Couples – Party Procedures

It’s the end of the year, finally. Whether you like that idea or not, now is the time of year when there are many parties – from formal work holiday parties to informal family gatherings. Do you dread these events? Here are some ground rules for you and your partner to follow to make getting through these events painless and enjoyable!

Before you go to any event, discuss the following thoroughly:

  • Dress code

It sounds like an easy discussion to have, and yet it is often overlooked. Do you as a couple wear matching outfits? Do you want to avoid wearing colors that clash? Is the neckline of your gown appropriate for the occasion? Does your partner agree? Here are some standard generalizations about how men and women judge each other, what they look for and what they conclude:

Men tend to look at a woman’s exposed skin to gather clues about her age and availability. Men tend look at other men’s shoes and wrist-watch to determine wealth and position.

Women tend to look at a man’s overall appearance and demeanor to determine their status. Women tend look at another woman’s jewelry, clothing, makeup, hair, skin for imperfections and wrinkles, shoes and handbag, among other things.

Are you and your partner portraying yourselves the way you wish to be perceived?

  • Are you bringing anything?

Is that a standard at this kind of event? Was it mentioned on the invitation? What item would be appropriate, how much should it cost and which one of you is getting it?

  • Purpose of the evening

Is this your partner’s work holiday party? Ask him or her what they hope to accomplish at the party. Do they want to mingle? Do they want to be free to roam and work the room? If this is the case, you are not there to have as much fun as you can – your role is supportive. However, you do have rights. Decide ahead of time how frequently you two will re-connect throughout the evening. Ask for pointers about whom to talk to while your partner is busy with colleagues.

Is this a family gathering? You still need to ask your partner what they expect of you. Will you be assisting the hostess/host? Are you expected to help serve or clean up? Respect the rights of your partner over the culture of the family gathering. If they are accustomed to drinking beer and eating on sofas, you aren’t within your rights to try to change that or comment on it. The primary role of the partner is to fit in and be comfortable.

  • What not to say to whom/topics to avoid

There are family members or co-workers that may be at a gathering or formal party that your partner must treat a certain way. I recall with horror my husband referring to a coworker by an unflattering nickname at home that I inadvertently used at a work party. Do not assume anything! Inform your partner of sensitivities, secrets, disconnects and other information that they need to know.

Do not discuss politics or religion. Period. Ever.

  • What is okay to talk about

Can your partner inform you of topics that would work – of course! Also, tell them information that would help grease the conversation wheel about co-workers or family members. Seek out these helpful hints. Memorize the right people to discuss the right topics with. Don’t make the mistake I made, confusing the gardener with the avid horsewoman or discussing raising chickens with the vegan.

  • Signal sending

What if you need a rescue because the person you are talking to is very boring or has bad breath? Know your signals ahead of time. A switch of the glass from right to left hand could save you from a fate worse than death if your partner is astute and you’ve agreed to the signal ahead of time. Another signal that you hopefully won’t need to send is the one you both agree on to mean, “stop staring”.

  • Pre-arranged time to leave

Eventually, it will be time to leave. Have you and your partner discussed this ahead of time? Is it just before dessert or just after? How will you leave? Will you say goodbye to the host only, or are there others you must alert before leaving? And finally, what is the phrase or reason to leave? Among some of the acceptable reasons for leaving are a babysitter who must go home or work the next morning at an early time. Unacceptable reasons are varied. Among some of the worst reasons are:

-A TV show or sports event you forgot to tape

-Another, better party is just starting

-Your partner has gas

If you play by the above rules, you and your partner should have a very pleasant evening and maybe even make a memory to enjoy for the rest of the year to come.