Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

The Ten Types of Dinner Guests

Written by Patti on September 2nd, 2009

You know them. You are one of them. Take it or leave it, there is always a type of dinner guest. Good, bad and freaky. The good you keep, the bad you don’t and the freaky you long list and only invite when there is a large crowd and their proclivities will only enhance the party.

1. The Best Friend: Lucky for me I have a few of these fabulous beings and if you don’t, you are not living right. This is the friend who arrives a bit early and steps right up to help. She stirs the sauce, sets out the hors d’ouevres and lights the candles. She’s a godsend. I once overextended myself while throwing a huge Christmas party and decided to make mini pizzas. This was insane. My two darling friends didn’t miss a beat and baked every pizza while they shoved me out of the kitchen to get to hostessing. You can’t buy friendship like that.

2. The Clinger: For some reason this guest wants to monopolize all of the host’s time and refuses to engage in conversation with other guests until they are full of adult beverages. This guest is dangerous and should not be invited back. The only exception is if the reason for said clinginess is something traumatic (i.e – recently loss of family member, spouse, pet, job, brand new to town, static…lol) you get the idea. Introduce her to all of your gracious guests and hope they acclimate.

3. The Star: It’s always fun to have someone of note at your parties, if you can. One time, I surprised one of my best girlfriends with the arrival of an actor friend from her past who spent the evening regaling us with stories of being on the set. It was a ball and no one minded that all eyes and ears were on our special guest. My favorite star guests include my darling girlfriend Lisa who owns the Cabbagetown Market and her boyfriend Bob, who writes about restaurants for the AJC. They are both incredibly well versed about beer and new restaurants, as well as just delightful people.

4. The Life of the Party: This can be a good or bad thing, depending on your point of view. As the evening progresses and everyone is lubed up with yummy things to drink, there always seems to be that one partygoer who steps it up a notch. Hopefully they will be tempted to sing, dance or recite poetry instead of loudly announcing that your toilet is clogged and where’s the drano, or worse yet, crying. Call the cryers a cab and keep the budding Keats and Whitney Houstons. You can always call them a cab after their performance. Free talent!

5. The One Who Can Do it Better Than You: Lord, this guest has done it all and knows it all. If you went to Mexico, they went to Tibet. If you learned to hang glide, they are an expert parachutest. You built your own house, they built the Taj Mahal. You get it. They will always try to one up you. And that can be entertainment in itself, if you let it.

6. The Expert: I love these guests and I am fortunate to have loads of them. Although they may seem shy about tooting their own horn, when they finally share their knowledge, it’s always a joy. I have friends that are architects, interior designers, fashion experts, traffic experts, experts on current events, beer and restaurant experts. Put these guests at the middle of the table and let them shine. They are never obnoxious, but their sheer knowledge of all things fun and cultured make them the most desirable guests of all.

7. The King of the Table: These guests hold a special place in my heart because they are almost always big personalities with something to say. Place your clinger next to one of these folks and they will be happy and the King will have someone to hold court with. Everybody wins.

8. The Late Arrival: For some reason, this person is always late. They had something pressing they had to attend to. Now I understand if you are late once in a while, but this person is chronic. My suggestion to you regarding this guest is just start without them and maybe they’ll get the hint. Or long list them for times when promptness isn’t as important.

9. The Eeyore: The economy is in the dumper, they are always ailing, their ovaries are dried up, their cat can’t get a date…it is always something with this type. They are a Debbie Downer to the nth degree. One solution – don’t invite them. They always put a damper on your nice party.

10. The Bon Vivant: Tales with which to regale, witty bon mots, a compliment for everyone. This guest is so desirable that one is always surprised and pleased when they have time to attend your event. They are the perfect guest, always prompt with a handwritten (!) thank you afterwards. They are funny, charming and sought after. Hopefully you are as lucky as me and know several.

There you are. There are others, but these seem to be the most typical. Pick and choose your guest list wisely and you will never have a dull moment.

xoxo, Patti


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Erika says:

    Priceless! Loved the whole post. Was putting each of our friends and aquaintences into the categories as I read along.

    You need one more:

    The Chameleon: A guest that can morph into any of the categories when needed and work the entire room like a champ, fitting into every niche.

  2. Lisa says:

    How about the guest who won't leave??? Yes, you've invited them for dinner — but not to move in!

    My mother says to brings out coffee….Tried that. Sweeping up and doing dishes. Tried that. I once just closed the bedroom door and went to sleep…Lord knows when they left.

    One time, we had to pretend to be leaving to go to another party in order to get the guest out of the house. Where would be going at 2 am? Had to drive around the block 10 times before it was safe to come home.

    Please not let me ever be that person!