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By Jayme Muller

October 13, 2021

Title image for a survey on American party guest behavior

Parties are a fun way to connect with friends, family, or neighbors and meet new people that are sure to become fast friends. Or will they? We’ve all been to parties where the guests are less than hospitable. In fact, it’s likely that we’ve all encountered at least one person that seemed to be set on ruining the party they were attending. And while these party guests have spurred a lot of funny anecdotes after the fact, during the party, they can be anything but pleasant.

In light of our shared experience with both model guests and rotten ones, we wanted to see which states had the best and worst party guests. Hopefully, in the process, we can finally see if Southern Hospitality, Midwest Charm, West Coast Chill, or New England Politeness all ring true within their respective states.

Methodology

To satiate our curiosity, we conducted a nationwide survey centered around party guests and their behavior. We polled over 1,000 Americans and asked them to rate their typical guests on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the worst guest behavior and 5 being the best. We also asked respondents to weigh in on general habits that you’d expect from party-goers, like offering to help clean up after the party is over and the etiquette around taking the last bite of dessert.

We compiled our results to find the states with the best and worst party guests and any interesting insights that are associated with each. Check out our results below!

The U.S. States with the Best and Worst Party Guests

A heat map showing the top 10 states for the best and worst party guests

It appears that, when it comes to where the best party guests live, there’s no specific region. The states with the best party guests are all over the map, with Tennessee coming in first with an average score of 3.80 out of 5.00. The next state that has the best party guests is New Jersey with 3.78. The third and fourth states on our list of best party guests are Wisconsin and Hawaii with an average score of 3.72 and 3.70, respectively. So, it stands to reason that there are good party guests everywhere, not just in a certain area of the country.

The rest of our best guest list is just as varied as the top four, and all scored over the national average of 3.57. The states that fall below the national average are also varied. Delaware (3.36), Nebraska (3.40), Iowa (3.40), Oklahoma (3.41), and Maryland (3.46) make up the top five states with the worst party guests. Interestingly, West Virginia, Mississippi, and South Carolina made this list, perhaps showing that being from the southeast doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to always mind your manners.

In an interesting turn of events, as we dove deeper into the data, it quickly became clear that some of our respondents not-so-humbly voted that their own home state had the best party guests.

The U.S. States that Think the Most of Themselves

A bar chart showing the states that rated themselves as the best party guests.

The top three states that rated themselves as the best party guests are, interestingly, the top three states in our first section. New Jersey was by far the state with the most self-votes with 8.79% of respondents giving it an average of 3.89 out of 5.00. Wisconsin and Tennessee were a little bit more modest with their feedback. These states saw 5.64% and 4.75% of their respondents rate their partygoers generally in line with their actual findings – 3.78 and 3.75, respectively.

However, there were several states on this list that don’t appear on our best guests list—Washington, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Florida. These states have more average scores overall, but you have to admire the pride these respondents have for their home states and their residents.

General Insights on Guest Behavior

A series of donut charts describing how Americans party in the United States

From how much people imbibe to how often they stay after to help clean up, below are some of the most interesting insights we found during our research.

General Interactions

It’s common for adults to partake in a couple of alcoholic drinks during a party, and according to our research, that’s exactly how many people drink on average. So, if you do pass 2-3 drinks during a party, it may be a good idea to switch to water at some point.

Another interesting insight surrounds gift giving. It’s common to bring the host a gift if you’re attending a party, and 97% of Americans believe the appropriate amount of money to spend on a gift for a host is $50 or less. So, for your next party, pick up something nice for your host, but be sure that it doesn’t break the bank.

Partying Across the Generations

Skinny jeans and middle parts aren’t the only things that Millennials and Gen Zers are at odds about. According to our survey, 77.6% of Millennials say their guests bring a food dish or drink to a party, a full 10% more than Gen Z. And while 61% of Millennials bring a gift for the host when going to a party, that same percentage of our Gen Z respondents will judge a party if it’s not up to their standards. Even though it seems like it may be hard to impress Gen Zers, they will tell you if they’ve broken something (only 15% of our Gen Z respondents said they wouldn’t.)

How Men and Women Party

Men and women generally view the world differently, and the same goes for how they view partygoing. 56% of American women will stay at a party until people start to leave whereas 49% of men will only stay 2 hours or less. Additionally, women are more likely than men to be fashionably late because men are more likely to show up early to a party—23.5% do so compared to just 15% of women.

Men and women also have differing opinions when it comes to guests overstaying their welcome. 61% of American women consider a guest has overstayed their welcome 30 minutes to an hour after the party ends, and they aren’t helping to clean up (which 68% of women volunteer to do.) 56% of men, on the other hand, consider a guest has overstayed if they have been there 2 hours or more.

Additionally, 24.7% of American males have had the cops called on their party due to the noise level, compared to just 14% of women.

To Clean or Not to Clean?

While helping to clean up during and after a party isn’t a spoken requirement, it’s often an implied one that people take very seriously, especially because only 38% of Americans say their guests clean up after themselves. We’ve already seen how women are more likely to stay behind and volunteer to clean, but what happens when someone breaks something?

12% of the Americans we surveyed said that they have had expensive items broken in their home by a party and 27% of Americans say they have found damage done to their house or yard after a party that no one told them about. Luckily, the Gen Z crowd will likely tell their hosts what they broke and everything will be taken care of from that standpoint.

The Ultimate Party Fouls at American Gatherings

Everyone commits a party foul or two, but we wanted to see what some of the more egregious faux pas were that rubbed guests and partygoers the wrong way. 

One of the most cited transgressions was snooping, and a shocking amount of people admitted to taking part in it. 33.7% of Americans have snooped through something they weren’t supposed to at a party with medicine cabinets, bedrooms, and kitchen cabinets being the main targets for party guest snooping.

Another transgression that people listed was whether or not their guests can bring an uninvited plus one. It’s a hotly debated topic, but in all, 27% of Americans bring a plus one to a party even though they weren’t invited. If you’re ever in this situation, just remember – when in doubt, go without them.

Lastly, we wanted to see what sorts of things stop people from being invited to parties, and the results were a bit surprising. Stealing, belligerent drinking, and fighting are the top 3 reasons why Americans don’t invite someone to a party. These are all relatively major offenses, so if your M.O. is to occasionally spill wine on the carpet, you’ll likely retain your party invites.

It’s Not the Party, It’s You

A series of pie charts showing the consequences of bad party behavior

Our last section has to do with interpersonal relationships and how being a good or bad party guest can affect them. According to our poll, 47% of Americans would break up with a significant other over poor party behavior. Additionally, 14.8% of Americans have lost a friendship over poor party guest behavior. So, it’s safe to say that people take being a polite and hospitable guest very seriously.

Conclusion

Parties uncover a lot of spoken and unspoken rules regarding what makes someone a good guest or not. But, one thing is for sure – women and Millennials are the groups that go out of their way to make hosts feel appreciated. And, you should stick to having fewer alcoholic drinks to avoid getting too drunk and causing a whole lot of problems. 

At RTA Outdoor Living, we’re committed to making any party great by providing outdoor grills, appliances, refrigeration, and more to help ensure get-togethers have good food for every guest, even the ones that aren’t so great. If you’re hosting or attending a party soon, give us a call to learn more about us!

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