Author Topic: Unwanted Gathering?  (Read 3678 times)

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MrTango

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Unwanted Gathering?
« on: December 31, 2012, 11:47:04 AM »
The unwanted guest thread reminded me of something I'm dealing with, and I'm curious what others think:

What responsibility does a person have if they receive an invite to a party at which they are to be the guest of honor?  For example, someone wants to throw me a birthday party and I really don't want to have one?

What about a "surprise" party*?  If someone ambushes me with a surpise party, would it be rude to walk out?

*I can't imagine a scenario in which someone would try to get me to a surprise party without involving LadyTango in the planning.  LadyTango knows that I don't want a party, and I fully trust that she would let the planners know that ambushing me with a party is a very bad idea.

mrkitty

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2012, 12:39:15 PM »
Hmmm. These are really good questions.

On the first issue, I suppose if you have been invited to *any* party, etiquette allows you to either accept or decline the invitation. I would imagine it applies even to parties that are planned specifically to celebrate you, the guest of honor. I suppose the decline could be phrased as "thank you so much for your kind offer, but I must decline. I'm afraid I'm too uncomfortable to be the center of the festivities." The reason I say that is because if you offer a decline based on a theoretical scheduling conflict, then the party host could come back and offer to re-schedule for another time. So in this case, I think the most polite thing to do is be honest about your wish to not have that party thrown for you. A lot of people are really uncomfortable with the idea of being "the center of attention", and for them, rather than experiencing pleasure, they wind up suffering anxiety or upset - certainly things that a kind host would never seek to bestow on their guests, even unintentionally.

In the case of a surprise party, I guess it would be rude to show dismay or to turn around and abruptly leave. I don't know the proper etiquette, but I honestly think the best thing to do would be to "go along with it" and stay long enough to mingle (briefly)with the guests, accept their birthday wishes (or whatever the purpose of the party is) and stay just long enough for a toast? And then once the party is in 'full swing' and once the main activities are finished, say your thanks and goodbyes and then you're free to leave? I think that's what I would try to do, no matter how uncomfortable. I don't think even the guest of honor is required to stay for the entire length of the event - I think a half hour to an hour max is all that is required.

But that's just my opinion and guesses. I would be interested in what others have to say myself.

**edited by mrkitty for syntax**
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 12:46:26 PM by mrkitty »
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ilrag

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2012, 12:44:45 PM »
Well as a birthday/surprise hater (my own, other people can do what ever they want for their birthday) I'd walk out on a surprise party in a heartbeat.

All of my friends know how I feel, and I assume yours do as well, OP. In the case that they chose to ignore your feelings they'd be the rude ones.

mrkitty

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2012, 12:57:16 PM »
Well as a birthday/surprise hater (my own, other people can do what ever they want for their birthday) I'd walk out on a surprise party in a heartbeat.

All of my friends know how I feel, and I assume yours do as well, OP. In the case that they chose to ignore your feelings they'd be the rude ones.

I agree with you that it would be rude to inflict a surprise party on someone if the host knows better...but on the same token, wouldn't walking out on it be retaliatory rudeness?
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ilrag

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2012, 12:59:46 PM »
No, leaving a situation that makes you uncomfortable isn't rude.


mrkitty

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2012, 01:10:27 PM »
I don't know. I think if someone liked you enough to go through the trouble and expense to host an event in your honor, and gathered people together who liked you enough to show up, I think it would be pretty rude and ungracious to turn around and walk out.

If someone did that to me, I would probably re-evaluate that friendship. Then again, if someone knew you well enough to throw you that party in the first place,  they'd also know how much you hated the idea, so hosting that event would be pretty stupid or, in some cases, cruel.

Tough one. (Just for the record, I fall into the category of no surprises parties ever, please). I guess it's kind of a moot point, really. I can't imagine a scenario in which I would throw a party like that for anyone, especially if I knew they objected strenuously to the idea. I can't imagine throwing a surprise party for anyone, period. Even people who might like one - simply because I've been to one and it's a real pain in the hind end to pull off logistically.

I hate all surprises, myself. But still, from an etiquette standpoint, I still have to throw my vote into the "it's still not polite to run screaming from the event, no matter how justified you feel" hat.  :-\
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Hmmmmm

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2012, 01:11:36 PM »
To me, a party in your honor  is a gift.  If you are aware of the intention of the gift, then you can try to head off receiving it.  if it is a suprise gift, then you accept graciously and once it is received you are welcome to do as you see fit.  In the case of a suprise party, you stay the minimum and then plead an early morning or other excuse. 

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2013, 01:05:18 AM »
In Scenario #1, I think you'd be fine in politely declining the invitation (with a warm "thank you for thinking of me" to the host).

In Scenario #2, if the organiser(s) and guests knew full well that you hated surprise parties, but threw you one anyway, I actually think it would be ok to walk out. But if they didn't know, I'd stay for a short time at least.

The toughest situation would be if the organiser(s) knew I hated surprise parties, but the guests didn't know, and showed up with good intentions. In that case, I'd stay for a short while (because I wouldn't want to seem rude to my guests, and involve them in my issues with the organiser(s).) But afterwards I'd be having stern words with the organiser(s) in private.

