Author Topic: On party start times and "being home to visitors"  (Read 2164 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Amaya

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 114
On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« on: August 19, 2013, 09:14:12 AM »
On Saturday, my mom hosted my grandpa's 75th birthday party. It was a small, informal lunch party with just the immediate family and a few guests. One of the invitees was my mom's cousin Q, who is, unfortunately, presumptuous and pushy at best and an offensive boor at worst.

The last two times Q visited, she 1) arrived at the house when no one was there and sat in our driveway and waited for us to come home; and 2) invited herself to my college graduation while strongly hinting to another distant relative that she should hold her wedding on a different weekend than she originally wanted so that Q could attend both events. (I could fill dozens of posts with Q's behavior, but you get the idea...)

My mom set the start time for noon, figuring that would be enough time for the guests to get settled and mingle before she served the food at 1 pm. At 10 am, she and I were still prepping for the party. We hadn't finished cleaning, we'd just barely started warming the dishes we'd prepped the night before, and we certainly didn't look ready to party. Naturally, my grandpa (who lives downstairs from my mom) gets a phone call from Q saying she's on her way and she'll be there in a few minutes!

I think my jaw hit the floor. Not only was she showing up two hours early with a couple minutes' notice, she didn't even have the decency to call my mom directly! I asked my mom to call her and say something like "I'm looking forward to seeing you, but now isn't the best time. We'll see you at 12." But she refused, saying that would be rude and "it's family, what can you do?" I hastily tried to explain that there's a difference between being "at home" and "at home to visitors" and she wouldn't be rude in the slightest for turning away a party guest who was 2 hours early, but she wouldn't budge. By that time, Q was literally ringing the doorbell!

At that point, I was seeing red, but I eventually figured "not my house, not my party, not my rules" so I just kept doing what I needed to do. By the time I'd showered and tidied up the room we'd designated as the "coatroom," it was 10:45, and my grandpa had been entertaining Q singlehandedly for about 45 minutes while my mom and I scrambled. Aside from this incident, the party went well and everyone had a great time, but Q's early arrival really put a sour note in my day.

So, questions:
1. Was my solution of calling Q and saying "not right now, see you at 12" rude in any way? I didn't think so at the time, but my mom refused to budge so vehemently that now I'm not sure.
2. Is the "at home" vs. "at home to visitors" distinction still a valid thing? Personally, I felt pretty offended at the idea of being essentially "held hostage" by party guests who don't respect the start time, and the "it's faaaaamily" thing has never held water with me. But am I off base here?

Hmmmmm

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6252
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2013, 09:22:22 AM »
If grandpa lives downstairs and she called him to say she was on her way, why was she upstairs at your mothers? And why is the fact your grandpa was entertaining his guest for 45 min alone a problem?

In my opinion it is fine to tell someone that they can't arrive early or stay later than the inivitation stated, family or not. But it obviously bothers you more than your mom.

Venus193

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 15807
  • Backstage passes are wonderful things!
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2013, 09:26:41 AM »
I don't think anyone is obliged to see anyone despite being at home.  This is about boundaries and often it is even more important to enforce these boundaries with relatives. 

Q is a relative, but I think the distinction of "family" should be earned.

Someone needs to take her aside in a situation unconnected to a social event and let her know that her early arrival is disruptive as well as invasive.

Amaya

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 114
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2013, 09:31:41 AM »
Oops, sorry if that wasn't clear.

Q is the kind of relative that everyone finds a bit overbearing; you can barely get a word in edgewise, and even when you do pipe up into the conversation, she looks more put out that she's been interrupted than interested in your contribution. Add in her often offensive views of other races and cultures and you've got quite the interesting mix. 45 minutes alone with her is quite a long time for someone like my grandpa who's quiet and reserved; it's essentially a 45-minute lecture.

The way my family treats Q is pretty perplexing to me. In the week or so before one of her visits, we all joke about dreading it. Yet when she gets here, everyone bends over backwards for her to avoid causing any perceived slight. If it were up to me, I'd be setting firmer boundaries, but I defer to my parents when we're entertaining at their house.

Zizi-K

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 620
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2013, 10:25:09 AM »
If I had a relative that was in the habit of arriving far too early for an event, I wouldn't necessarily turn them away, but I also wouldn't entertain them. I would be busy getting ready for the party up until the start time, and that person would have a very boring time sitting by themselves until we were officially ready for guests. It sounds like you did just that - you didn't stop what you were doing upon her arrival. However, you certainly can't control your grandfather's reactions, so if he wants to sit with her, there's not much you can do. Alternatively, you could say, "Oh, thank goodness you're early Aunt Q, we're terribly behind and we wondered if you could peel this 10 pound bag of potatoes! It would be such a help!"

