Knowing how to deal with party crashers — that is, uninvited guests — is an essential skill if you’re a host or hostess. In just four simple steps, I’ll outline a fool-proof way of addressing this relatively uncommon, but very real issue. It’s the kind of thing no one likes to think about so it doesn’t get covered very much, but nonetheless it’s worth having a contingency plan, just in case.
It’s also worth nothing that while party crashers (a.k.a. gate crashers) are a potential problem for any party, the fact that wearing a costume makes sneaking into an invitation-only event that much easier makes preparing for this kind of intrusion especially relevant for a Halloween party.
The four steps to handling uninvited guests are:
Let’s take a moment to discuss each step one at a time.
Okay, so you think you’ve got some uninvited guests. First, make sure you’re right. Ask around and discreetly find out if they were invited by another guest. If so, you might want to find out whether you should expect more of them. If your invited guests brought several people with them when you explicitly asked people to only bring a +1, you may want to assess the clarity of your instructions in the future, or possibly determine whether you want to invite this guest in the future.
If the party crashers turn out to have actually been invited by someone – with or without your blessing – you can’t really fault them. They are likely unaware of the restrictions and should be treated as normal guests. Introduce yourself as the host and welcome them to your party. Who knows? You might make some new friends.
That being said, if you are able to establish for a fact that these party crashers are truly uninvited guests, assess their behaviour by watching them discreetly for a while. Are they troublesome or peaceful? If they’re not causing any problems, you may not need or event want to ask them to leave. If you determine that you want them to leave, move on to Step 2.
Before you initiate contact and confront the party crashers, make sure you plan accordingly. Get one or two level-headed friends to go with you. Depending on the crashers’ behaviour and level of intoxication, you may want to have someone ready to call the police if need be. The hope is always that things will go smoothly — most people don’t want any trouble and are just trying to have a good time — but it is far better to plan ahead than to be caught off-guard and unprepared.
Now it’s time to initiate contact. Walk up to the party crashers with a smile on your face and a friend or two nearby. Be as friendly and polite as you can be. Introduce yourself as the host and strike up a conversation. Compliment their costumes, make just a little bit of small talk, and ultimately find out how they learned about the party.
Let the party crashers know that while you appreciate them stopping by and putting the effort into their wonderful costume, this is unfortunately an invitation-only event and you just can’t accommodate a larger crowd. Politely but firmly, tell them that they’ll have to leave. They may resist or complain, especially if they’re having a good time or — God forbid — are actually looking for trouble. Try your best not to make a scene. Nothing ruins a party for everyone else like drama.
Renee Evenson has a great book titled Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People that you may find useful if you’re not overly assertive by nature. It has over 325 ready-to-use words and phrases that you can leverage whenever you’re faced with challenging people.
If the party crashers become a bit aggressive or uncooperative and you think that you need to escort them out, get your backup friends to help you gently funnel them toward the door. Be firm but not aggressive, and do not follow them outside. If necessary, lock the doors after they leave.
Keep in mind that these types of scenarios are generally pretty rare at Halloween house parties, although college parties can get a bit more rambunctious.
Regardless of age range, party crashers can be more common if the party is held at a community hall as these types of venues are sometimes mistaken for public places even when they’ve been reserved for a private function. Consider placing a “Private Event” sign near the door in this case.
For more party planning tips, check out my Halloween Party Planning 101 post or the Hosting section.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them below and I’ll respond as quickly as possible!