everyone else’s either. There is no way this situation would not be awkward and that’s why it is thoughtless and rude to show up to a party having not been invited by the host.

crebj January 26, 2017 at 7:07 am

Good thinking.

Shoegal January 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm

The fault lies with the best friend – I do blame her somewhat. There was time to throw in a comment while the initial conversation was going on – very casually – “this isn’t a gaming function and invitations were sent out – She only has space to accommodate 2o people.” Nobody’s feelings would be hurt by this – just the statement – “invitations were sent out” should have been enough to deter most people. The message would have been sent – you can’t just show up there!!!

Kate January 25, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Everyone knows, at least in the US, that you don’t show up to an event without being invited by the host/ess. If they feel awkward, it is because of their own rudeness.

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Kate January 25, 2017 at 5:29 pm

Meant to say that “at least in the US, I am not sure how other countries socialize”.

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Lomita Momcat January 26, 2017 at 2:02 am

Since “everyone” knows this, then why would 8 people out of a group of 25 throw convention, etiquette and common sense to the winds and show up at an event to which none of them had, apparently, received any direct invitation from their host? I agree with you that it’s pretty basic Etiquette 101.

So how/why did so many people get it so wrong? They’re all clueless? Completely insensitive? Raised by wolves? 8 out of a group of 25 are all so completely gauche that they march up to the front door of an event in progress, without a shred of confirmation from the hostess that they’d be welcome?

I think there’s some information about this situation that’s been left out of the submission.

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LadyV January 26, 2017 at 9:16 am

Lomita Momcat, I disagree about the missing information. I suspect that every single one of those eight people thought, “oh, one more person won’t make a difference”. Believe me, I speak from experience!

Lerah99 January 26, 2017 at 10:00 am

The same way “everyone” knows they should RSVP, but recently my friends sent out 150 invitations to their wedding reception and only received THREE responses.

And when my friend started calling people to find out if there were coming. Some of his friends actually said things like “Oh, yeah. It’s a couple months away so we don’t know if we’re coming yet or not. If nothing comes up between now and then, we’ll be there.”

There are standards of etiquette that everyone SHOULD know, but that doesn’t seem to stop swarms of people from outright ignoring them.

Simply because many people have started acting like they were raised by wolves doesn’t make crashing someone’s party ok.

Anon January 26, 2017 at 10:11 am

“then why would 8 people out of a group of 25 throw convention, etiquette and common sense to the winds and show up at an event to which none of them had, apparently, received any direct invitation from their host?”

Because people are selfish and rude all of the time? And a bunch of people can go and make a decision to crash another party without getting any info from the host. It happens all of the time.

Owly January 26, 2017 at 12:17 pm

My guess is it had something to do with Geek Social Fallacy #5:

http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html

…I have noticed this sort of thing tends to happen with my gamer/geek friends a lot more often than it does in other circles.

crebj January 26, 2017 at 7:15 am

Not sure about the geography. In the U. S., we’ve had surprise guests, some of whom honestly thought they’d be welcome, and others not so much.

Admin, I can’t reply to your comment. Here you go: the OP said she doesn’t know some of these women, and that leaves the door open. She might want to invite them at a a later date, after getting to really know their sterling qualities. If she treats them coldly now, as a “punishment” for mistaking the invitation, they may give her the cold shoulder. Up to her, and of course up to you how you handle replies to your pronunciamentos.

I suggest being kind, this time around.

My. 02. À bientôt.

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Anon January 26, 2017 at 3:52 pm

After a stunt like this? I certainly wouldn’t want to invite them ever again. You don’t accept 2nd-hand or third-party invites randomly. At least ASK whoever is hosting!

o_gal January 25, 2017 at 10:51 am

I had a very similar experience where I successfully employed this strategy. DS was turning 1 and everything I’d read said to have a small party. The party isn’t really for him, it’s for the parents, but a large crowd can sometimes not work out well. So I invited about a dozen people – my parents, my brother, DH’s parents, our friends who have a DS turning 1 just 7 weeks after ours, and DH’s sister and her family.

A few days before the party, we get a call from one of DH’s brothers, asking for directions to our house for the party. Then we start hearing from other people in his family sending their regrets that they can’t make it. What happened is that my MIL sent the invite information to everyone else, and that was 3 brothers and their families, and 2 other sisters and their families. According to her, a first birthday is for the entire family, all of whom we would now have to fully host (find sleeping space for and feed) because they all live many hours away. Funny, I didn’t see DH included in at least 3 first birthdays that happened after I started dating and then married him.

So we called and I asked her who all was coming to the party? Oh brother 1 is coming, but brother 2 can’t make it (brother 3 lives on the opposite coast, so she didn’t tell him about it.) Sister 1 is coming, but sister 2 can’t make it (sister 3 was the one we invited.) I then said in a sheepish voice that we actually didn’t invite the rest of the family. That’s when I got the “for the entire family” although she did apologize for inviting everyone else. At that point, since it was only 1 other single brother and 1 single sister, we said we’d be happy to have them and not worry about it. But I think we got our point across politely.

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Lanes January 26, 2017 at 4:52 pm

I had something similar for DS’s first birthday. Invited grandparents – but grandma invited her sister. Never heard from Grand-aunt, she just showed up with Grandma. Thankfully it was just ONE extra guest that time, and I was able to accommodate.

What is it with kids birthday parties that everyone in the family thinks they’re entitled to come?

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Anon January 27, 2017 at 10:17 am

I think a lot of them treat it like a family reunion (at least if it’s family crashing) and as a babysitting opportunity if it’s your kid going to someone else’s house.

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Marie January 25, 2017 at 12:04 pm

I agree with Stephenie here. Pretending like you know nothing will make an awkward situation for everyone – especially your guests that were invited and they did not ask for that.
Since your best friend knows you know, they’ll inevitably find out that you were aware of the situation and purpously decided to ignore it, leading to a very awkward lunch.

The people that invited others should indeed be the ones to solve the matter, as they are the ones extending invitations on your behalf.

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THE OP January 25, 2017 at 3:55 pm

But they never RSVP’ed. For all I know they were excited at lunch about the concept but then realized they had a conflict. I could have had anywhere from 0-8 of these ladies show up. How can I plan for that? Turns out all 8 appeared.

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eddie January 25, 2017 at 2:14 pm

“The onus and embarrassment should be on the ones who invited extras without checking with you.”

I totally agree with this, and I disagree strongly with Admin’s advice to make the uninvited guests feel ostracized. If I were to attend an event that I had been made to believe was by informal invitation, and I showed up to a surprised hostess and were sat at a make-shift table, I would be MORTIFIED. There is no reason to make her acquaintances feel like that, especially because she believes/knows that their intentions are not bad. What joy would there be in making her friends/acquaintances feel embarassed or uncomfortable? Why make someone feel bad for something that was not done maliciously, and which is too late to fix?

OP’s reaction to “grin and bear it” and handle it differently next year is absolute perfection and shows her to be a gracious hostess and a caring friend. And best friend is right, next year be sure to mention that this is a more exclusive event.

As a side note, I wonder if the “inviters” have been to your party in past years? I am guessing they have not, and they are not as aware of the formal nature as they will be next year.

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admin January 26, 2017 at 12:38 am

You are confused as to what is defined as an “informal invitation”. If the hostess emails you, puts you on a Facebook event distribution, calls you or texts you to come over for an informal gathering, that is what is “informal”. No one, absolutely no one, should ever assume that a second hand invitation offered from a guest and not the host is a valid form of invitation.

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stacey January 26, 2017 at 5:09 pm

This! If the host cannot be bothered to communicate with you directly, you may be doubtful of the likelihood of a warm welcome. Exceptions exist, as they always do. But you will never go truly wrong in attending events to which you have been directly and properly invited. One is far likelier to confound the sensibilities of a good friend or family member by “popping in”, “bringing company along”, or failing to reply to an invitation.

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livvy17 January 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm

YES! The only “infomal invite” you should get from anyone except the host would be one handed out on copy paper on the streets of Las Vegas.

Otherwise, unless the host invites you, YOU ARE NOT INVITED.

