10 Common Party Foul Mistakes by Guests—and How to Avoid Them

Don't be *that* guest.
Andrea Fowler

Andrea Fowler


No matter how many parties you’ve thrown, or how hard you try to predict the unpredictable, some party fouls just can’t be avoided. Maybe a guest forgets to turn off the bathroom sink and you now have a flood in your basement. Or the private wine fridge was raided and you’re out a few very expensive bottles of vino.

There are some common party foul mistakes made by guests that are totally preventable. If you keep these tips in mind when the tables are turned and you’re the invitee, you’ll be the best guest in attendance.

From birthday celebrations to anniversary parties, we put together the most common etiquette mistakes made by guests and the fixes to prevent them.

Here are some of the top party fouls and tips to avoid them:

Party Foul #1: Inviting people without asking.

Photo: Jacob Lund/shutterstock.com

The fix: If you need an accurate headcount for your event (or just don’t want uninvited guests), send out a real invitation rather than a casual invite, like a Facebook event page or group text. Old-fashioned snail mail or even a digital evite does the trick. Either way, an invitation says: “I’ve put thought into this party, and here are the details that should be respected.”

Now, the RSVP wording is your opportunity to make a clear point about guest list flexibility (or lack thereof). Something like, “RSVP by [insert a date]. Due to limited space, please note that extra guests cannot be accommodated.” 

If you think that’s a buzz kill, add a nod to your theme to loosen it up: “RSVP by [insert date] so we can program the time machine accordingly. We can’t take everyone back to the ‘90s, you know.”

Party Foul #2: Ignoring the RSVP date.

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The fix: So you sent out invitations, but some people haven’t responded. Unfortunately, this happens. Set your RSVP date a week earlier than you actually need to know a headcount. Then, once that date has passed, reach out to outstanding invitees asking whether or not they received the invitation and if they’ll be able to make it.

Party Foul #3: Asking who else is coming—before RSVPing.

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The fix: Trying to feel out the guest list before confirming attendance is one of the worst guest party fouls. You don’t have to answer the question directly, simply respond with something along the lines of: “Only the best of the best got the invite. It’s going to be a blast!” Or, send a funny GIF.

Party Foul #4: Inventing new parking spaces at the venue.

Photo: Kekyalyaynen/shutterstock.com

The fix: Whether you’re hosting at home or at a venue, think about the car-to-guest ratio and parking capacity. If there might be confusion that results in people getting blocked in—or worse, parking on a lawn—give explicit instructions with overflow areas.

If parking is too tight for comfort, encourage carpooling or  help make introductions between guests who live in each other’s driving routes. You can also recommend guests take an Uber to Lyft and get dropped off.

Party Foul #5: Not dressing to match the theme.

Photo: Navistock/shutterstock.com

The fix: There are a few reasons why guests discard theme-related instructions. Sometimes they just don’t know where to get an outfit, and even if they do, they don’t want to spend money on a one-time wear. 

Here’s what you do: Incentivize with raffle-style costume prizes. The more elaborate the costume, the more entry tickets you get. Include the contest details on the invitation so guests can get excited about putting their outfit together.

Party Foul #6: Not mingling with people outside their circles.

Photo: Jacob Lund/shutterstock.com

The fix: The easiest way to encourage mingling between friend groups is to plant ice breakers around the party. Think: interactive games (life-size Jenga or cornhole), a photo booth area, or conversational tabletop card games.

Another trick to encourage meeting new people is to display names. Obviously name tags are too lame for a party. Opt for cocktail swizzle sticks that can be written on with permanent marker, or some kind of drink tag. Guests can write their name on the cocktail stick or tag and it will double as a way to tell drinks apart and learn someone’s name at a glance.

You can also tee-up conversations for a seated meal. Using tented place cards, write the guest's name on the outside and a prompt on the inside. Think: “Ask Dave, on your left, about his recent trip to Africa.”

Party Foul #7: Congregating in one area.

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The fix: Guest clusters form around three main areas: by the cocktails, by the food, or in a bathroom line. If possible, set up the cocktails and a main food station on opposite sides of the party space. You can further prevent crowding by dispersing light finger foods on available tabletop surfaces or opting for passed appetizers, that way food comes to guests as they’re mingling.

Party Foul #8: Appointing themselves to play DJ.

Photo: oneinchpunch/shutterstock.com

The fix: The easiest fix to this problem is to hire a proper DJ or live music to manage the tunes. You may be thinking that’s way out of budget, but you’d be surprised how affordable some party services are—so don’t count it out just yet.

Party Foul #9: Getting a little too drunk.

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The fix: Supplement the beverage menu with two or three tasty nonalcoholic options. Soda and flavored sparkling water are great, but a mocktail is even better. Set out pitchers of water so it’s easily accessible, that way staying hydrated is just one convenient pour away.

Party Foul #10: Overstaying the welcome.

Photo: Jacob Lund/shutterstock.com

The fix: No matter how much you love your guests, there comes a point at the end of the party where you’re ready to call it a night. You can be proactive about avoiding this by clearly printing an end time on your event’s invitation. If you’re at a venue, usually the staff can take care of nudging people out the door, but if you’re at home, just start easing into the clean-up process—they’ll get the hint.

Find more party planning tips and ideas here on The Bash.