Open Thread

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  1. Clueless in Japan

    Hi, my organization is going to host a very formal business dinner party (no seating). As a host, I am wondering what you should do when you want to close the party. Do you make a speech? How do you let your guests know that it is time to go, without being rude?

    I am Japanese, and totally clueless about this.

    Thank you for your help.

    • Becky

      it actually sounds like you will have a formal cocktail party with heavy hors d’oeuvres rather than a dinner party? Generally speaking, guests at a “dinner party” arrive promptly for dinner, stay throughout the event and do leave about the same time…all with very definitive social “cues” associated with a seated dinner. Ie host gets up after everyone is finished with dessert and coffee. With a standing affair, presumably you would not be serving ‘courses’ of salad, entree and dessert, if so it does make it more difficult to provide those cues. Guests at cocktail party/standing affair may arrive and leave at various times (closely timed with the stated times on an invitation), though departure times may vary greatly (ie guests ‘making an appearance’) With a stand up here are several suggestions…. the time on the invitation can include an ending time….. 6-9 p.m. Guests will come knowing what time they are “supposed” to leave. if there is a bar, you can stop serving alcoholic drinks approximately 30 minutes before you want people to leave. You can have a special dessert / coffee presentation about 1 hour before finishing up. If it is not served along side the other meal items, serving of dessert is a customary cue that the events are winding up or in the case of a stand up affair, that anytime following dessert is an acceptable time to leave. If there are speeches/presentations to be made, that can help (perhaps timed with serving of dessert and clearing of the other meal items). Though important presentations / speeches really should be made earlier in the event.

      If you have folks that won’t leave even after a generous grace period following the time stated on the invitation, turn the lights up, thank them individually for coming and sweetly apologize that you have to allow the staff to start break-down. Though inappropriate for this occasion (and most), there is the classic host joke statement ……”you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”

    • Nonnie Mowse

      Hi C i J, I’m posing this as a question because I don’t know and would like to.

      Where will the dinner be, a restaurant or someone’s home? If it’s a business function wouldn’t or couldn’t there be an end time on the invitation? I don’t know if that could be offensive to some cultures, but whether the invitation is verbal or on paper, an end time could be mentioned? And if someone here knows why it could be construed as offensive to a particular culture (or offensive in any case), the education would be enjoyed and appreciated.

      • Clueless in Japan

        Hello and thank you for your reply.
        The dinner will be in a hotel. The end time will be mentioned in the programme (for the whole event). I am wondering if there is something the host should do, because in our culture, the host is required to make a ‘ending speech’ even if the end time is printed on the invite.

        • Elizabeth

          I’m not well-versed in Japanese culture, but if hosts traditionally ‘close’ the event with a speech, then it seems likely that yours should too. It might be worth consulting a Japanese event-planning website, or a Japanese person who has organized events such as yours.

          • Clueless in Japan

            Thank you for your reply.

            Since the majority of our guests will be Europeans not too well-versed with our culture, we want to do things in a ‘western way’ to avoid being perceived as rude or making them feel awkward.

  2. Becky

    My husband is very close to his cousin, who is getting married in November. In fact, my husband is the MC at the event. The bride and groom are having a pre-wedding event the Thursday before the wedding that is a traditional cultural add on to the actual wedding. There will likely be about 150 people at the Thursday event. It is called for 6:30pm. Dinner will be served and there will be a band. The main issue is that the Thursday before the wedding is Halloween. I have small children who have literally been looking forward to Halloween since June. One possible solution would be for me to take the kids out trick or treating and come to the party late. I know the bridal party will be angry but I feel that it was inconsiderate to plan the event during such a big night for kids. Any suggestions?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      It is rude to show up for dinner substantially late. You can respond that you won’t be attending the event if it is more important for you to be home. If I were you, I would either ask the parents of one of the children’s friends if they can take them trick or treating along with their children or take the children trick or treating in the afternoon and finish before the event starts.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with Winifred. It would be better to skip the event then show up late. Alternatively, you could celebrate Halloween on an alternative date. I wonder if their school will have a Halloween dress-up party on a different day, or if you could host a small Halloween party for a few children at your home the weekend beforehand. Or, can you take them trick or treating at the mall during the day? That way your kids get to dress up and eat candy and won’t feel as deprived not trick-or-treating. All things considered, though, it seems like the family event is more important than trick or treating, which, as you know, happens every year. Your kids will only be as disappointed as how much you talk up (or don’t) the holiday.

    • Jody

      This holiday is imporant to your kids and to you as a family. It sounds like the best thing is for you to decline the event but your husband can attend. If the bridal party asks why you can say it’s because of family plans that can’t be changed (which is the truth). Yes, others could take the kids trick-or-treating as somebody else suggested, but it’s not the same as going out with their mom.

      Are you sure that your community does trick-or-treating on the actual Halloween day? I’ve heard that some communities occasionally have trick-or-treating on a different day.

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