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Pat January 25, 2017 at 4:04 pm

This is the best solution. I think I would tell the blabbers (who probably meant well) that space is very limited and that you can’t accommodate extra guests so would they please correct the misunderstanding. It sounds like OP sent written invitations requesting RSVPs – the blabbers were pretty clueless here.

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Garden Gal January 25, 2017 at 4:15 pm

THIS! You heard about the uninvited guests before the day of the event, so you did have time to try to nip this in the bud, which is what I would have done. What an awkward situation.

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AppleEye January 25, 2017 at 5:52 pm

This

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Marozia January 25, 2017 at 11:39 pm

Dead right, Stephenie!!

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Jazzgirl205 January 25, 2017 at 9:24 am

I am worried about this myself. I have moved to an area in which home entertaining is rare. I have met interesting women from different walks of life. I would like to have a tea. My house is small so inviting everyone is out of the question. I don’t want people to get their feelings hurt because they heard I had a party and were not invited.
The thing is, where I used to live, people entertained a lot and understood that a host doesn’t invite the same crowd all the time. If it is a dance party, I don’t invite people who don’t dance. If canasta is on the agenda, I don’t invite people who don’t play. If it is a dressy cocktail party, I don’t invite people who pride themselves on the fact that they never dress up.
I sympathize with the LW. If her event is only peopled by that club, it becomes a club event no matter what. While the club is fun, LW wants different conversation, different points of view, and different faces. She may even want to widen her aqaintance’s circle of friends by introducing them to each other. Even if she had a huge house that could accommodate everyone, the whole club might just hang with each other instead of mingling.

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Dee January 25, 2017 at 7:00 pm

What about giving invitations that are very specifically meant only for that one person? Such as, “Dear Susan – I am having a party and would love it if you’d come. You have such a gift at cards/dancing/whatever and I’m looking forward to having you at my table. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to wear and you can catch me up on the latest gossip with your [specific situation]. Please RSVP by suchandsuch date. I really hope you can make it; you are so special to me.” Such an invitation (with much better wording, I hope) is so personal that it would be difficult for anyone to read “open party” into it. It certainly can’t be passed around for anyone else to use.

Having said that, it’s an awful commentary on society today that strategies have to be employed to combat boors such as OP’s “guests”.

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admin January 26, 2017 at 12:19 am

One could presume that receiving a mailed invitation or an email that is specifically addressed to the potential guest as being very specifically meant for that one person.

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Dee January 26, 2017 at 1:31 am

I agree, one could presume that (one SHOULD presume that) and it’s sad that, for some, they have to go even further than that to ensure no party crashers. It seems there’s no way for some hosts to throw a party these days without having to cover way more bases than they are obligated to.

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Lara January 26, 2017 at 10:35 am

I would suggest perhaps hand delivering in the invitation, if possible, so that you can explain that it’s for just a very small group of ladies so that you can have a chance to get to know each other. I think most people would be flattered to be invited to such an “exclusive” event, and would not be likely to ask another person along. If there are more people that you want to do this with than you can host at one time, plan to do a succession of tea parties. If word does get around that you’re hosting such events, people will excitedly wait until they get their invitation.

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Jinx January 25, 2017 at 9:28 am

Don’t people think it’s odd they never receive invitations? Don’t they think it’s odd they don’t have to RSVP?

My initial reaction would be to continue on as if that hadn’t happened and no other women were coming. I mean, it’s not as if they’ve let you know. You have limited space, so your invited guests can have a spot at your table. If you can, feign surprise when uninvited (and unannounced!) guests show up and graciously mention you only planned for so many people (which is true of the RSVP anyway), but if you can, create extra seating elsewhere (couch, kitchen) and put all of the uninvited guests together.

It would be gracious, but hopefully will slyly convey that and invite and RSVP is important. Otherwise, you will never be able to have a private, small-er event again and invite anyone from that group.

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Shalamar January 25, 2017 at 9:58 am

I’ve been on the other side of this. My husband and I were friends with two couples, “Colin/Tara” and “Doug/Shanda”. We ran into Colin one day, and he told us that Doug and Shanda wanted us all to come to dinner at their house on Saturday. I can’t remember exactly how Colin worded it, but he made it sound like Doug and Shanda had invited us, and he was just passing on the invitation. In hindsight, I DEFINITELY should have called Shanda and confirmed – for some reason I didn’t.

Well, you know where this is going. My husband and I showed up at Doug and Shanda’s house, and it was very clear from the looks on their faces that they hadn’t expected us. We had no idea what to do. We ended up staying anyway, but it was very awkward. Taught me a lesson – never, ever accept a third-hand invitation without checking first!

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chechina January 28, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Oh, jeez, I wince at this because I had a similar thing happen to me when I was a young person. I was willing to give the uninvited a break until the OP posted how clique-y they were. I guess a lesson was not learned for them!

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JD January 25, 2017 at 10:03 am

If it’s too late to stop the extras from coming if they wish, then I’d go with what admin says to do, because it sure will say a lot for you without you having to say a word, but it would be good if it could be stated for future event purposes that not every event held by a member in her home is open to all. Trouble is, who should be the one to state it? I know I’d have a problem saying it, because I would feel so incredibly awkward.
Guests inviting other guests is wrong and incredibly unfair to the host/hostess!

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Amanda January 25, 2017 at 10:13 am

Place cards are a great idea. That will only have to happen once. The alternative is having the special event turn into an open house.

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Lisa January 25, 2017 at 10:27 am

I disagree that it should have been up to the friend to say something to the blabbers/uninvited guests.

I do agree that you should put out placecards that make it obvious that this was an invitation-only event. Only the most clueless would miss this signal.

OP, it sounds like a fantastic event! Let us know how it went!

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Melissa January 25, 2017 at 10:56 am

My girls are at the age where they’re invited to a number of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. DH and I have been invited to a few, but most are the girls’ friends and we have not met the parents or, in one case, the child. Last weekend, we dropped the girls off at the ceremony and saw friends of ours. They asked why we weren’t staying, and we said we hadn’t been invited. The mom’s response, “We were confused about that since only DD’s name was on the invitation. So we called and asked if we could come and the child’s mother said it was fine.” Wow. So they invited themselves to a party because they didn’t know they weren’t invited when their names weren’t on the invitation. I wouldn’t have been as nice as the child’s mother.

For my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah this past year, I received a few calls from parents hinting that they were confused about whether they were invited. I made it clear that DD had invited quite a few children who would be attending without their parents. Only one parent didn’t figure it out, and when she tried to stay at our party, I sweetly walked her towards the door and let her know an appropriate time to pick up her child.

Some people are clueless and some people have no qualms inviting themselves to parties. A polite spine is all that’s necessary to quash that behavior.

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Kate January 25, 2017 at 4:13 pm

I have never understood why people would be confused as to whether or not they are invited when their name isn’t on the invitation. If I was inviting you, why wouldn’t your name be on there? Did you think I was issuing you an invisible invitation?

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NostalgicGal January 25, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Back in the 1960’s with a lot more stay at home moms, my first and only kid birthday party. I was allowed to invite six friends, most were from school, two were a little younger. (first grade btw). One showed up with her girl cousin who was very bossy and ended up dominating playtime… and ELEVEN younger siblings combined, down to crawling. YES. The moms showed up with all the other kids. THEN STAYED. (they didn’t just drop the smalls off and leave. So mom had all these others to deal with). We did cake and presents like immediately and I had to take all my guests upstairs to entertain and mom set up the living room quickly to deal with the toddler party and finally everyone left. We cleaned up for four days. I never had another kid party.

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Pam January 25, 2017 at 10:43 pm

This reminds me of a similar situation. My husband was the director of a camp and a family we knew rented the facility for a wedding. The bride was surprised that we weren’t dressed up and attending…. I said “we didn’t know we were invited!” and her mouth dropped open – “Oh, I thought you’d just assume you were!” Nope, and I would a million times over want to miss an invite I was expected to be at, than show up at one I wasn’t!

