‘Tis the season for guests to spill eggnog on the floor.
You know, the one I mopped specifically to impress them after weeks of ignoring my kids’ leaky sippy-cup milk puddles. Yup, it’s the holidays, and I usually end up hosting at least one party. We have a lot of space, and I have an over-developed sense of obligation.
Also, I actually think it will be grand fun until the night before, when I realize people are going to come into my house expecting food, drink, and basic cleanliness.
I will most likely continue to plan parties every year until I drop dead from a stress-related condition. The truth is, planning activities that bring people together gives me a thrill right up until the moment they start arriving, at which point I transform into an anxious, introverted mess.
If you or your family want to continue coming to these parties (as in, if you want me to live to plan the next one), here are seven things to avoid:
1 | Don’t show up early.
Please don’t show up 15 minutes early and ask me what you can do to help. I know you have good intentions, but there is virtually nothing you can do to help at this point, except turn around, go back to your car, and pretend you didn’t see me mopping the floor, braless, in yoga pants.
I need every shred of time to be ready for this event, and if you come traipsing in early, you are going to disturb the illusion that I actually have things somewhat together. If you absolutely must do something to check off your service advent calendar, take my kids to see Santa hours before the party starts.
2 | Don’t ask me for a house tour.
Behind all these closed doors and baby gates are the toys I didn’t have time to clean up and the laundry I didn’t have time to wash. Getting a couple of rooms acceptable for public viewing proved a herculean feat. I can’t work that magic everywhere.
You don’t want to see my house. And I really don’t want you to see it.
3 | Don’t ignore your kids.
I know. You’re at a party. You want to relax. All the good babysitters are off kissing their cute college sweethearts under the mistletoe at this time of year, and a night off sounds wonderful. But if you bring your kid to my house, I need you to stop them from destroying everything in their path.
Please make sure that they haven’t stashed the green bean casserole you made them try under a couch cushion. Please don’t let them through the baby gate to the great unknown of the Rooms That Are Not Appropriate for Public Consumption. And please, please watch them near the oven and stairs.
I’m too busy making sure my own kids aren’t murdering each other and that the ice hasn’t run out to watch yours.
4 | Don’t give me unsolicited advice about the food.
I cooked for you! You are eating a thing that you didn’t have to pay for or prepare yourself! Therefore, I don’t want to hear about how your sister makes something similar, but even better, or how, if I substitute the butter with applesauce, I can halve the calories.
If you can do it better, bring the dish yourself. Except don’t. I already have an inferiority complex. If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it (I don’t, and I won’t).
5 | Don’t give my kids any cookies.
Or candy. Or sips of your adult beverage. They know when I’ll tell them no, and they know who doesn’t know any better. They will come up to you with their big blue eyes and cherubic golden hair and ask you in their sweet baby speech for 10 cookies, and you will be hypnotized by their matching red sweaters, and hand over the goods.
And then they will turn into psychotic demons and wreak more havoc than a bevy of freshman frat boys at their first kegger.
6 | Don’t do the dishes.
I know many consider dish-washing the hallmark of a good guest, but all it will do is stress me out. I’m slightly neurotic about the process (which, I’m sure, will surprise you). When you load the dishes haphazardly, I just wait for you to leave so I can fix them.
Also, I arrange my rainbow-colored Fiestaware ROYGBIV-style, so if you put the orange next to the green, I’ll have an aneurysm. (Yes, I’m aware they have pills for that.) Also, I’ll feel guilty if you spend your party time doing housework, and it won’t give me a break, because I will hover over you the entire time, begging you to go sit on the couch with everyone else.
7 | Don’t forget that I actually love you.
I know I’m a stress case. But it’s really important to me that you have a good time and preserve the illusion that I have my life somewhat together.
If you follow these steps, I won’t try to kill you with my eyes, and I’ll let you bring the leftover cheese ball home.