The Naughty List

Published Monday, December 1st, 2014.

Every party has it’s less than savory elements that show up invited or not. And sometimes the person who ends up on the naughty list is just having a bad day and dealing with it poorly. I can find grace for that poor soul but it’s still my party, right? What am I supposed to do when Uncle Bob has decided to have WAAAY too much to drink and isn’t planning on being driven home until the keg leaves the bar? How do I handle the child whose parents have gone MIA for the reception? No, they’re still present but have decided they don’t have to be parents for these few hours while their unattended children pull the siding off the walls, color their names on the bathroom walls with sharpies, or search through the bridal party purses for a lighter! It’s cute that you think I’m kidding.

As is everywhere there are rules for how we conduct ourselves in social situations and those who cannot handle those expectations should also expect to be asked kindly once and cut off thereafter. Why so fast? Because the ugly truth is the person who cannot or will not change after being made aware there’s a problem is really saying that I am the one with the problem. Which is all good and fine when we’re

talking about taking an extra piece of cake. But that position really loses its savor when the barn is burning down because Joe was smoking in the hay barn. Was it worth Joe’s momentary embarrassment when he was asked to smoke in a more appropriate and designated area?

The best way to handle potential issues of any kind is planning ahead for the inevitability that some folks just can’t do the right thing and deciding what you will do should these things happen. Who is the best person to make the first firm but kind request to shape up or ship out? I personally think that should be the person writing the check for damages if they happen. But even if that isn’t appropriate you should already have someone designated to be your point person on non-permissible activity. After all, everyone is a guest and deserves a great experience. And that person needs to be able to identify both critical issues: 1 – please refrain from “X”, and 2 – I will personally make sure you leave if you can’t comply with my request.

My last thought on this is that nearly everyone who isn’t complying with “the rules” is doing so because they either really didn’t know or thought it was okay in this situation. A kind request to refrain is all it takes to cause the situation to resolve itself. So make your plan for who and how and then put it into action the moment something comes up. Nearly always your guest will apologize and the only other thing you’ll end up saying is “Thank you for coming, it was so great to spend this day with you!”

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