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kgg January 26, 2017 at 7:01 am

Same here! I have definitely been expected at events I was not formally invited to (or texted at, emailed, etc. It’s not like I need an embossed invite) but I would rather that than the awkward feeling of showing up somewhere and getting “Oh…what a nice surprise. Thank you for coming?”

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Anon January 26, 2017 at 10:20 am

Sounds like you weren’t even related. Especially for something like that I wouldn’t assume I was invited either, otherwise friends just talking about their kids upcoming weddings would have a lot more guests!

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Shoegal January 25, 2017 at 11:24 am

I gave this more thought and I think if you hear about an event you weren’t invited to then you should make it a point not to just go. That is how I react and there wouldn’t ever be a problem if everyone reacted that way. I think – well – so and so didn’t invite me – I’m not going. There have been events that I have been made aware of through word of mouth that I was NOT invited to. Once a friend of mine, Crystal, told me to drop by her friend’s house, Kendall, after we left my Mom’s on Thanksgiving Day. I did not receive an invite to show up there by Kendall – and wasn’t about to just do that. Crystal texted me several times urging me to come that day telling me that Kendall really wants us there – I told her my husband and I were really tired and weren’t able to make it.

Now I have an annual bonfire – and yeah – I send out invites but for that party – I’m all – the more the merrier about it. I don’t care if you show up with a friend – or bring a carload but that is a different kind of party.

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stacey January 25, 2017 at 11:50 am

Wow! Your only recourse was to have had someone speak up and that person “blew” it! Find an intermediary and have them intercede with the blabbers. (And reconsider how “fun” it is to associate with someone whose enthusiasm so outpaces her common sense that you’re left with a mess!) Good on you for accommodating- ONCE. Your impromptu visitors are in etiquette purgatory… it’s the blabbers who belong in ehell.

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livvy17 January 25, 2017 at 11:55 am

Tough one. I’d probably would have 1) sent some general email saying I was worried that there had been some confusion, and people from the game group mistakenly thought brunch was for gaming group, not professional work group, etc., and if that didn’t clear up the matter: 2) Acted SUPREMELY surprised when answering the door to uninvited guests, with all the following said in the most friendly, smiling manner: “OH! Sally! How are you? What’s going on/what are you doing here?” I’m so sorry, I didn’t know how the wired got crossed, but this isn’t a gamers event! But, come in….”

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Tracy P January 26, 2017 at 10:34 am

I’d actually go this route, but take it one step farther. It might be a little passive aggressive, but I would act like I didn’t know what the non-invited “guests” were there. Maybe act as though they were just stopping by for an impromptu visit and unfortunately you’re busy. But I would not allow them in. They were not invited.

I just really don’t get why the OP decided she was a doormat and didn’t grow a spine. Stand in the door when the un-invited arrive and inform them politely that there was some sort of mix-up and this was a closed event.

PS – anyone betting that the gamers do this again if OP invites any of them?

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Anon January 26, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Oh they will absolutely do this again. I doubt from the way OP treated them that they felt as though they crashed the party. They probably think it was amazing and that from now on they’ll always just get to go, whether it was invitation only or not!

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Redblues January 25, 2017 at 1:09 pm

I agree. I would contact whomever had invited the other people to my house and let her know that she was mistaken. Leave the awkward conversations up to her. I would probably greet any self invited guests with polite confusion and tell them “This isn’t a good time for a visit, but if you ever want to stop in, please call and let me know. If I have the time I would be delighted.”

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lakey January 25, 2017 at 1:20 pm

“I would have contacted the women who blabbed about it and let them know that you’d heard that they’d invited extra people to your private *sit-down dinner* event and that it wasn’t an open invitation so you’d appreciate it if they’d let the people know that they had made a mistake extending an unapproved invitation.”

I agree with part of this, but not all of it. If OP wants to continue with the gaming group she needs to handle this in a way that causes as little embarrassment and hurt feelings as possible. I would talk directly to the blabbers and explain that sometimes you have parties that are not connected to the gaming group, and where you have to limit the number of people. Therefore you’d like them to not discuss the non-gaming group parties around other people who may not be invited.

I would not have the blabbers disinvite the extra guests because there is no way to do that without creating a level of bad feeling that would affect OP’s being a part of the gaming group. For the present brunch, she’s better off to do what she has decided to do, accept the fact that more people are coming and make the best of it, but try to avoid the same problem recurring.

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Dee January 25, 2017 at 7:18 pm

lakey – OP has already suffered hurt feelings and embarrassment, through absolutely no fault of her own. The blabbers and the unwelcome party crashers have created the bad feelings, not the OP, and the fallout has already happened, since she says she is unlikely to invite these people to her house in the future, due to their behaviour. She does not have to explain the criteria by which she chooses her guests. It’s not up to her to pacify the boors.

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lakey January 26, 2017 at 6:51 pm

I agree with you, but if she intends to continue inviting the few members of the gaming group who blabbed, and doesn’t want a repeat of the problem, then it might be better to say something. I personally would be a bit soured on these people, and since I wrote that comment OP has said that she is limiting her invites in the future, which is a shame.

I understand how OP feels. I’ve been in the position of hosting, going to the expense, and a lot of hard work. Then having other people add to the headaches. You end up feeling like it just isn’t worth it.

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Anon January 26, 2017 at 10:22 am

I’m not sure I would want to continue to associate with a bunch of people who just assumed they could invite themselves to events that they weren’t invited to and clearly didn’t care about burdening the host(ess).

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Lomita Momcat January 25, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Admin says: ” It doesn’t seem to occur to people that the hosts can have other circles of friends they wish to integrate at a hosted function.”

“Circles of friends.” Ugh.

This is a concept that grates on me, because it implies that there are different grades or degrees of friendship, and that some “friends” are not as worthy or good as other “friends.” That is not how I conduct my friendships personally, but I’m aware that for me, friendship doesn’t mean the same thing it does to other people. There are no such things as second-class friends in my world. In this context, what OP and Admin do in maintaining somewhat separate “circles of friends” who don’t all have the same invitation privileges is completely unacceptable. In my world, you don’t call someone a friend and then shut them out of activities that other friends get invited to. That’s just unbelievably mean and demeaning, in my book.

If I replace the word “friends” in “circle of friends” with “acquaintances” and think of it in those terms, I can understand the problem and the difficulties go away. Admin and OP have a large circle of acquaintances who revolve in various orbits around OP and Admin: the gaming night group, the work-related group, the charity or other civic activity group, etc.

These are circles of acquaintances that have some overlap but serve a networking function that is pleasant and useful, fulfills a need and serve purposes.

If the problem is considered in that context, the solution becomes easy: OP explains to the miscreants that not all of her social functions are purely friendship, some are more civic or associated with a functional activity of some kind, which provides an opportunity for the people in that group to network or touch bases with each other in a way that’s both functional and enjoyable.

In that context, it makes sense to maintain separate invite lists. The people in my cactus and succulent club group wouldn’t have the same reasons for getting together as my wildlife rescue and rehabilitation group, and my arts and crafts group wouldn’t have the same reasons for getting together as my voter registration group. And the people I get together with for purely social reasons, my actual FRIENDS, are an entirely separate thing. There might be some overlap of the people involved, but the functions, the activities, are different and separate.

In this context, there are no hurt feelings and no relationships broken over maintaining separate invite lists. And I think that’s how OP has to address the problem: that not all of the social functions she organizes are purely social, and not all of the “circles of friends” she has are really “friends” in the purely social sense. The people who keep inviting themselves to other functions that aren’t purely social just need to have the situation clarified: some functions are for fun and some have another purpose, and there is a distinction that has nothing to do with how much OP enjoys the company of the people involved.

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Kate January 25, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Woah! Maybe I am misunderstanding your post, but your first paragraph is a completely wrong definition of what “circles of friends” means.

It doesn’t mean a ranking of your friends. It means identifying friends you know from certain places/groups/interests. For instance, your circle of friends from work, your circle of friends from the rose gardening club, book group, etc. This helps you figure out who you should invite to what events and who might get along well with each other, and enjoy each other’s company.

It used to be something of an art, inviting just the right people for each party. I am sure we have all felt the difference between a party and event that is a hit, and one that falters. Not because the food is bad or because anyone is rude, but because the people invited don’t click.

