Last weekend my boyfriend held a really low-key Halloween party at his house. It was the first time most of the small group invited were going to be there, so my boyfriend “Bob” spent a long time cleaning and making sure everything was presentable. He even made snacks in the form of amazing swedish meatballs for the group. Only about six people were expected to come over (so a total of 8 with myself and Bob counted), and at the last minute two of them texted me that they weren’t coming. Bob and I don’t live together, and they never texted him, the host that they weren’t going to make it.
But when the rest of the group got there, one of our “friends,” we’ll call him Steve, was very clearly disappointed there wasn’t going to be a bigger crowd. He had worn a costume he was particularly proud of and I guess wanted to show it off. But Steve had been made well aware that this was going to be a low-key get-together with some friends so I’m not quite sure why this came as such a surprise to him. At one point, pretty early on in the night, he turned to Bob and me and said, “No offense, but we should call more people.” Yes, he actually suggested that Bob invite more people to his home, because Steve wasn’t happy with the group. He also suggested that we move the party to a bar instead. He was only satisfied once he got confirmation from one of the guys he had come with that they could go out the following night to a bar so Steve could show off his costume. The guy he asked to go with him seemed actually to be embarrassed by Steve’s behavior and reluctantly and quietly said yes to going out the following night. Sick of his griping and embarrassing other guests, I turned to Steve and calmly told him that if he didn’t like it here, he was more than free to go to a bar or head out. That shut him up for a little bit.
Also, Steve at one point, got up and said, “Before we drink more,” (they had brought to Bob’s copious amounts of alcohol,) “we want to get something to eat. Where can we go?” Bob let him know about the meatballs cooling in the kitchen, but Steve responded with, “Well I can’t fill up on just meatballs. So we’re going out.”
Oh Steve, your mother would be so proud of your manners. 1101-10
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It seems like the host lost control of his own party. A low key affair the weekend prior is not how a Halloween party is normally billed. And guests cancelling, bringing copious amounts of alcohol and sending texts to OP to cancel instead of to the host does not bode well. So, Steve was rude but the party was in trouble long before he showed up. Next time, the host needs to manage the guests, the food and the activities for himself. Deflect Steve with humor, mingle a bit more, serve guests refreshment on arrival and keep it coming throughout the night, shut down the boozers by saying “I’ve got this. Drinks are over here.” and generally being in charge. A little leadership, humor, organization and better provisioning for food and activities will keep the party pleasant for all. Oh and don’t call out a guest when you are also a guest, OP. The host should do that if it becomes necessary and it should not take the form of “you are welcome to leave” for obnoxious but not unforgivable conduct. If you are the co-hostess then you should also be careful of the guests’ comfort by assisting with food, activities, and general management. You needn’t include obnoxious guests at your future gatherings. Problem solved.
Regarding being at a party with inadequate food as a guest – there’s a way to handle it –
“Oh, I’m sorry, I have been running around all day and didn’t get a chance to eat. I don’t want to eat you out of house and home – would it be a huge bother if I ran out and got something really quick?”
And then this can start a discussion about whether to order in, etc. Or, as a guest, you can just decide to leave a bit earlier. There’s plenty of times where a party goes longer than planned and a group decides to order takeout, etc. – but this should be a mutual decision between the host and the guests, and moreover you do NOT start by insulting the host’s food!
It would be a safe bet that Steve’s mother would think nothing of her son’s rude childlike behavior for the simple reason that she quite possibly had set a fine example herself. Y’know, a bit like let’s say, obesity that often “runs in the family” *… Poor eating habits passing on to the next generation, and the next, and the next. 🙁
*Please note that it is different from being “hereditary”.
agreed Aje! we don’t know how big the meatballs were either, they could have been plenty of food. and LW only said he made meatballs, maybe food he didn’t make wasn’t mentioned (crackers, chips, salsa, etc.)
we also don’t know what time the party started, I certainly wouldn’t expect an elaborate spread of food if the party started say at 9 or later
and to the people who think it’s odd to have a costume party with only 8 people, perhaps that’s the amount of people his apartment could accommodate or the amount of people he could afford to feed, perhaps he doesn’t care for large groups?