JoyinVirginia

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2013, 02:10:02 AM »
If the surprise party had cake, I would insist we cut the cake immediately, preferably before anyone can start singing happy birthday, then take off with a large piece of cake.
Never let good cake go to waste. Most everyone there wants cake too I would speculate!

QueenofAllThings

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2013, 10:12:05 AM »
I'm with you, Mr. Tango.  Don't anyone surprise me.  Unfortunately, if you demur, some folk think you don't know your own mind.  They feel that you really, really want a party but don't want to come out and say so.

I think your best weapon is LadyTango. In the first scenario, when someone offers to throw you a party, you graciously decline - over and over.  Rinse and repeat. Have LadyTango back you up. In the second scenario, if you catch wind of a surprise, again, recruit LadyTango to put an end to it. 

I do think if you walk into a room and are genuinely surprised, you ought to try to do your best to be gracious, at least for a while.  You can always claim a previous engagement/reservation/appointment.

delabela

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2013, 12:29:17 PM »
It's completely fine to decline the offer of a party - as many times as necessary.  I agree with the previous posters that in the event of a surprise, a brief gracious appearance is necessary.

gen xer

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2013, 12:36:09 PM »
I'm with you, Mr. Tango.  Don't anyone surprise me.  Unfortunately, if you demur, some folk think you don't know your own mind.  They feel that you really, really want a party but don't want to come out and say so.

I think your best weapon is LadyTango. In the first scenario, when someone offers to throw you a party, you graciously decline - over and over.  Rinse and repeat. Have LadyTango back you up. In the second scenario, if you catch wind of a surprise, again, recruit LadyTango to put an end to it. 

I do think if you walk into a room and are genuinely surprised, you ought to try to do your best to be gracious, at least for a while.  You can always claim a previous engagement/reservation/appointment.

This....party throwing types often think that the "hate surprise party" types just say "don't throw me one" to avoid looking overeager.  While I wouldn't throw one to someone who told me not to - since I would not want to take the chance that they wouldn't like it and I don't want to always be trying to read between the lines ( do they? don't they?  should I, shouldn't I? ) - I think it would be extremely rude to walk out on one that was thrown.   Unless you have a genuine social phobia - being "uncomfortable" is no excuse for petulant and rude behaviour.

Winterlight

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2013, 03:17:40 PM »
In Scenario #1, I think you'd be fine in politely declining the invitation (with a warm "thank you for thinking of me" to the host).

In Scenario #2, if the organiser(s) and guests knew full well that you hated surprise parties, but threw you one anyway, I actually think it would be ok to walk out. But if they didn't know, I'd stay for a short time at least.

The toughest situation would be if the organiser(s) knew I hated surprise parties, but the guests didn't know, and showed up with good intentions. In that case, I'd stay for a short while (because I wouldn't want to seem rude to my guests, and involve them in my issues with the organiser(s).) But afterwards I'd be having stern words with the organiser(s) in private.

This. I'd hate having an actual surprise party- I don't want people showing up when I'm in my sweats and no makeup!
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MrTango

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2013, 05:38:43 PM »
Thanks, everyone.

Part of my problem was I was wondering if I was out of line for how strongly I feel about not having a party this year.  I suppose that's just part of my anxiety disorder: always second-guessing everything, even my own feelings.

All of my close friends know my feelings on surprise parties, but there are a few (newer) friends who might try to throw one for me without realizing the issues it would cause.

Mr NiceGuy

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Re: Unwanted Gathering?
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2013, 02:48:18 PM »
I think the two scenarios are totally different.

In the first, you can simply express your gratitude to this person thinking of you, let them truly know how much it means to you, while explaining that large gatherings with you at the center of attention just aren't something that makes you comfortable along with a polite 'no thank you' and - depending on how you feel about the situation - an invite back for something like a one on one lunch to celebrate the occasion (though I would consider that part totally optional based on your relationship to this person and other factors).

The second scenario.....eesh.  I just don't like the idea of forcing social interactions on others.  I'm a social butterfly but even I have days when I don't want to do anything but go home and relax.  If, on one of those nights, I suddenly had it thrust on me that I now had to be the toast of this event with no prior warning...?  I think for that reason surprise parties tend to be in poor taste, to the extent that any time I'm informed of one I make it a point to decline (though I keep my explanation for doing so to myself). 

If one were thrust upon me, and I truly didn't want it, I'd just politely explain to everyone that I so much appreciate them being there, but that I haven't been feeling well and then I'd excuse myself with the planner.  I'd then explain to them personally that while I appreciate the gesture I don't appreciate having a social situation thrown at me without my knowledge and that I'd appreciate them gracefully wrapping it up.  It puts them in an awkward situation, but less so than the one they placed on you.  I'd take the little white lie approach so as to not embarrass them in front of the group - after all, it was a 'good-natured faux pas', which I tend to be more forgiving and gentle with.  ...At least the first time.  :)

« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 02:57:25 PM by Mr NiceGuy »