As an example, say you have 20 friends (4 from book club, 4 from work, 4 historical society friends, 4 political advocacy friends, and 4 garden group friends). Each circle you usually interact with separately, at events, and lunches, etc. But you want to have a dinner party and invite people from all your different circles. Your dining room, living room, etc, only seats 10 people. Who do you invite?

Maybe 2 people from book club who you know like histories, 1 historical society friend, 1 work friend who shares your political views, 1 political advocacy friend, and all 4 garden group friends. Of course that is just for a dinner party. Event matters, so does “type”. You probably wouldn’t want to invite all your loud and boisterous friends to one party, or all of your more quiet and retiring friends, you would want a mix of personalities as well.

Emily Post’s very first etiquette book, which is available as a reprint, talks about this issue, and gives tips on it.

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Kate January 25, 2017 at 5:00 pm

I meant to add:

TL;DR

If you have more friends than space, of course you can’t invite everyone to everything. The solution is also not to never invite anyone to anything. You simply invite people on a rotating basis.

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Liz January 26, 2017 at 8:45 am

This is how i define “circle of friends”. I don’t rank them by importance, but more how I know them, where I know them from, and most importantly, do they have similar interests, and will they get along? Because I have some friends I just know, if I “combine” with others, that it will be awkward. Not because anyone is mean or anything like that, but simply because their interests are so diverse, they have absolutely nothing in common. And it could very well be awkward.

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KellyK January 27, 2017 at 8:45 am

Yes, this, exactly. It’s not only about how close you are with someone that determines whether you invite them to a specific thing. That said, there’s nothing wrong with not being close friends with everyone in a group either.

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Miss Cathy January 25, 2017 at 5:05 pm

But if you invited ALL your friends to ALL your events, then surely that would limit the type of things you could do as well as your enjoyment of them. I have things in common with all my friends, but not all of them have things in common; not all my friends want to be friends with each other. Plus, the types of conversations you have at a big party are so different to the interactions you have at a dinner for eight.

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stacey January 25, 2017 at 6:32 pm

This seems unnecessarily convoluted and potentially a needless contortion of semantics. At its heart, the issue is not who is a friend, who is an acquaintance, or who is part of a specific club. The issue is that the host of an event has sole right of invitation and control of the guest list for any event and for any level of formality or reason of gathering. Stripped to that bare basic, the rest becomes clear. Hosts have a set time, resources and energy to expend on an event. An uninvited guest is an interloper- an intruder. A miscreant who falsely assures such a person that they are welcome or who fails to be discreet about events that don’t include all of the present assembled company is even worse. They either mistakenly or knowingly hijack an event (as obviously happened here based on OP’s report upstream in the comments) and cause needless difficulties for the hosts and the whole of their social context. Hurt feelings are inevitable. Also, I think that no one has the right to an explanation of a reason that an invitation was not forthcoming. Putting a host in the position of explaining themselves is ill considered. They might conclude that a friend who does so is more trouble than they are worth.

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Dee January 25, 2017 at 7:14 pm

I have circles of friends that do not overlap. It has nothing to do with “different grades or degrees”. I don’t have “second-class” friends.

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admin January 26, 2017 at 12:17 am

Actually you do. They are called “acquaintances”. No one has an identical relationship with every single person they happen to know.

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THE OP January 25, 2017 at 11:37 pm

In this particular case there *could* be hurt feelings. This is called an Inspiration Brunch. I purposefully invite a certain type of woman to it – a motivated, ambitious, positive woman that inspires me. I have women of all levels of friendship at this function – colleagues, spiritual mentors, acquaintances, etc. The level of friendship is not taken into account but being inspirational is what I pay attention to.

In the invitation I mention that they are receiving the invite because they inspire me. How can I be inspired by some of these uninvited guests, some of whom I hardly know at all? I know little about them except they like to game every month.

It puts me in a very awkward position. “I’m so sorry, you see I have only invited women that inspire me and you are not on the guest list.”

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Lara January 26, 2017 at 10:45 am

It sounds like you handled everything as well as you could this year. For next year, as you say, you will probably need to exclude any game party members unless you are a close enough friend to personally explain the situation and make sure they understand it and will not discuss it with the rest of the group. For the gaming group, if you really do still like spending time with them a year from now, perhaps the solution would be to plan a separate luncheon for them, so that when they ask you about “when is the luncheon going to be?” you can tell them. Since it doesn’t seem like they enjoyed mixing with other guests anyway, they shouldn’t care that they’re the only ones at the luncheon. And then have your usual inspiration luncheon separately.

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livvy17 January 27, 2017 at 4:46 pm

You don’t need to tell them anything about your event, or explain why they weren’t invited. In these cases, less is normally more. Something like, “I’m so sorry, Sally, since this is a very small event, I only invite a few people each year. I’ll look forward to seeing you at next game night!”

If they press, (rude), you can either repeat, “I like to keep this event a bit more intimate” or “It’s not an event where I can fit in all the gamers. Bye!!” Or say, ” This is something separate from gamers group.” Period. Full Stop. It’s hard to keep yourself from trying to explain / mollify, but that only gives the rude people the impression that you owe them something.

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Tracy W January 25, 2017 at 11:47 pm

Huh? “Invitation privileges”?
I don’t quite follow your comment. Do you limit your friends to the number of people who can comfortably fit within your house and classify everyone else as “acquaintances”? Do you have an incredibly large house and thus can host any number of people to whatever event you like?

In my world, I make friends without bothering to count, but that doesn’t mean I can fit every friend always into a seated dinner. Or indeed a winter cocktail party. Some people are just not going to fit because my house is just not *that* big.

So, rather than limit my entertaining to summer BBQs, I invite some friends to some events and other friends to other events. It’s not a perfect solution, I would adore to have such a massive house I could host all my friends at a winter dinner party (and be able to afford to hire catering!) But I prefer that to believing that all my friends must be invited to everything, or limiting my total number of friendships to only those who can fit around my inside table. Large friendship circles shouldn’t be a privilege of the ultra-rich.

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Kathryn January 26, 2017 at 12:01 am

If you were to picture “circle of friends”, do you picture concentric circles, like a ripple in a pond, getting bigger and wider the further out you go?

I picture something different. I picture something more like rippleS in a pond in rain. These are my high school friends, my church friends, my uni friends, etc. I’m perfectly at ease thinking about them as circles of friends because they are often separate groups with minimal overlap. Some people in those groups are closer to me than others and that’s OK. They’re all my friends, but not all friendships are equal because I just click better with Anna, or spend more time with Cathy because we live closer and both have young children.

For my most recent birthday, I invited 12 friends that I felt closest to. A few were from the same circle of friends, but others were from different circles. A couple had no other common friends. But they were the 12 friends I loved most. Maybe there could be someone in your succulent club that you just click with and want to be friends with. That’s OK! Sometimes acquaintance are friends that you haven’t spent enough time with yet 😉

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Goldie January 26, 2017 at 10:38 am

No, that isn’t what “circles of friends” means at all. It means my bowling friends vs my board-game friends vs my book-club friends vs my baseball-fan friends vs my work friends and so on. The idea is to avoid sticking incompatible people or groups of people into the same room and creating an awkward situation where they have to socialize, but cannot, because they have few or no mutual interests.

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EllenS January 25, 2017 at 1:49 pm

I would stop inviting the “blabbers” to structured events with a set guest list, and only invite them to shindigs where the more really is the merrier.

Depending on how the invitations go out, I’ve had success with including the list of invitees right on the invitation. That at least makes it clear that it’s intended for specific people.

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Tracy W January 25, 2017 at 11:51 pm

The LW says that the babblers are, apart from this, some of her favourite people in the group. Not everyone has such a wide social circle that it’s always convenient to cut guests who aren’t perfect in every way.

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Annie January 30, 2017 at 12:38 pm

When I got married, a coworker insisted that he *must* be invited to my wedding because my fiance and I were so important to him. I hadn’t planned to invite coworkers and he knew that. But I took pity on him instead of having a polite spine like I should have.