I’m having a costume party this weekend, there’s 9 people coming and as it doesn’t begin until later in the evening I’m providing drinks and 2 varieties of chips and salsa. think it will be a terrible party? Everyone’s opinion of a “good” party is different.
Man…what kind of person would act like this? I’ve gone to plenty of horrible parties, and I don’t recall anyone acting so obnoxiously.
One particularly terrible party I was at was held by a crazy college roommate who decided to throw a housewarming party (seriously?) at our college apartment. I stayed out of it telling her that she could do what she wanted, but I was not into it. She was a bit delusional, so she went to work making fancy hand-lettered invitations. Feeling bad for her for working so hard, I offered to address some of them…they were not up to her exacting standards and ended up in the trash, but at least I tried to help her. She had me convinced she was planning this amazing event. Little did I know.
So, the day of the party was a ninety-degree day, and she refused to turn the air conditioning on before people came (?) so it was sweltering, and she served warm juice and a cheap sheet cake. That was it. No hors d’oevres or snacks of any kind, just a sickly sweet sheet cake and juice. She didn’t even bother to decorate. So strange. She invited every single person she knew, and I have to hand it to them, not one person complained. I can only assume they were used to her idiocy.
I will hand it to her, she did pick some nice friends. I would have stayed a polite amount of time and then RUN.
Steve is a jerk, no doubt.
But when there is alcohol involved it’s wise to have plenty of munchies around to keep their tummies full. At least Steve was right that he needed to eat while drinking!
Eh.. Steve certainly wasn’t very polite, but I’m guessing his behavior wasn’t a big surprise to anyone there.
Definitely in the “let it go” category, imho.
@LJ: I agree that it gets harder and harder to throw a good party! I feel like I have to invite at least twice as many people as I hope to have show up, only to have half of them cancel or just plain no show at the last minute. I’ve had friends give me the same lame explanations about how they just wanted to relax rather than cram the weekend full of activities. Fine, but just tell me “Sorry that I won’t be able to make it.” Honesty is not always the best policy in declining invitations! The other pitfall is what a friend described it as the “BBO” syndrome–the bigger, better offer: guests often fail to RSVP because they want to wait to see what all their options are, holding out hope something more awesome is going to come along.
And for the OP, Steve was definitely a rude guest. Sounds like an awkward situation with guests and hosts having very different ideas of what the party would be like. I am a bit confused about having a party at dinner time and (just) serving meatballs, but it is up to the guests to be gracious and again, it’s about expectations (dinner party vs. snacks).
Hosting is a fine art. Being the kind of guest that the host would invite back again is also an acquired skill. In this case, both host and guest made mistakes. The host may not have communicated the nature of the party well enough to the guests. Plus, the host planned to underfeed his guests by providing only one type of food (saying it was a “low key party” doesn’t excuse it). On the other hand, the guest vocalized his displeasure when reality didn’t match his expectations. Instead of keeping his thoughts to himself, he foolishly and immaturely let the host know of his disappointment. Hopefully, this will be a good learning experience for both men.
Well, having only meatballs could be considered a sufficient party snack, provided you aren’t holding the party at dinnertime. When providing food for a party, you need to provide food appropriate for the time of day. My husband and I have held low key get togethers like the one the OP and her boyfriend had at dinnertime, ten people or less, and we usually make a large pasta dish and provide additional munchies like a veggie tray and chips. The guests serve themselves, buffet style. I can see how that would be a mistake on Bob’s part if he held the party at dinnertime and only provided meatballs, and didn’t let his guests know they needed to eat dinner before showing up.
Yes, if you’re going to have alcohol you’re going to want more food, but OP didn’t say they were planning on having alcohol at the party, only that Steve brought it. We don’t know if he was asked to bring it or not. Bob may have been planning a dry party and thus didn’t need additional food for alcohol filled bellies.
