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  • Writer's pictureLisa Plancich

Bringing a Plus One at the Last Minute

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

plus one etiquette
Bringing an unexpected guest to a party?

We are all faced at some time in our lives with an unexpected guest. A sister may arrive the week of Thanksgiving. Your parents stay over during Hanukah. A cousin from Boston might want to hang out the week between Christmas and New Years. It is, after all, the Holiday Season. These are the occasions when relatives gather for religious reasons, friends sequester to toast special moments and everyone wants to create memories worthy of gathering again next year.

With all of this celebrating, special occasions are bound to overlap with visiting guests. The question will undoubtedly arise: do we bring them, or do we miss the celebration? Before you decide to tote your plus-one along, consider a few things.

1) Will they will feel comfortable at this particular party? 

Plus one guest etiquette
How comfortable will your unexpected guest feel?

Before you drag your friend or relative to this gathering ask yourself the following. Do they know anyone? How will they feel having to be introduced to everyone? Do they tend to be a bore? How will your friend react at this gathering when the are having to meet friends and talk to strangers? Are they outgoing and easy to talk to? Will they pull you away from the party before you are ready to leave? Are they going to end up sitting on the couch, looking at their phone and not interacting? Will they make a positive impression on the host(ess) and your other acquaintances? Finally, is there a possibility they will make you look bad? Like when they drink too much, or talk politics or religion or how broke they are?

If the answers to all these questions are all good, then go. If it’s even a bit questionable, then there are other options for your friend. You could send them to a movie or put a movie on in your living room. Explain to them that you need to attend this gig and that you will see them in the morning. They are adults after all and can't expect you to amuse them all hours of everyday. Allow them to entertain themselves for an evening.

2) What type of party are you attending?

unexpected guest etiquette
What type of party are you bringing your plus-one to?

If you think your unexpected guest is up for hanging out at a party they were not invited to, consider the type of party you are attending. Is this gathering an open house? Is this group specific, like a book club? High end cocktail where feeling comfortable (and proper attire) is necessary)? You need to consider what they party is, what the host(ess) would expect and how your unexpected addition will be welcomed.

If it’s a selling-type party i.e. jewelry, candles, etc., there’s definitely a possibility your addition will fit right in. When the hostess benefits from more people, it’s a win-win. More people equal more sales.

If this is a work or company party, where even a spouse is not necessarily invited let alone welcome, then your friend would not be appropriate. Bottom line is if this is work related, you need associates and work partners rather than outsiders there.

Parties are fun. Friends are fun too. Relatives are wonderful. In this busy time of year, however, it’s hard to keep all the plates spinning while maintaining a positive level of happiness. When someone unexpectedly arrives at your door and says for an extended amount of time, keep in mind that they weren’t invited to your night out. Also, you don’t have to bring your uninvited guest to a party just because you were invited to it. Decision-making time does not have to equate with making everyone uncomfortable.

uninvited guest etiquette
Bringing a plus one when they aren't expected can put pressure on everyone

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