He announced as publicly as possible (in a meeting, at work) that he would be going to my wedding. He knew that other people there (most of whom were better friends with me) were not invited. In retrospect, I realized that was his plan the whole time. And I understood why he was so friendless.

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NostalgicGal January 31, 2017 at 10:38 am

My sympathies. At least when I got married it was just college acquaintances. One I invited and he had a very important appointment with social services that day. I also knew how destitute he was so I insisted that if he couldn’t make the wedding at least come to the reception (which had sandwiches and such, aka a free meal). He did show up a bit late to the reception, wearing his broken taped glasses and looking pretty poor (you usually dressed grungies to talk to the dole people) and took a serious plateful. I went to talk to him as he got settled and scarfed, thanking him for coming. This tipped my mom and aunts off that this maybe WAS NOT the janitor (mom told me later she thought he was the janitor-oh no he was my college grad student writer friend that was late because of an appointment) and yes he appreciated free food). I hope, Annie, that it all sorted out ‘good’ at the end….

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Cat2 January 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm

OP, given that the game group is apparently super-inclusive, I would take care to make sure that you invite some of them to other events that you host, while *not* inviting the women you originally invited to this one.

As a question of balance and so that it will likely go over better when you tell people that you carefully invite according to your room, and space, and guest list that you think will mix well or be more interested in particular events over others. That will help accustom them to the idea that not every party is an open invite, while not drawing a clear “exclusion” line of some of the group over others of the group. And sometimes you invite people not because you click with them so much, but because you think your other guests will. It’s another form of providing entertainment.

If some people turn out to be poor guests, it becomes easier to address excluding them on that basis, rather than “never invited you because we’re just not that close, even though we share a group and friends in common”.

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NostalgicGal January 25, 2017 at 4:53 pm

I have several overlappers, (groups and friends) and sort it by a specific invitation, actually make up an invitation, with RSVP card/info. Wording is that YOU are invited (or you and +1) to the event. Space and such are limited so I need YOUR rsvp in a timely matter. It’s pretty clear at the start and all the way through, I am inviting a select list, and like a wedding reception, inviting others isn’t quite kosher. I learned so much from my 50th birthday (that I hosted and had catered, all you had to do was show, and everyone got a ‘door prize’) with the circle I have now… and no, calling me midday of the event to RSVP for 4 hours later (event) doesn’t cut it. You ride it out once, then you take measures. Make sure you talk to the bubbly outgoing ones about next time and stress it up front that YOU are inviting a list from across your friendship and THIS TIME the entire group (gaming) isn’t being invited. “Next time” when you plan something with the entire group and YOU will handle the inviting, thanks.

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iwadasn January 25, 2017 at 6:45 pm

Regardless of how close-knit and inclusive a group it is, it’s still extremely boorish and presumptuous to invite people to someone else’s event.

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Pat January 26, 2017 at 12:48 pm

It’s also extremely boorish not to make an attempt to mingle and be civil to other guests at the event and make it obvious you’re only interested in your own little clique.

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NostalgicGal January 31, 2017 at 10:42 am

THIS. If it’s not scheduled/specified as being topic-specific, expect to mingle and flow with whatever else is going on at the event.

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THE OP January 25, 2017 at 11:45 pm

Update on the event:

All 8 uninvited guests appeared at my door. I hastily set up a place for them to eat. Unfortunately I don’t think any of them got the hint. One uninvited person brought a basket of muffins.

The gaming group was not very friendly to anyone outside the group and was quite rude to one of my friends attempted to sit at a table they had claimed during one of our activities. I was told about it afterwards but I already felt they were not being very friendly before being told about that.

The brunch was beautiful and the event went well other than these things mentioned. I think I might just invite my best friend to my next event and no one else from the gaming group. It was too much hassle to deal with and their rudeness and complete lack of awareness was off putting to me.

Thank you everyone for your insight.

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Lomita Momcat January 26, 2017 at 1:06 am

“All 8 uninvited guests appeared at my door.”

And this is where you put on your polite spine, politely explain that this is a dreadful mistake, the event is invitation only and only invited guests can be accommodated. You apologize for the inconvenience and the misunderstanding, explain that you must return to your guests, promise that you’ll speak with them later, and close the door.

Yes, embarrassing for them, embarrassing for you, possibly embarrassing for invited guests. Life is hard. If 8 people in your gaming circle completely misread what was going on and didn’t realize they weren’t welcome, then I think you really need to re-examine the way you communicate with these people, and how you come across to them. Eight people getting something so completely totally wrong is a very high rate of cluelessness. I’d sure like to hear their side of the story on this, why they believed they would be welcome.

” I hastily set up a place for them to eat. Unfortunately I don’t think any of them got the hint”. Once you invited them in and offered them hospitality, there was no hint to get. They became your guests.

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admin January 26, 2017 at 7:00 am

Guests that she did not have the room to proper seat them, guests who had not rsvped in any way. If there was an agenda to the event ,which there was, and food was to be served at X time, there is no other way to accommodate 40% more guests than to hastily set a place for them in the only spot available in the house, i.e. an obscure corner.

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kgg January 26, 2017 at 7:25 am

OP, in the end, they made it easy for you: these are clearly not people who should be invited to your non-gaming parties. If half the gaming group (invited and uninvited) were spectacular and the other half were rude, then that would continue the conundrum. It can be awkward when friends/acquaintances from different parts of your life meet, and sometimes it goes well, and other times it really doesn’t.

If they ask about your annual brunch next year, then just tell them it’s not a “gaming” function and leave it at that.

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NostalgicGal January 26, 2017 at 8:03 am

I game. I have gamed for almost 40 years. I have a number of friends that I met through gaming, in person and online. Most of them my spouse has never met and never will, he doesn’t need to and they are not sharing common interests. I would not invite them to join me at Red Hats, for example, because it is also not in their interest. They also all know, that if an event happens not everyone may be able to attend or get to attend, and are grown up about it. The few that have issues, we just make sure that those few are NOT in the loop or know. It’s KNOWING who you know well enough. OP has learned, with the gaming group, that if she ever invites some of them again to a non-gaming centered gathering, that she will have to make it clear that this is not a ‘pass it on’ invite, and that THIS TIME the list is being kept small. And that it’s not gaming themed but something else. AS for telling the others, being honest about ‘This time I didn’t think you would have enjoyed the meeting/gathering/brunch because it wasn’t gaming oriented.’ said nicely enough, SHOULD work. If it doesn’t then you’ll have to plan differently next time.

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AppleEye January 26, 2017 at 10:07 am

That sounds like a good plan, OP. How unfortunate that you had to deal with the boors, but how wonderful that otherwise it went well!

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MrsSML January 25, 2017 at 11:54 pm

I’ve had events like this get out of control at times and it used to frustrate me a lot. And then I realized something; all of these people are people who like me and who are looking forward to spending time in my home with me. I began to try and treat the art of hospitality as more of an honour than obligation and now I’m thrilled when there are extra friends. Does it make more work? Not if I keep things organized. The cost doesn’t have to be out of control either and it makes for good memories and great times.

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VA Lady January 26, 2017 at 10:34 am

I think it’s lovely that you have a “more the merrier” attitude, and look at it as a case of your friends enjoying you, and your hospitality, so much that they will show up even when they have not been invited. This is something of a different situation, in my opinion.

The OP does larger, more informal gatherings, in her home for larger groups. This was a seated brunch for 20, by invitation only. This is not, in any way, a “more the merrier” situation. This is not a case of the OP needing to be more organized to accommodate the uninvited guests. There is no way to be “organized” enough to expand a seated brunch for 2o into a seated brunch for 28 with no notice.

As to the notice thing, the only reason the OP had any idea that it was even possible that she would be entertaining more guests than had RSVPd, indeed, guests who she didn’t invite, was because her best friend was in attendance at the gathering when someone took it upon themselves to begin issuing invitations in the OP’s name, without her knowledge. For those saying that best friend should have said something when that happened, I’d like to know how she should have done that. Should she have gone to the blabber and told them to knock it off? Should she have taken those who “accepted” the invitation aside and told them that they were not, in fact, invited? I’m pretty sure that the OP is grateful to her friend for telling her what might happen. At least the OP had a basic game plan for the day of the brunch. No thanks to the blabber, who issued 8 invitations to the brunch and didn’t even bother to give the OP a heads up.