Anyway, a gracious guest knows not to tell the host that his food and company are inadequate. If Steve was truely unhappy, he could have made an excuse and left instead of inflicting his poor manners on others. Lesson learned, OP. Steve isn’t really your friend.
Steve sounds like a real winner–not! If a small Halloween party is what you wanted then you should not let a single guest dictate the “flow” of the party. I think meatballs are perfectly fine to serve, and if your guests don’t like that then they are free to leave. It’s okay to have any kind of opinion that you want but he could have been a much better guest.
I have found that people are a lot more rude these days–especially kids, although you would expect it more from kids. I have toned down my entertaining significantly in the last few years because of it. And I used to love, love, love entertaining. My DH and I used to have an annual memorial day picnic and usually would have no less than 40 people at our house. But, we found that over time–the only time we would see some of those friends was at our annual picnic. They would never get in touch with us to ask us to do anything–yet we would host a dinner party at the holidays, the memorial day picnic and occasionally an additional, smaller party for friends that have kids. After about 8 years it got very disheartening. I found that the more you do it the more people expect when you do it. And the less gracious some of them are.
Wow, that post made me a little bit depressed. My heart does go out to the OP and her friend that really just wanted a low-key party. I think the next time a guest acts up like this I would probably have to take my leave–talk about awkward and uncomfortable 🙁
“texting OP rather than her boyfriend still got the message through – did they have his number? Maybe they thought he’d be too busy to reply so texted OP? Perhaps they’re OP’s friends and don’t really know Bob very well?”
OP will have to come back and answer this, but my guess is, the OP is female, and the two guests were female friends of hers that were invited because of their association with OP, not Bob.
Dollars to donuts the evening was billed as an intimate get together where a small group of people would get drunk and Steve would have minimal competition for the ladies’ attention. When said ladies cancelled, Steve is now facing an evening with a group of guys and one of their girlfriends, and he appears to be the only one interested in drinking and the only one who dressed up.
Yeah, the polite thing to do is suck it up and enjoy your friends’ company, or fake a headache and leave.
I’m a big, big fan of Halloween. The current incarnation of our annual Halloween party is costume-less, because we hold it outside and it’s freakin’ cold! Usually people wear funny t-shirts or crazy hats and call it a day on the costume. We’ve also done incarnations of this party that are low-key and small; it all depends on what we feel like throwing. Sometimes an easy-going just-close-friends party is perfect. The key is to make sure your guests understand what they are getting into.
One wonders what happened after Steve said “Well, I can’t fill up on meatballs. So we’re going out.” Did he/they go out?
Re-think this friendship. Has Steve been an obnoxious jerk before? If he has, you have no one else to blame but yourself for inviting him. If it was a one-off time, perhaps he wanted to show off his costume.
I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I once had a friend inform me that she and her family had eaten dinner before coming to our house for a New Year’s Eve party. When I asked why (we had a table that was almost literally groaning with food), her reply was “I didn’t want my kids filling up on junk food.” The “junk food” we had on offer, which was the same fare we had offered at previous, similar parties, consisted of:
Veggies and dip
Shrimp and cocktail sauce
Various hot appetizers
What really killed me was that she’d taken her family to Wendy’s for dinner – not exactly known for their health food.
I once attended a small party like this, and the only thing being served was a dish made of undiluted tomato soup, undiluted chicken noodle soup, some kind of spaghetti and who knows what else baked casserole. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had in my life, but you know what? I sat at the table and I ate it and I said thank you. Because that is what you do! I know some small children who know not to complain about the food or the guest list. Honestly, it’s one goldurn night out of your life.
Steve was horribly rude.
I love swedish meatballs.
Swedish meatballs only is not appropriate party food , they are so rich and heavy. It would be like serving just hamburger patties no buns.
Calling it a Halloween Party , may have lead to some confusion. Halloween and costumes reasonable go together. It may have been clearer if your BF described what you would be doing a little. Game night , card party , hang out , dinner party , movies. It’s not wrong or lame but it may have been a little confusing. Especially(this is just hypothetical) if a normal Friday night for this group is hanging out with 6 or 10 people having a few drinks having pizza ; Calling almost the same gathering with meatballs a Halloween party might perplex people.
