Ten Things Not to Say to a Cocktail Party Guest


Cocktail PartyThe inspiration for this list came after attending some parties recently.  Although I’m not a psychologist I can only surmise the individuals I happened to run into were behaving in an abnormal manner. In searching for truth, I Googled social disorders and came upon “Cocktail Party Guest” and the explanation became clear. I hope you enjoy the list. If you are at times, a cocktail party guest know this list is with love.

10 If you happen to talk to a cocktail party guest, do not say.”How are you?” If you do at best, you will only have to stand for ten or so minutes for the rundown. At worst, you will be forced to take the person home with you since you now are forced into the position of Good Samaritan. (You had hoped they would say, “Fine,” like everyone else didn’t you?)

9 If you happen to talk to a cocktail party guest, do not admit you are a writer. If you do, at best the person will tell you some stories they are going to write. At worst, you will be forced into a corner and have to admit the person reminds you of Ernest Hemingway. (Of course, maybe one of those stories will be your next novel)

8 If you happen to talk to a cocktail party guest, do not mention your last vacation. If you do, At best you will have to attempt to get away after the second holiday story. At worst, you will watch your ice melt as you go on a verbal tour of all the continents. (Don’t you wish a trap door would open and drop you ten stories to the furnace room.)

7 If you happen to talk to a cocktail party guest, do not ask what they do. If you do, at best they will try to convince you they own the city. At worst, they will be in the selling profession and won’t let you go until you sign up for a cleaning product pyramid scheme. (Wasn’t this the project that you read about where all the officers of the company went to jail?)

6 If you happen to talk to a cocktail party guest, do not ask where they live. If you do, at best they will assume you are trying to type their social/economic status. At worst, the person will believe that you are a cat burglar and have designs on their jewels and money. (In each, case you didn’t get an answer and the latter begs the question,  did you enjoy the police escort home?)

5 If you happen to talk to a cocktail party guest, do not be the first to mention your kids. If you do, at best, the person has you outnumbered by a factor of two children. At worst, the person you are talking to has just returned from Washington where they witnessed the President giving their child the Student of the Year award. (Man, it could not get any more humiliating than that huh, Bunky?)

4 If you happen to talk to a cocktail party guest, do not raise a political point. If you do, at best the person is a political science professor at the college, and you are in for a pretty long evening. At worst, the person is a member of a splinter group who have as a mission the destruction of the two-party system. (How do you feel going home with your very own AK 47 gift)

3 If you happen to talk to a cocktail guest, do not admit you know nothing about Doctor No or Marvel Comic characters. If you do, at best you will need to find someone else with which to talk. At worst, the person will take the next three hours providing the background and an in-depth synopsis of every episode or character. (Remember to relax your knees now and then, so you don’t pass out.)

2 If you happen to talk to a cocktail party guest, do not make a negative comment about the party. If you do, at best the person will disagree and then tell the host. At worst, you will make your unfortunate comments to the unknown spouse of the host who just happens to play golf once a week with your boss. (That meeting with the boss on Monday might be a little tense hey Bud?)

1 If you happen to talk to a cocktail guest, do not keep calling them by the wrong name. If you do, at best the fourth correction will verify you are an idiot. At worst, unbeknownst to you, this person has been hired by the company you work for to come in and weed out the deadwood. (You may not be too old to find another job. Yeah Right?)


  1. Never thought cocktail party and comic book lover would go hand in hand. Honestly, this sounds like a situation I’d just want to avoid. Leave me by the bar with a tab that somebody else will pay for.

    1. That is the perfect remedy. Have someone drive you home though.

      1. Preferably not the cocktail party guest.

      2. Yes. maybe a cab driver.

  2. “Don’t you wish a trap door would open and drop you ten stories to the furnace room.” LOL! I’ve wished this many times. Great list, John!

    1. Me too Jill. I call it a cringe moment. Thanks. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the advice, but if I ever find myself at a cocktail party then my day is already ruined, so I’m not likely to be too bothered about etiquette.

    1. I can imagine. I agree with you, but sometimes it is not avoidable for me. I do behave.

  4. I’ll just stand by the bar and mumble.

    1. Good idea. Very safe.

  5. Eek! Cocktail parties send me racing for the hills! I can’t fathom feeling more dread at the notion of doing anything else (yes, that includes public speaking, ha!). Thanks for the morning chuckle, John.

    1. You are welcome, Debbie. Thanks

  6. I’ve discovered that introverts and cocktail parties don’t mix (I usually need a full day to recover from being “on”) Ugh! But I loved the humor in this. Number 1 is my favorite.

    1. Thanks Mae Clair. 🙂

  7. I think I’ll simplify matters by just staying far away from all cocktail parties in future. Hilarious, John. 😀 — Suzanne

    1. Thank you Suzanne. 🙂

  8. I absolutely abhor small talk. At cocktail parties I find myself holding up a wall until somebody else who likes to hold up walls walks by and joins me. My hubby is the same way. As a single woman, I was told by an old friend to NEVER take a seat at one or else I’d be a captive audience to some clod who wants to dominate me into his corner.

    1. Yes. Being captive is no fun unless it was let’s say Bradley Cooper.

  9. I’m with Susan. Small talk is not my forte at any time.
    Cocktail parties are mine fields for information you’ll hear about yourself the next morning. Hope it’s not a story worthy of a front page headline. 😀 😀 😀 Powerful drinks they’re serving.

    1. Ha ha ha. I remember one party where the host did not know the proper mix of alcohol and margarita makings. We were all bombed by 9:30.

      1. Whoa. Early night, then? 😀 😀 😀
        The cab companies must have made a killing that night.

      2. We all walked home. I forgot my shoes.

  10. Cocktail parties are not often on my social agenda, but after reading your list I think I will just wander around, smile, nod and keep sipping my drink if I do attend one. I suspect you have experienced #9. Just saying you are retired could have its best/worse consequences too.

    1. Yes. Someone last Saturday asked if I was retired and I was caught. I did not want to go the writer route so I said ,”Yes.” They quickly countered with ,”So what do you do all day lay on the beach like a beach bum?” I said yes to that question too and lucky for me the person needed to say “hi” to someone across the room.

  11. Thank Dog I never get invited to parties…

    1. Yes. Thank Dog.

  12. John, this is a fabulous list. I’m not sure I’d take Dan’s advice. Mumbling is okay, but standing by the bar is inviting and too much of its offerings could lead to a loose tongue and get you in deep doo-doo.

    1. Yessh, that can happen. Thanksh, Michelle.

  13. I enjoyed the list. but then I began thinking, “What would I say?” I realize I am now scared to say anything. If I become a cocktail party guest, I will quiver in fear behind the refrigerator. 🙂

    1. You need to find a quiet place with someone interesting and talk about real things.

      1. I think you’ve definitely hit on a better solution than mine. 🙂

      2. Ha ha ha. Thanks. 🙂

  14. I am in awe at the authenticity of this list. Been there,done that, got the T shirt. Cocktail parties, a history of large and small stories and melting ice.

    1. The melting ice is the most disappointing. Thanks for the visit.

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