As to what I would do now, based on the OP’s update on how the brunch went and how the gaming group acted? At this point, I wouldn’t do anything. When it came time to issue invitations to the next brunch, I would leave the name of the blabber off of the list. Their invitations to my events going forward would only be to those events that truly were “the more the merrier”. I’m not sure how I would answer the question if the blabber asked why she had been omitted from the guest list that year.

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iwadasn January 31, 2017 at 7:58 pm

This was not at all a matter of the OP not being organized enough. She was perfectly organized for her brunch for a dozen people; she had no reason to, nor should she be expected to, organize a brunch that would accommodate almost twice the number of people she invited. If guests who show up uninvited to an RSVP-only event find the accommodations lacking, they are to blame for the situation, not the host.

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Devil's Advocate January 26, 2017 at 3:35 am

I think sometimes we overthink things that are, in fact, quite simple.

It is definitely rude – or, at least clueless – to invite ourselves to any event. And that’s it. I do not understand all that fuss about how to handle uninvited (and unprepared for) guests.

I think that the best thing to do would be act if I knew nothing (and officially, that would be true – I never issued an invitation, and I would find it extremely awkward to contact people and tell them NOT to come to my party only on a basis of a second-hand information which makes me ASSUME that POSSIBLY they may WANT to appear. Can you imagine receiving a phone call from a host telling you that you should NOT come to her party to which you were never invited? Wouldn’t it mean assuming that you are a rude clueless boor that NEEDS to be told such an obvious thing that you should not come without a prior invitation, RSVP etc.?)

I would feel more comfortable assuming that my guests are normal polite people who would not need that kind of information.

And if the unexpected guests show at my door at the time of the party, why not tell them “Oh, Sara, I am extremely sorry but there must have been a misunderstanding – this is not an open party for Club X, and although I would love to have you over sometime else, this time I unfortunately have not planned for an extra guest. ”

Is it awkward? Yes, it is, but should not the awkwardness hit primarily the person who is responsible for creating the situation (showing up uninvited)? Why should I be extra protective of the feelings of a person who committed a faux pas, to the extent that I invite them in (?) although I have no place/food for them (???)? Would not THIS be awkward to many more people (the invited guests, the hosts, and to the uninvited guests as well – I would be MORTIFIED if I made such a mistake and made the host lean over backwards to accommodate me)?

The only considerations I owe to the uninvited guest is, in my opinion, to be polite and assume that was a genuine mistake (because this is the way I would like to be treated if I commited such a blooper), tell him/her I would be happy to see him/her any other time, and to make him/her understand that I by no means consider him excluded but THIS TIME I just CANNOT accommodate him/her as I did not plan for it.

Why not polish my spine and beat around the bush in such situations? The guest was the one who created the situation, I think it is right when the repercussions (although polite) fall on him and no one else. If he/she is a decent person who just made a mistake, he/she should understand, and it is clean solution with no potential of accumulating hidden grudge. I prefer to be on clear terms with the people I love, rather than any passive-aggressive behaviour.

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Susan January 26, 2017 at 7:36 pm

I would do this in a situation that occurs like this. I would politely turn away uninvited people and tell them that this is a private event and they have not been invited to it and cannot be accommodated.

I cannot imagine going to a private event at someone’s home that I have not been invited to.

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Lex January 26, 2017 at 6:08 am

Wow this story has received some quite contentious and varied responses.

I think in situations like this, context is key. If Group A are used to organising their events via social media and word of mouth, while Group B only assembles upon invitation, you have cognitive dissonance. It is wrong of people in Group A to make the assumption they are invited to an event hosted by someone not in attendance when said event is being discussed.

If ‘Grace’ is hosting an event, then ‘Grace’ should be the one to advertise said event – either by word of mouth or via social media. For someone in Group A, to hear ‘Grace is having a party tomorrow night, you should come’ from someone other than Grace herself or a clearly defined representative (“Grace asked me to let you all know the details”) then that person should not assume they are invited without making contact with ‘Grace’ to confirm.

That being said, I disagree with the passive-aggressive ‘punishing’ by putting on a performance when uninvited guests arrive. My understanding of the suggested solution was that the host should deliberately ‘not prepare’ and make a performance of being inconvenienced when these uninvited guests turn up in order to make a point about how they weren’t invited. It’s this duplicity and underhanded meanness I disagree with. I certainly don’t think the Host should be expected to produce extra space, food and fine dining conditions for the party crashers, but isn’t etiquette not just about ‘what is right’ but about behaving with grace and treating guests with dignity? By making a performance of finding them a space, and hurrying about, you use their social blunder as an opportunity to humiliate them, which IMO is cruel and unnecessary. They made a blunder, they were boorish and clueless, but to humiliate them for it is no better.

I would suggest that in this situation, the host, the invited, AND the uninvited guests would be best served with kindness and honesty. It is not cruel or rude to explain to someone who turns up uninvited that it is not going to be possible to accommodate them at this time. Yes, it’s awkward for all concerned, but it’s the truth. If I chose to turn up to a party having not been directly invited by the guest, and the host explained to me, at the door, that there was a misunderstanding and that her event was not a ‘Group A’ event, I would be mortified that I’d tried to gatecrash. Being turned away from an event you’ve not been invited to is a perfectly reasonable outcome and doesn’t have to be acrimonious.

The outcome of turning away uninvited guests is that a) the ‘blabbers’ who WERE invited get to see first hand the ‘damage’ their thoughtlessness causes (and you’ll probably find that the gatecrashers will likely blame the blabbers for misleading them far more than the host who turns them away); b) The host and guests are not forced to share the evening with gatecrashers, the food portions are unaffected; and c) the gatecrashers learn a valuable lesson in how they shouldn’t assume they are invited unless the host says so directly.

It is not wrong for the host to stick up for herself and refuse to accommodate uninvited people. I just think it would be kinder all ’round to be honest and stand firm than to use humiliation tactics to ‘shame’ people.

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Goldie January 26, 2017 at 10:47 am

My younger son lived in an off-campus apartment with three roommates when his 20th birthday rolled around. The apartment had a large common area and he and his friends decided to have an all-out birthday party. He set the limit at 50 guests. Throughout the night, a total of TWO HUNDRED showed up. (They kept coming and going, so not all at the same time.) Some of them total strangers. People’s personal belongings got stolen and my son swore never to have a large party again.

This is what OP’s letter reminded me of. This is something that shouldn’t really be happening outside of the Animal House movie. Adults don’t invite people to someone else’s gatherings, unless the host explicitly said to bring friends. I don’t blame OP for deciding not to invite anyone from this group at all going forward.

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THE OP January 26, 2017 at 12:05 pm

I appreciate all of the comments. I would like to point out something to those advising me to turn these uninvited ladies away at my door. Almost everyone from the gaming group carpooled together. I would open the door, for example, to 4 ladies who drove in together and 2 out of 4 were uninvited. If I had taken your suggestion, the ladies that were invited would have left as well. If all 8 uninvited had come together and all at once it would have been easier to pull off your suggestion.

Some of you have said to the effect that it is partly my fault because I don’t have good boundaries (I’m summarizing here). I sent out invitations. I didn’t speak of it with anyone uninvited present. How much more clear can I be? I feel I have followed the same etiquette rules that have been in place for centuries.

I have thought a lot about it and I think the issue lies with the dynamic in the group. I’ve come to realize it’s more than just a “free-for-all” kind of mentality. I think there is quite a bit of co-dependency happening. Also the blabbers are very dynamic and convincing. I’m sure they promoted this party in a fantastic way.

The only black and white element to this is that uninvited people showed up to a sit-down brunch. If my best friend hadn’t been at that lunch and informed me, these 8 ladies would have completely blindsided me and we wouldn’t have had enough food.

The gray areas lie in how the situation could be handled. I did the best I could and learned some valuable lessons in the process. I will definitely think twice before inviting anyone from this gaming group in the future.