When you say “low key get together” and it’s a small group friends I don’t think its rude for a person to say “hey should we get a pizza/go out for a bite to eat?” . What they can’t do is say ” You have xxxx , that’s not good enough we need YYYY.” .
“Can we go to the bar.” depends again on the norms for this group if its normal to hang out for a bit at someones home then for someone to suggest “movies , bar , putput” and that’s ok it would be more normal to still make the suggestion this time. It’s generally very very rude though.
It’s rather interesting that a few posters are on “Steve’s Team” when it comes to requirements that need to be met before there is anything worthy of being called a party. Apparently, standardized quotas have to be met regarding the number of guests, amount of food and drink, and most likely decibel levels… *
Let’s hope that Steve was the only disappointed guest, and the others understood clearly the nature of the get together they were invited to.
*It sort of puts in perspective a young woman’s moaning on another website: Her assumption being about the “rules” for a first vacation with a BF. It was to be of a romantic nature, with them alone, rather than with a group of friends, even if the focus was active participation in Winter sports.
@Hakayama–I’m not on “Steve’s Team,” I just agree with the other people who said that communication would have helped this situation. If you’re having a small get-together with meatballs, and only meatballs, the weekend before Halloween, don’t call it a Halloween party; call it a small get-together for movie night, board games, etc., and hey, fun surprise, you made meatballs instead of just putting out a big bowl of potato chips and Cokes as per usual. If you call it a Halloween party, then people are going to expect the gathering to be Halloween-y, and festive. I know this may sound rude, but holidays are special, and having a “special occasion” party (like Halloween, Christmas, or Canada Day/the Fourth of July, or someone’s birthday) requires a bit more than the average movie or game night. If this hadn’t been a Halloween party, but rather, a regular group get-together, then I’d side completely with the OP (even though I don’t eat meat, and wouldn’t have touched the meatballs at her get-together), but since she and Bob called it a Halloween party, then I think it would have been prudent to rise to the occasion a bit more, even if it was just with some orange and black streamers, and some more snacks. Even if it had just been meant as a “snacks” kind of party, it would have been a good idea to at least add some chips, pretzels, and some veggies or fruit (apple fangs, anyone?) to supplement the Swedish meatballs. That, plus a good slasher film, would have made for a good Halloween party for a small group, for a minimal outlay of money and effort–movies can be borrowed from the library, and most dollar stores have generic chips and pretzels in big bags for a dollar. Put them in a bowl, and you can’t tell them from name brand. As for the apple fangs, apples are in season now, and if that’s too much effort, hey, tub of water, bobbing for apples, game and snack rolled into one. My point is, it’s all well and good to have a low-key gathering, but don’t call it a Halloween party, because that’s kind of “over-promising.” If all you can/want to provide is meatballs, then volunteer to host a movie night on a random Saturday instead.
Steve was definitely rude and if he didn’t like the party, he should have sucked it up. He sounds young, or at least still stuck in his early 20’s. (I’m not saying all 20-somethings are that rude or like big parties).
I do think that to me, an invitation to a Halloween party means “dress up in costume, mingle with at least 15-20 other people to laugh at each other’s costumes, drink freely (if it’s a drinking crowd), eat a few finger foods.” The OP’s party sounds more like “having a few friends over to hang out.” There is nothing wrong with the latter kind of party – I had a few people over last New Years. I did not bill it as a “New Years Party” though; I merely sent out a general notice one day in advance that if anyone was left without big plans, come hang out at my place and we’d have some snacks and pop champagne at midnight. Four people came and we had a very pleasant time. I think if I’d advertised it as a New Years party, some people may have expected something different.
Sounds like a miscommunication but whatever it was Steve was expecting, he was rude as can be in expressing his disappointment.
