I Hate When Guests Linger — And 12 More Things Hosts Secretly Can’t Stand

published Dec 16, 2023
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collage of different speech bubbles of dinner party guest phrases with woman holding a glass of wine, a bouquet of fresh flowers, and a pair of boots
Credit: Photo: Shutterstock; Design: The Kitchn

I’ll be honest: I have some reservations about sharing my pet peeves as a host here for all to see. I never want anyone to feel judged when they come to my home. Plus, it’s frankly impossible to intuit every host’s unwritten rules, and mistakes are a given — even when you do know the right thing to do. I have definitely shown up to parties empty-handed, said something unintentionally rude, or overstayed my welcome. We’re humans; we mess up.

With that said, ahead of the busy holiday season, there are a few reminders to keep top of mind when you go to your loved ones’ homes. For me, personally, please stop feeding my dog from the table — along with a dozen other forgivable things I wish you wouldn’t do.

Don’t show up early. 

I am not ready. There will be no snacks and no aperitif — only a flustered host wondering how I can clean the half bathroom without you noticing. 

Stop commenting on how clean my house is. 

If I was already worried someone would be assessing the state of my baseboards, you’ve just confirmed it. (It’s worse if you sound surprised, btw.)

Don’t go into rooms with closed doors. 

I did not clean my teenager’s bedroom for this party. There’s nothing in there you want to see — I promise. 

Don’t wear your shoes inside. 

I recognize the cognitive dissonance here — I have a dog who enters and exits without shoes of any kind, but even for casual gatherings, I still want you to take your shoes off. It doesn’t have to make sense. (And yes, etiquette experts say I’m allowed to ask that of you.)

Don’t overindulge. 

I know my husband’s mulled wine is incredible, but if you drink too much, I will hide your keys, and things are going to get awkward.

Don’t leave a plate in my bedroom. 

It happens, and it’s usually teenagers who do it. It goes like this: I think I’ve finished kitchen closing duties and I’m ready for bed, only to find a stack of dessert plates in front of the television, often being licked by my dog if she gets there first. It’s not my favorite. 

Stop bringing uninvited guests. 

Honestly, don’t even ask me ahead of time if you can bring them, because how can I say no without feeling like I’m excluding someone? Think of the introverts and just bring yourself. 

Don’t keep me up late. 

When I was growing up in Texas, I knew a party was over when someone slapped their legs and said: “Welp!” As an adult, I have an even clearer signal: I always give a start and end time when I’m the host. 

Don’t bring flowers. 

I am not a fan of cut flowers. They’re more trouble than they’re worth — change my mind! But even for hosts who love them, finding a vase, snipping the stems, and arranging them can be stressful in the mad dash before dinner is served. If you must give flowers, bring them in a vase or, better yet, bring chocolate. It’s always welcome. 

Don’t change my music. 

Thanks to my Amazon Echo, it’s (unfortunately) easy for a guest to change the background music. Please don’t. 

Don’t be shy about your food sensitivities. 

I live in Portland, Oregon, where everyone abstains from at least one food group. Given enough lead time, I don’t mind the puzzle of creating a menu free of dairy, gluten, red meat, and avocados. I do, however, mind making food that won’t be eaten.

Don’t scroll alone at the table. 

I’m a millennial, and I truly don’t mind if you want to show the table a photo, or even a video, pertinent to the conversation (bonus points if it’s funny!). If it isn’t shared scrolling, though, please save it for when you get home

What’s your biggest hosting pet peeve? Let us know in the comments below!