A few months ago, Marcia checked in with some tips on making things comfortable when really close friends reap the benefits of being so close. In a small space, things can get intimate really quickly. Being prepared to handle awkward situations with grace and a sense of humor can make all the difference.
While I've encountered some crazy challenges in our many years of having people over (like the time a guest proudly dropped his pants to share his new unique piercing — I countered by suggesting that it might be the perfect time to open champagne), there are other less embarrassing situations that seem to crop up with some regularity. Here are some I often face:
Body Noises: Stomach rumbles are easy. They're best countered with a laugh and an offer of food (or a suggestion of eating something if it's your stomach that's doing the rumbling). Other noises, especially those made in the bathroom, may be more embarrassing. Jackie O used to run water when using the powder room. Other suggestions: play music on your smart phone and make a lot of noise with the toilet paper. If it's your house consider playing music in the bathroom when you have guests over to give them that extra bit of privacy.
Body Odors: Remember that scene in Sex & The City when Carrie lets one fly while she's in bed with Big? He laughs at her for burrowing under the covers but, however natural it may be, most of us feel the same sense of embarrassment when it happens to us. If you're in the bathroom, lighting a match can help out (we keep matches in our bathroom for lighting candles when we bathe but they're also there in case guests need to use them for other purposes). If you're not in the bathroom, the best thing to do is 'fess up, laugh away the awkwardness and open up the doors and windows. We like to keep candles lit both in the bathroom and around our home whenever we have guests over. Not only does it help counteract this issue, it's pretty.
Running Out of Toilet Paper: This happened to my friend when they were over at our house. OMG, embarrassing. Luckily, it was a really good friend. It's challenging to figure out where to store extra rolls — especially if your home, like mine, has absolutely no storage whatsoever. My solution was to slip two extra rolls over the handle of the standing brush we keep in the bathroom to clean our toilet.
When Something Breaks or Spills: It's bound to happen. A sleeve catches on a lamp, a guest brushes by a vase, a plate is balanced precariously on a side table or lap. There's a crash and then, silence. Hopefully your guest hasn't broken that platter that's been in your family for generations. If breaking it will upset you, best not to use it. Save it for when you're alone. It's nice if your friend offers to replace it but it's a good idea not to bring that expectation to the table. Awkward situations may cause people to behave poorly out of embarrassment. Have a dust pan and brush available to help clean things up. Paper towels or rags that are easily accessible are a good idea as is a good all purpose stain remover (I like Gonzo).
Burning the Meal: It happens to the most accomplished cooks among us. A sense of humor, a supply of pasta and sauce in the pantry or the number for some really good take-out are the ingredients for taking the meal, and the evening, from disaster to great night.
Guests with Food Issues: So, you've invited your boss and his girlfriend over for dinner and it's not until they get there that you remember that she's a vegetarian and apart from a few paltry vegetables, your main course is meat, meat and more meat. Uh oh. This is another time when a well-stocked pantry can rescue you from a sticky situation. Offer to make your guest something else and make a mental note for next time. Luckily we've found that most guests with strong food challenges have long since learned to work around all kinds of situations — sometimes going so far as to bring their own food or eat before they come over. Same goes for friends that don't partake in alcohol. Most are cool with a nice glass of water with a piece of fruit in it or some juice mixed in. The best prevention for these incidents are asking questions when the invitations go out.
Pet Challenges: I was very allergic to dogs as a kid and while I seem to have mostly grown out of it, the memory of those asthma attacks is so strong that I can still be a little wary when it comes to dogs. Which means, of course, that dogs invariably decide that I am their favorite guest and try to get as close to me as possible. While you may have a dog or a cat or even a pet snake that you love, not everyone may share your love of animals. Best to gauge your guests' reaction before allowing Fido to spend the evening cuddling up on the couch between the two of you. A quick lint roller of the couch can also help. Even a dog lover would rather not be covered in hair.
What's your most embarrassing moment in your home? How did you handle it?
Image: Laure Joliet