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Dee January 26, 2017 at 5:33 pm

You bring up something that has not been addressed, OP; the responsibility of the other gamers who said nothing while witnessing the blabbers’ passing along the invite. Are they the same guests who showed up with the party crashers and/or were those guests who did accompany the crashers aware that the latter were not invited? It seems there are more responsible for the mess than just the blabbers and the crashers. It sounds as if this group is extremely something, whether it’s selfish, entitled, clueless, immature, or what-have-you.

I think you did the best you could, OP, in a bad situation. Just remember the old saying – “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”. You’ve had the clearest warning about how these people behave. If you invite them to any future event you will never know how many will show up, since they freely invite anybody and everybody to others’ parties. Could be quite the shindig, if you enjoy strangers spilling out of house, all over the yard, into everything inside, and just generally not caring about the owner. You know, the kind of disregard they showed at the brunch, magnified.

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Celestia January 26, 2017 at 8:55 pm

So it’s funny…I don’t know what precise flavor of gaming you guys do (25 seems a bit large for the RPGs that this article was originally flavored for) but my brain went straight to the Five Geek Social Fallacies that have been going around the internet for a while.

http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html

It sounds like fallacies 1, 4, and 5 are present with this group, at least in part and from the little information we have from you. Maybe this will click with something you’ve seen, and make it easier to figure out how to deal with them in the future.

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THE OP January 27, 2017 at 12:42 am

When I wrote that we were gamers it never occurred to me that this term is used for “geek” kind of gaming. Not that it matters much but to specify without giving away too much we are the card playing type of “gamers”. 🙂

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NostalgicGal January 28, 2017 at 8:32 am

That’s still gaming and you’re still gamers. Whether or not ‘funny dice’ are involved. 🙂

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mark January 26, 2017 at 9:35 pm

I definitely understand where you are coming from. It’s easy in the abstract to say “I’d send them on their way if this happened to me”. But when they show up at your door in real life, it’s not so easy.

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Anon January 27, 2017 at 10:21 am

That’s when you open the door just a tiny little bit (or look through the peephole) and see who they are. If it’s not one of the invited people, then the door is already mostly (or already) closed, you just have to move it back a little bit more!

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Lyn January 26, 2017 at 4:15 pm

I really wish there was a way to make it clear to people who is invited and who isn’t. When my daughter got married last year, my grown nephew and his wife and two daughters from out of state were invited. They decided to make the wedding a “stopover” on a longer trip to Florida. Which was fine, of course. HOWEVER, they allowed each daughter to bring a friend for this trip to Florida. Since they were family, I didn’t say anything about it. However, can people not understand that if EVERYONE who is invited brought two extra people, we wouldn’t have enough seating, or food, or drinks??????? IF YOUR NAME IS NOT ON THE INVITATION (or you’re a plus one) YOU ARE NOT INVITED!

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NostalgicGal January 26, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Like family who got the wedding invite for Mr. & Mrs. (only names on the invite) because it was an adult only wedding; who went ahead and wrote in the kids and some +1’s and got the count up to seven extra. Yes. Seven. And acted like the world ended when they got informed they would be missed if they brought those other seven. There wasn’t room and the HC had enough spine to refuse them.

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o_gal January 27, 2017 at 9:17 am

And who can forget the epic thread where PastryGoddess turned away Sally, who showed up with extra guests after being explicitly told that they were not welcome? http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=136830.0

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Ruby January 26, 2017 at 8:53 pm

When answering the door when the party crashers arrive host says: “Hey (insert name here), what are you doing here.
Party crasher: I heard you were throwing a brunch today
Host: why yes I am, but it was an invite only event.
People who are rube and oblivious to their thoughtlessness need bluntness

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NostalgicGal January 31, 2017 at 10:50 am

Host: yes, I am, but I issued invites directly to everyone. Did you get an invitation through the mail from me?
Party crasher: Um no I didn’t, X told me
Host: Oh. Well I’m sorry that X was misinformed, and extended you the invite….

Tossing the shade and the onus onto the one that did the additional inviting while appearing to have only sent Invitations one couldn’t possibly mistake whom for and who sent those invites….

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Just4Kicks January 27, 2017 at 7:46 am

This may be a little off topic, but I am writing myself a note to show this to my teenaged daughter as soon as she gets home today.
Last night, she had her first (and certainly not her last) mean girls episode come to pass.
Two girls she was very friendly in the past teamed up and started texting her that they “know” she is spreading rumors about one of them.
She came flying downstairs in tears and I asked her “did you? ARE YOU doing that?”
She said she wasn’t, and I believe her.
She is a lot of wonderful things, and like everyone has faults, spreading gossip isn’t one of them.
I told her to hold her head up high at school, and let the storm roll by….it will.
I then told her some of my mean girl stories, and she actually laughed at a few.

This story of grown women having miscommunication, and some hurt feelings will show her it’s a part of life, and every girl and woman goes through things like this from time to time.

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NostalgicGal January 31, 2017 at 11:01 am

I am close to my 40th school reunion (they do ‘all school’ every 3 or so years) and a former classmate got ahold of me at the time of the death of my father. One thing she said so hit home. “I can understand now why you never have any interest in coming back or come back to one of the reunions–because we treated you so poorly. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.” Some of the rest of that 4 page letter was that a lot of them still hadn’t progressed, their biggest glory was still something they had done in highschool. I was part of a family that moved into the area, was not popular, was not related to everyone else and I totally blew up the grade curve. But it took HER 30 plus years to realize what a trash person she had been to me. (yes I did forgive her) They are starting to wind up strong for our 40th, and well, I think ducking the drama, the inviters (bring others in that make them feel good) and such will be doing without me again. If they are so still living in high school ‘glory past’ and not even facing reality with their family and grandchildren, UM, they don’t need me. I will be immune from any secondary invites…..

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Heather January 27, 2017 at 11:43 am

It seems clear that everyone agrees that blabbers shouldn’t blab and the uninvited shouldn’t show up. What seems to be clouding the issue somewhat is dealing with it in the right way and not stepping on the toes of people whose company, in another context, you enjoy. But I am firmly with Admin: I do not understand how any of them could have thought they were invited. Also, some commenters have written about not talking about events that not everyone is invited to. Are we not all adults? Are we all so insecure that we can’t fathom that sometimes groups splinter off or some events don’t include us for a number of reasons that aren’t hurtful? About 2 years ago, a friend of mine invited me to join an informal group of women who get together for a “Ladies Night” every 6 weeks or so. It just so happened that when I joined their group, one of them was organizing her second wedding. And yes, many from the group were invited because they were friends of long standing. Did it bother me when they discussed the upcoming wedding… an event that obviously would not include me because, while we all got along and they were happy to have me join the group going forward, I had known them for about a minute. No, it didn’t bother me. I am an adult and I understand that a specially planned event is exactly that… something that takes planning. It was also, of course, something special to the bride-to-be. But were they supposed to leave the table en masse and whisper in the bathroom so that I wouldn’t hear? Of course not… because I am no longer in high school. I am also very close to two married couples. I am divorced. We often have get togethers. But sometimes, they also do things that are more couple related. Do I feel shunned because they sometimes do things together that don’t include me because I am not in a couple? No. Again… because I am not in high school. Sometimes, circles of friends overlap and sometimes they don’t. If it’s a big deal to you, then you are overly sensitive. As to the rudeness of showing up to an event you weren’t invited to: if it had been a casual BBQ, perhaps people could have been forgiven for assuming no RSVP was necessary and there was a come one, come all type of vibe going on. But a sit-down dinner? No one just shows up to something like that.

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Ellex January 27, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Why am I not surprised this involved a gaming group? This is classic Geek Social Fallacy (two or three of them at least)

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THE OP January 30, 2017 at 2:15 am

Not that kind of gaming. 🙂 Card gaming. Sorry I wasn’t more specific.

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NostalgicGal January 31, 2017 at 11:04 am

I still say you’re a gamer. (from having learned to play pinochle at age six, in the 1960’s) on up to the ‘funny dice’ era (late 70’s onward)… welcome fellow “gamer”.

