As speaking in movie quotes is my second language--I am fluent--this scene has popped into my head multiple times lately as I've encountered people at parties who lack in the social skills department. Recently I was at a potluck. I brought a plate with a wedge of brie, fruit and crackers. The first guy through the line for food took a piece of bread and proceeded to "butter it" with about half the wedge of brie! Then he stepped over to a salad and painstakingly took out pieces of tomato one-by-one and made himself a tasty tomato cheese sandwich. Poor person who came after him (me, unfortunately) didn't get so many tomatoes in their salad.
The very next day my mother threw a party where she served autumn trifle in individual jars. She even went as far as spray painting the lids with chalkboard paint and writing the names of the guests of honor on the tops! Each jar was also tied with a fall colored ribbon. It was cute and adorable and so yummy and apparently irresistible. As they said goodbye one guest picked up a full jar of trifle and took it with her. She didn't ask, "May I take one home?" She just took it! Jar and all! Imagine if someone took home food from your party along with the dishes you were using to serve it?! My mom, gracious as can be, didn't mention it. "Oh well. Just a jar." (There were a couple close friends of my mother's who said, "May I take my dessert with me? I will bring you back the jar on Sunday." Which is a completely different scenario than just taking someone's dishes without asking!)
|The Autumn Pumpkin Trifle and the adorable presentation!|
Another time when my mother was throwing a party--my sister's wedding reception in fact--she decorated with framed engagement pictures of my sister and husband and red roses. One new in-law relative (I only mention the in-law part because had it been someone blood related there would not have been the awkwardness that came with having to say something) took a picture complete with frame and a bouquet of roses complete with one of my mother's favorite vases. Seriously! They just tucked the items under their arm and headed for the door! Ummmmmmm, excuse me, that's my vase.....
In other social awkwardness news, my sister and brother-in-law attend a corporate Christmas party every year. It's a big catered shindig. There are beautiful holiday centerpieces that apparently people think are just up for grabs. The caterers had to make an announcement from the mic last year, "Excuse me just a moment folks. The centerpieces are not party favors. Please do not take them! They belong to the catering company." Ghetto. There are no other words.
Then there are the people who go by the motto, "Never show up to a party empty handed." People, this is a ridiculous motto. If you RSVP and ask, "Is there anything I can bring?" and your hostess says, "Would you bring a salad?" then bring a salad--not a pot of spaghetti. (Yes, this has happened to me.) If you ask and she says, "Thank you, but no. Just come and enjoy." Believe her. If you'd like to bring a little hostess gift that is, of course, completely acceptable and appreciated! But, as I also speak in TV quotes--it's my third language--remember that episode of The Office where Michael shows up to the catered corporate cocktail party with a Tupperware dish full of potato salad? Yeh. Don't be that person. Likely your hostess has already planned out her meal, making it well-rounded and balanced on the palate and your little offering could totally throw off her game. Example: my sister-in-law threw a fireman party for her son. She made five alarm chili and cornbread. Someone showed up with a potato salad. My sister-in-law graciously thanked her and put it in the fridge. At the end of the party, realizing that it hadn't been served, the friend went into the fridge and took it back. Faux-paux number two. If you give it, don't take it home.
Remember on Seinfeld when George's parents have dinner with his fiance's parents and they bring a loaf of bread, which the parents do not serve? And at the end of the evening when it hadn't been eaten they take it back?!
All this to say, Mommies, teach your children well. Teach them how to behave at parties so that when they grow up they don't embarrass themselves or make others feel awkward. As we enter a season of parties--office parties, church parties, school parties, neighborhood parties, may your mantra be, "That caviar is a garnish."