I have been to two parties where people didn’t dress up, it was more of a watch scary /classic movies hype up on sugar thing. Both had some hot foods and some others, though I only recall wings now. During the really scary movies we kids went upstairs and took turns playing Spyro….The second we sat around and told ghost stories as well.
OP I do have to question why you invited him in the first place? And what other foods were available? And also did you specify that it was/was not a costume party?
I only ask because I personally wouldn’t invite someone like that, its obvious that hes like that all the time. He clearly monopolizes the hosts and hostess (no matter what you say, YOU are the hostess, as Bob’s girlfriend, regardless of where it’s held). He is obviously rude and bad mannered. That type of behavior doesn’t warrant an invite!
Secondly, I can’t eat meatballs as I am allergic to yeast/wheat. That would be an example of a totally inappropriate food to serve to me. If there wasn’t any other snacks/foods available, I wouldn’t be able to eat and therefore, I may have asked you (quietly) if you had anything else, or if I could possibly order a take out. Especially if it was during dinner.
Finally if it wasn’t a costume party, Steve could have been acting obnoxious as he was the only one in costume and felt a bit silly.
Otherwise, his behavior is totally irresponsible, rude and aggressive. You handled him well, but I treat EVERY party I hostess as a Wedding, guests comfort comes first!!
Steve sounds obnoxious, but if the only food at the party was the meatball dish, then that’s a hosting failure.
I love the snark about the alcohol the guests brought. People typically bring wine or alcohol to parties. If they hadn’t brought anything, I’m sure you would have been upset that they didn’t bring anything.
Oh, and cleaning before a party isn’t just for the guests benefit, it’s for your benefit, since you probably don’t want people to think you live in filth.
One thing that stood out to me from this story was “Bob EVEN made snacks” (emphasis mine), as though this was an unusual thing for a party host to do!
Shalamar – WOW. I’m picking my jaw up off the floor as I type. The food you describe is all far preferable to Wendy’s! Either way, your guest didn’t have to announce they’d already eaten. It’s not like the snack police would’ve arrested her and her kids for not eating enough shrimp, chicken fingers, and veggies at your home (mmm I could go for some of that right now).
I have to admit that just the meatballs sounds a bit odd for a party spread. I assume there were crackers or something to go with those? Either way, the way I’d handle this would be to mention the food options in the invite, i.e. “We’ll provide the delicious homemade Swedish meatballs, crackers and cranberry juice. Please feel free to bring a dish to share if you’re so inclined”. This way, the guests have been warned, and, if meatballs isn’t their thing, they’ll bring something else, or fill up beforehand.
I wish the OP said how the invitations were delivered. If Bob just sent out a quick text saying “hey guys come over on Halloween” then Steve may have thought it was just a casual get together and not an actual formal party. When a few friends are just hanging out casually its not that uncommon for someone to suggest going out somewhere. I’m in my early 20’s and this sounds like pregaming events I have been to. You get invited to someone’s apartment for drinks and maybe an appetizer if you are lucky, mingle with a small group, and then you go out together to get a real meal or to a bar or something. If it was clear that this was supposed to be a formal party then Steve was absolutely rude. If it was ambiguous, then Steve was still rude but some fault lies with the host for the miscommunication.
Either way, Steve was really rude. He should have stayed an appropriate amount of time and then made his excuses and left.
I too am appalled at the people taking the OP to task. Now, if Steve’s ONLY faux pas had been leaving to get dinner, the fact that the OP had only meatballs (which I’m not totally clear on from the letter), would be relevant. But Steve’s rudeness began LONG before the issue of food even came up. Maybe Steve thought the party would be livelier, more exciting, more food, etc. So what? Then he stays for an hour or so, graciously thanks his hosts, and says he has something to do at home or an early morning tomorrow or something.
And BTW, there is NOTHING wrong with expecting guests to fill up on meatballs, unless one of your invited guests is a known vegetarian! Do we honestly think that some chips and salsa and a veggie tray would have transformed Steve the Whiner into Steve the Gracious Guest?
