Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Are Home Sales Parties Really "Parties"?

Dear Tazi:

My friend’s wife has a habit of inviting me to what she calls “girls’ night” parties, about once a month. I started going because I wanted to show support for her and their marriage (which is rocky) and to let her know that no matter how things end up I would like to maintain a friendship with both of them by currently maintaining friendship with them separately, as well as together.

The problem with “Paula’s” parties is that they are the kind where you feel pressured to buy something. What she calls a girls’ night is usually nothing more than a home sales party for products ranging from kitchen products to sexy lingerie. Once I am there, Paula will tell me that I don’t need to buy anything, she just wanted the opportunity to get all her friends together for some wine and conversation and the chance to try new things. These “new things” are usually something that she would like for herself and will get for free if enough people buy stuff from the person selling it.

I generally do not buy the things that Paula’s parties sell for the simple fact that I have no interest in the products. I always bring a small hostess gift with me when I go to Paula’s, and it is always something that I know she wants – from a bottle of her favorite liquor to a small piece of jewelry I know she would like.

At the last party Paula threw, I brought her a bottle of Patron tequila because it was supposed to be her birthday party (it ended up being a Mary Kay party; I don’t use that brand). When I did not buy anything, one of Paula’s oldest friends pulled me aside and threatened to “kick my [backside]” for not showing Paula more support. I stood my ground and told the woman that I would like to see her try, and then left the party early because I felt unwelcome.

I have not gone to any of Paula’s parties since, and she keeps asking me why I do not attend. She keeps telling me that I do not have to buy anything, just to come and have a good time. Should I tell her the truth as to why I am not going to her parties (because her friend threatened me and I am not comfortable being around the woman)? Or should I just tell her that I have other plans; invariably, her parties are on Saturday nights, so I could easily make other plans so as not to lie to her.

Partied Out

Dear Partied Out:

Does Paula tell you in advance that her “girls’ night” parties are going to contain a sales pitch and what product it will be for, or is this something you discover when you arrive? If you know in advance what she is pushing, you could tell her that the product is not to your tastes and that one of her guests expressed severe upset over the fact that you don’t buy anything, feeling that you are not being supportive of your mutual friend. Let her know that if she is hosting a product party that interests you that you will be happy to attend. If Paula knows her friend as well as she should know a lifelong friend she will have no problem figuring out who said what to you and handling things from there.

If Paula like to surprise her guests by springing a sales pitch on them when they enter the door, you can and should be more frank with her, letting her know that you are uncomfortable sitting through a sales pitch for a product you have no intention of buying, and that at least one of her friends finds your behavior unacceptably rude. Again, there is no need to name names; that would get you nowhere, and besides the onus is on Paula to ensure her guests comfort. The issue at hand is her surprise sales pitches, not her friend’s threatening behavior.

I suggest that you tell Paula that you would love to spend time with her but that a home-sales party setting is not where you are most comfortable. Suggest an inexpensive restaurant that welcomes groups and see if the others in the group would be interested as well. The amount they spend of product that they probably do not need could go towards a girls’ night celebration that is enjoyable for all and full of pressure for none.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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