And they have nothing to do with overcooked chicken!
Hosting a dinner party—or any party, really—can be a stressful endeavor. Part of the reason for that is practical: There’s simply so much to do, so many moving parts. But another stress-inducing factor is a little less tangible: The anxiety that comes from wanting to ensure everyone is happy, well-fed, physically comfortable, at-ease, and hopefully even a little impressed—but not knowing exactly how to achieve that. As in, there’s no way to read your guests’ minds to know if they actually like your music selection, if they don’t like how long you’re taking in the kitchen, or if they secretly wish you’d offered a dairy-free dish.
Mind-reading may not be in the cards, but here’s something to give you a glimpse into what party guests are really thinking. A OnePoll survey conducted for BJ’s Wholesale reveals party guests’ top-rated pet peeves when it comes to hosts. You never know, understanding guests’ biggest irritants might help you know what to do (and what to avoid) to get through your next party with a little less stress.
At the top of the host/ess don’t-do list is waiting too long to serve food or drinks. Translation: Make sure the first thing you should do after welcoming a guest is get a refreshment in their hand and point them toward the bites. Another top offender is forcing people to mingle. (Although, can you blame an eager host for wanting their guests to be somewhat social?) The takeaway here is to find a way to encourage mingling subtly, rather than aggressively. (Might we suggest some fantastic party games to get things flowing?) The third least-favorite host oversight is only serving food with dairy and/or gluten. It’s hard to please everyone, but it’s smart to either poll the guest list for allergies and dietary restrictions beforehand, or make sure to offer a good variety of dietary options.
Ironically, a few other least favorite host behaviors had to do with the previously mentioned host anxiety: apologizing too much, trying to clean while everyone’s still there, or being annoyingly accommodating (hosts should be attuned and attentive, but not overbearing!). So guests definitely notice if their host is on edge or trying too hard. Though it’s easier said than done, it’s good to keep in mind that being a happy and relaxed host will set the tone for the entire party.
Here’s the full list of party snafus, big and small, that really rub party guests the wrong way—just an FYI for any future hosts out there.
1. Waiting too long to serve food or drinks (39 percent)
2. Asking guests to mingle (34 percent)
3. Not offering any sort of gluten-free or dairy-free option (34 percent)
4. Starting to clean up too early (32 percent)
5. Getting drunk (30 percent)
6. Cancel the party the day-of (30 percent)
7. Apologize too much (30 percent)
8. Rushing people out the door (29 percent)
9. Trying too hard to be accommodating (27 percent)
10. Not playing music (26 percent)