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Ruby January 27, 2017 at 7:11 pm

I was involved in a similar situation a while back. A friend (Friend A) was throwing a party, and because she lives in a small apartment she couldn’t invite very many people. I wasn’t invited, which was fine because she and I aren’t very close.

However, a few days before the party, Friend A, another friend (Friend B), and I were talking, and Friend B kept bringing up the party. Now, I understand I’m not going to be invited to everything, and I’m fine with other people casually mentioning a party I’m not invited to in front of me. But Friend B would not stop talking about it, to the point where it felt like I was purposely being excluded. She kept talking about how excited she was, what she was going to wear, and how much fun it was going to be. (She knew I wasn’t invited, so it wasn’t just a slip-up.) Friend A, who was now in a very awkward position, asked me if I’d like to come, but it was clear that she’d only invited me because she was worried I’d feel left out otherwise.

The party had been organized via a Facebook event, and Friend A posted on the page politely asking people to stop talking about the party in front of people who weren’t invited, because she felt bad about not being able to invite as many people as she’d like to, and didn’t want people’s feelings to get hurt.

Personally, I think that any mature adult should know that they’re not going to be invited to everything, and that’s okay. But at the same time, it’s not okay to rub it in when someone’s not invited, which it sounds like might have been happening here.

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NostalgicGal January 31, 2017 at 11:09 am

I think it’s nice that Friend A is willing to go to bat to help shut down those like Friend B. That WAS uncalled for.

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ALM January 28, 2017 at 1:23 pm

I usually agree with admin, but I think she is way off on this. This is fine advice for when unanticipated guests show up at your door and you had no idea they were coming. This is not the situation here: the hostess clearly knew this was likely to happen before it happened. She even knew who the likely offenders were. As boorish as these uninvited guests were, it doesn’t sound as if their actions were malicious. To knowingly plan to treat them as second class guests to ‘teach them a lesson’ (as opposed to making the best of the situation) when one has ample time to save face for everyone by contacting them before the faux pas occurs does not seem in the spirit of good etiquette. It’s both passive aggressive and serves to make both the uninvited guests AND the invited guests uncomfortable. Furthermore, because gamers as a general population don’t tend to be the most socially aware people, this tactic is likely futile (as the OP has since stated). I’d say contact the offenders politely but directly. They are clearly too obtuse to get it any other way.

In regards to talking about parties in front of people who are not invited, this has happened to me a lot over the years. I am an adult, and one particularly horrible experience (finding out at the Surprise Bridal Shower that no, all the other co-workers actually WERE invited to the wedding and now I had to sit here for hours until my ride left), I’m pretty immune to it, but I do notice it, it gets old, and at times it becomes hard not to take personally. In my current job, we have a group of 4-10 people who cycle in and out of the lunch area at varying times in the early afternoon, that changes as people move in and out of jobs. One summer, two of the group were getting married (not to each other), a male and a female. and for months before and weeks after each wedding, the events were discussed frequently at the lunch table. And I was quite aware that I was the only person not going to either wedding, because I was the only one in the group not invited to either wedding. I did not take a survey, but it was clear that most of my coworkers, if not all, were attending both weddings, with significant others. I was excluded and everyone talked about in front of me, at length, before and after. No one asked me if I was going, if I was invited, or why I hadn’t been there, so I don’t know if social media has eliminated ‘talking about events in front of the uninvited’ from the etiquette lexicon, or if I were even more peripheral than I imagined, but I certainly at no point fished for an invite or invited myself. I’m a big girl and I am not going to cry into my cocoa because I am left out, but after a while I could do without a daily reminder that I was less of a friend than everyone else.

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THE OP February 1, 2017 at 12:40 pm

The problem is that 8 uninvited women were informed and were excited about the prospect at that lunch but how could I know exactly how many would show up? 2? 6? 0? 8? How could I possibly plan a sit down brunch that included an unknown amount of additional guests?

By the way everyone keeps talking about gamers and geek gamers. I should mention this is not “geek gaming” but social/card type gaming. Think spaids, canasta, Bunco.

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Angela January 28, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Two etiquette errors: You don’t talk about an event in front of others unless you know they are invited and you don’t show up to events to which you have not been invited. I would say that I’m surprised that there are people who don’t know this, but I work in academia and there are a fair number of people who don’t always pick up on social cues there (yes I know those people are all over, but academia welcomes them for the most part).

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at work February 2, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Hear, hear! One of my closest friends invited me to have lunch with her and her daughter-in-law at DIL’s home. Found out when I got there that they expected me to help them assemble shower invitations and wedding centerpieces for the wedding of a mutual friend, who had not invited my husband and me to her wedding. I couldn’t believe it, because I thought surely they had noticed my discomfort whenever they talked about the wedding events in front of me — which was often. It felt like high school all over again. Yeah, I know I’m not popular. Must they remind me of it? BTW the bride-to-be is in academia but knows better. My friend, no.

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Cat January 28, 2017 at 6:53 pm

I cannot imagine deciding to attend a party about which I have heard, but to which I have received no invitation. In my darker moments, I would have been tempted to bill those who “invited” those I did not invite-rather like wedding guests who decide to bring along other uninvited guests and declare, “Well, I’ll pay for their meals.” Few people would want to pay for their guests at your party.
If people would simply understand that, if the host/hostess did not invite you, you are not meant to attend, this problem would disappear.

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VA Lady January 29, 2017 at 8:03 am

OP, I have a question for you. When does the gaming group meet next? Do you think that members of the gaming group who were rude to your other guests will say something to you, questioning why you would invite outsiders to your gaming group brunch?

Is it possible that the blabbers gave the uninvited guests the idea that your brunch was actually a gaming group function?

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sunnydi84 January 31, 2017 at 10:14 pm

I can not imagine the nerve to show up at an event that you were invited to 3rd hand! And, not even confirming with the hostess if you need to bring something (ie: potluck, craft supplies, drinks, etc). It could have been presented to these women as an open house, but that is still no excuse for not confirming with the hostess. And, I don’t know if your invitations stated open house or not, but it doesn’t sound like it. So, the invitees are at fault there for extending an invitation to your party. The univiteds are at fault for not confirming with YOU, the hostess, that it is OK to come.
There is no polite way to tell this group that you host an event for ‘women who inspire you’ but you aren’t inviting some of them. That would be rude. IMO.
I personally would have just planned for my original group. Yes, your best friend told you that this was discussed at the lunch. But, YOU haven’t heard from any one of these ladies to confirm if they are coming. Therefore, YOU personally don’t know. So what if it comes out later your best friend knew about this conversation and told you? THEY didn’t tell you they were coming. You don’t know to plan for 1 extra or 10 extra! They all may have said that day ‘sounds fun I will be there’ and then find out they have other plans, get sick, etc. There is no way to know. And, when the invitees show up with the uninviteds you can look surprised and ask what is going on. I think the invitees and the uninviteds are equally at fault and need to know that you don’t just show up unannounced to an event you aren’t invited to! And, the way they treated your INVITED guests doesn’t seem very nice.
I think next year I would just invite best friend and other women not associated with this group. They don’t sound very inspiring to me. If they are being ‘cliquey’ than why would you even want them there?

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Wendy February 1, 2017 at 5:55 am

There is one thing that bothers me about hastily setting up dinning as the op did and admin suggests and not confronting them at the door or if you know in advance by phone. And that is they simply will
Think bad of the host. As the op stated they didn’t seem to notice I would think people clueless or entitled enough to turn up to a party they were not invited to would simply put this down to ‘oh wow OP is a terrible host very bad organisation she didn’t have enough seating/food/placecards for everyone’ having said that it’s always easier to say you’ll confront them either at the time or in advance, maybe the answer is a mix ‘ oh so sorry but this was invite only, if you like you can still come in but I’m afraid you won’t be seated as comfortable as I would like’ and then so others can here ‘so and so I really wish you would have asked me first how many did you invite/can I expect I don’t want to embarrass anyone further’ at least this puts the shame/embarrassment on the ones in the wrong and you come off as a good host put into a bad situation.

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