The Velvet Rope: Why every hostess needs boundaries

Guestpost by Beretta Fleur on Apr 26th

Ariel's talked boundaries over on Offbeat Bride, and today we bring you a fresh take on boundaries, from the perspective of a party host.

My college roommate loved throwing huge parties. At first it was fun, but after about the third or fourth shindig, I began spending these parties locked behind my bedroom door. I wanted to read myself to sleep, not listen to people throw up to the same DeeLite CD over and over. After spending the last several months writing a hosting book, the concept of letting people into personal space has been heavy on my mind. It's an important part of hosting, and one that I've given literally years of thought to. It's also a pretty sensitive topic to many people.

These are things that I've come up with after trial and error, and lots of serious thought. I encourage anyone who likes to entertain to develop his or her own hosting boundaries and set in place what I call a "velvet rope" policy.

I've seen friends with an open door policy get robbed repeatedly by former guests. I've hosted people I didn't trust or like out of pity, and have had bad parties and sleepless nights because of this. The truth is, even though we may want to be open-minded and open-hearted to everyone we meet and like, we are responsible to our dependents, housemates, and ourselves or our landlords as homeowners or tenants. There are safety and legal issues to consider.

I keep in mind that anyone I host:

  • Knows who I am
  • Knows where I live
  • Knows if I have pets or an alarm
  • Knows the layout of my home
  • Knows what items I have/where to find them (computers, weapons)
  • May know my schedule, and my housemates' and/or family's
  • May know what my/our cars look like

Yet I strongly feel that there's a way to be gracious and still be discerning. I always loved in Steel Magnolias when Julia Roberts invites Daryl Hannah to her wedding for 'bleedin' armadilla cake' the morning of the event. That's totally me! Up until a month before our wedding, if I met someone I really liked, I invited them. I went with instinct, combined with references. These spontaneously invited guests came, had a blast, and we've grown closer since. Conversely, I DIDN'T pity-invite someone, even though I almost guilt-tripped myself into it several times. I stopped because I knew I wasn't 100%. This person turned out to be extremely troubled, and though I feel for them, I'm thankful nearly every day that they were not at our wedding and in our home.

Finally, like any good club with a velvet rope, I also know that I'm responsible for creating a safe, guest-friendly environment. If there are things I don't want them to find, I lock them up. If there's a pet behind a closed door, there's a sign. If there's drinking going on, there's a sleepover invite. I knew several housemates who threw legendary parties every summer; since they couldn't vouch for the extended friends of six people, they simply locked up parts of the house while the good times raged. This worked well for them, for years.

Over the years, my "velvet rope" has had hugely positive results, for my housemates and my friends. The drama has dwindled and the parties I throw are fun, happy, and safe. If there are people I want to engage that I don't know well enough to invite to my home, or if I'm hosting a party for someone else's guest list (such as a shower or birthday), I plan events at clubs, restaurants, or bars instead.

What about you? Who will you let into your home and under what circumstances?

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About Beretta Fleur

Beretta Fleur is a writer and designer living in Los Angeles with her husband and pets. She models, cooks, and shoots sporting clays. Her book, Hosting With Style: Beretta Fleur's Guide to Parties and Homemaking, will be available Fall 2012.