I do have one question. The letter says “last weekend” – is this info correct as of publication? What I’m trying to ask is was this Halloween party a week before Halloween? Steve’s irritation/rudeness might be a BIT more understandable if the letter is from 2012 and the party fell right on Halloween. There are a lot of exciting, fun, boisterous activities available on Halloween night, and Steve may have felt there was a “bait and switch” if he was expecting a Halloween party and instead got a quiet dinner party.
“The letter says “last weekend” – is this info correct as of publication? What I’m trying to ask is was this Halloween party a week before Halloween?”
I’m not the OP but where I live, the weekend before Halloween is typically the weekend for big costume parties for adults. Halloween night is for the little kids to go trick or treating, or perhaps for some adults with kids to hang around and be festive while all their kids go out trick or treating together (or after the trick or treating, to watch fireworks).
The numbers at the end of the story indicate when it was received to my Submission email box which, in this case, was November 1, 2010.
@Helen “I love the snark about the alcohol the guests brought. People typically bring wine or alcohol to parties. If they hadn’t brought anything, I’m sure you would have been upset that they didn’t bring anything.”
Actually no…no party I have ever hosted has someone brought alcohol without being asked to or asking if they can bring it. We tend to have alcohol free parties….if there is some it’s wine or champagne that we turn into spritzers or mimosas. Alcohol does not make a party, good company and good friends do.
I’m late to this party, but had to comment when I read some comments above. I’m surprised and disappointed at those putting down the OP. My daughter is 11 years old and knows better than to act like “Steve” acted.
Kate, acr, and Angel hit it right on the nailhead. I’m so sick of people who behave like Steve that I’ve quit even inviting people over.
@Helen, I love (not) your “snark” about the OP’s statements and your presumptous and rude twisting of the LW’s words.
Good luck, OP. I’m in my mid-30’s and can’t get people to have manners when I try to have get-togethers, but keep on trying. I would love to come to your house and have Swedish meatballs! 🙂
I agree that just meatballs wasn’t sufficient. I recently attended a party that was held by my friend’s in-laws to celebrate his and their daughter’s recent wedding. They only served nachos. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more food served. When throwing a party, event, get-together, aim for enough food, and a variety at that. Then your guests will have choices in case they don’t like a certain dish. There is nothing at all wrong ending up with food leftover afterwards. However, guests never, ever bring up the fact that there isn’t enough food and simply act gracious and polite about the whole matter. Just make it a short visit if you’re than hungry and eat more when you get home.
“I agree that just meatballs wasn’t sufficient.”
I’m sorry but how many times has it been pointed out now that we don’t know meatballs were the only food?
We don’t know what the friends were told. We don’t know how they were invited. We don’t know what food there was.
The only thing we do know is that Steve was rude, and he was rude *regardless* of the bloody meatballs!
I can relate to this story. After the rehearsal dinner for our wedding, we had an after party-very low key-just going to a bar for a few drinks. Many of our guests had traveled a long way and were quite tired so elected not to come out. We did have a small group of 10-12 people go out, which was fine by me. I prefer small groups. One of my bridesmaids, however, was offended by the small group size and kept saying we should invite more people out and asking where certain people were. In the end I just told her that everyone knew where they were and if they wanted to come out, they would. If they didn’t, they didnt.
I really don’t understand the big deal with group size. If just 4 of us went out, I would have been fine with that as well. I don’t know why you need 30 people to have a good time. Also, someone constantly harping on about the small group makes the host feel unpopular because more people didn’t want to come out, which seems kind of cruel. Why make someone feel unpopular at their wedding? Also maybe the host prefers small groups so why question their choice-in other words why make it about you and what makes you feel comfortable? It just doesn’t make sense to me why some people think this way. As a good guest I adapt to whatever situation is presented to me-big group/small group, lots of people I know/smaller number of people I know and I don’t bother the host with these issues. I just accept the situation for what it is and if it isn’t my cup of tea, I have the option to leave. It just seems really weird why some people seem to think they have a right to criticise the host for their choices instead of graciously accepting their hospitality.