Thipu1

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6598
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 10:39:56 AM »
If I had a relative that was in the habit of arriving far too early for an event, I wouldn't necessarily turn them away, but I also wouldn't entertain them. I would be busy getting ready for the party up until the start time, and that person would have a very boring time sitting by themselves until we were officially ready for guests. It sounds like you did just that - you didn't stop what you were doing upon her arrival. However, you certainly can't control your grandfather's reactions, so if he wants to sit with her, there's not much you can do. Alternatively, you could say, "Oh, thank goodness you're early Aunt Q, we're terribly behind and we wondered if you could peel this 10 pound bag of potatoes! It would be such a help!"

Amen!

If a close family member shows up two hours early for a party s/he'd better be prepared to tie on an apron and help get the place ready.  If Aunt Q is as described, she won't show up early more than once or twice. 

Venus193

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 15807
  • Backstage passes are wonderful things!
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2013, 01:44:24 PM »
Agree completely.  Of course, you may create the opposite problem, which is that she will show up an hour late to "make an entrance."

lowspark

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3663
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 03:09:06 PM »
So, questions:
1. Was my solution of calling Q and saying "not right now, see you at 12" rude in any way? I didn't think so at the time, but my mom refused to budge so vehemently that now I'm not sure.
2. Is the "at home" vs. "at home to visitors" distinction still a valid thing? Personally, I felt pretty offended at the idea of being essentially "held hostage" by party guests who don't respect the start time, and the "it's faaaaamily" thing has never held water with me. But am I off base here?

1. Well, I'm not sure if that would be rude or not but I wouldn't do it. I think it was up to grandpa to say, "sorry, party doesn't start till noon so now's not a good time." and I would have no trouble saying that if she had called me directly. But to go out of my way to call her back at that point, I just wouldn't be comfortable doing that.

2. I don't think you're off base. If she came early and grandpa hadn't entertained her, it would be up to you and your mom to figure out how to handle it. And as I see it, your two options are to either ask her to help or let her cool her heels on her own in another room. I would not drop everything and sit with her.

I posted recently about a somewhat similar situation where a couple of friends of mine were giving an engagement party and one of the GOH's friends arrived about 30 minutes early. We were still not dressed and busily running around doing all the last minute preparations so I just said a quick "hello" and went on about my business. This guest went off and entertained herself with her phone until the other guests started arriving. There wasn't really much else we could do because we were crazy busy getting ready and really had no choice but to finish up.

Unless there's communication in advance and arrangements are made with the host, guests who arrive more than about 5 minutes early for a party are, in my opinion, rude. And although it's normally rude to ignore guests, I don't see it that way in this case because abandoning preparations to give them attention would necessitate being rude to all your other guests because you wouldn't be ready when they arrived.

JoieGirl7

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7292
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 03:53:32 PM »
If Q is a close enough family member to show up that early before the party just to hang out then she is close enough to be put to work.  Hand her a toilet brush and tell her to have at it!

bopper

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12208
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2013, 11:39:20 AM »
"That's great Grandpa. It's no problem if you don't mind entertaining her while we finish preparing for the party.  If not, let her know she should come closer to 12:00.

MrTango

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2254
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2013, 01:02:42 PM »
1) I don't think calling her back would have been rude at all.

2) I think there's still a big difference between being home and being "at home" when it comes to visitors.  Just because I'm in my home doesn't create any obligation to accept visitors.

blarg314

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8428
Re: On party start times and "being home to visitors"
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2013, 09:17:16 PM »

Your relative is definitely rude, and your grandfather would certainly be justified in saying that he wasn't ready yet.

*But*

Unfortunately, this isn't your battle to fight. If you *you* are hosting, or being expected to entertain her while getting ready for a party you can say no. But if other people are hosting and entertaining, and refuse to stand up to her, there's not much you can do about it - fighting against a whole family dynamic when you don't have the power to do anything about it rarely works.

If you're asked to entertain her, though, you can certainly  say for yourself "Oh, sorry, I still need to clean the bathroom/take a shower/go out to get napkins" and put her off.

In general, it can take some effort to train someone of this habit. With some people, saying "Oh, sorry - we're not ready for guests yet. Please don't come until X" will work.
Others need a direct statement  - "Aunt, we're not ready to handle guests until the start of the party. Please don't come early." For others, though, that refuse to listen, insist "But I'm family", or otherwise try to force their way in....

You can simply refuse to take their phone call or answer the door, but the latter in particular can be very awkward, and works best if you can legitimately claim "Oh, I wasn't dressed yet" or "I was in the shower".  You can, if you want, let them in but either put them to work at something unpleasant, or completely ignore them as you do your thing.

In extreme cases, you can get the party ready in advance, and leave for an hour or two before to do 'last minute errands' like sitting in a coffee shop. It's drastic, but sitting/standing in your driveway for an hour or two can can get the point across.

If that doesn't work, then dropping them from the guest list is appropriate.