Dinner party disaster: 5 guests you don't want at your table

Oct 11, 2011 at 12:49 p.m. ET

Whether you’re hosting or attending a dinner party, there are a few types of people you don’t want to end up sitting close to. Some people make a social event better – they’re polite, good conversationalists and generally know how to have a good time without going overboard. But for every great guest, there’s one that seems to put everyone else on edge. In hopes that you never have to host or get cornered by a dinner party dud, we’ve compiled a list of some of the worst offenders when it comes to the people you see at parties.

1The non-stop talkerThe non-stop talker

Dinner parties are supposed to involve conversation, among several people, not be a chance for one person to dominate the entire night with their own stories and anecdotes. If you happen to end up beside a non-stop talker, good luck getting a word in edgewise. Once he or she starts talking they aren't likely to stop for anything other than to take a breath or eat another bite of food – never quite long enough to allow you or anyone else to comment. The biggest problem with this particular guest is that they ruin the conversational flow of the party if they have the whole floor, or they make it very difficult for whomever they've cornered to feel included in the proceedings (since they're trapped by someone who won't shut up).

How to deal: If you're alone with the non-stop talker, gently tap them on the shoulder and politely excuse yourself. If this person is dominating the entire dinner table, as the host you are allowed to make a polite interjection and ask someone else for their opinion. Hopefully your chatty guest will get the hint and give the floor to someone else.

2The over-indulgerThe over-indulger

Some people just don't know how to pace themselves when it comes to how much they imbibe. If you end up with a guest who can't seem to say no to yet another glass of wine, things could get awkward for everyone else, especially if they turn offensive or belligerent after a few (too many) drinks. This person may be perfectly fine right before that third cocktail, but by the time dinner rolls around they're acting like the class clown.

How to deal: If things get really out of hand, call your over-indulger guest a cab or put him or her to bed in a spare room. If they're not so far gone as to need an escort home, subtly suggest they switch to water, tea or coffee for the time being.

3The party pooperThe party pooper

The party pooper never wants to participate in any games or party activities, and no matter how hard you try to engage him or her in anything you have planned, they won't take the bait. Instead, they'll sit off to the side and act like they're above all the fun everyone else is having. Not only is this disrespectful to the host and the other guests, a negative attitude from just one person can bring down the energy level of the whole party. We understand that not everyone feels comfortable wearing silly hats, sporting costumes or dancing, but there's something to be said for at least trying. If you have a party pooper on your hands, or you're at a gathering where there are a few downers in attendance, don't let them ruin all your fun.

How to deal: Gently suggest that they at least try whatever you have planned, as a favor to you, the host. If that doesn't work, make sure whoever isn't getting involved has everything they need, then return your attention to your other guests – the ones who are participating.

4The show-offThe show-off

Like the non-stop talker, the show-off likes the spotlight. But unlike the non-stop talker, this person will let you speak, if only to tell you that whatever you've done, they've done it better. Whatever you've been through, they've been through something worse, and whatever you've seen, they've seen it before. In fact, the show-off has done everything first. She's the best, smartest, most interesting person at the party (at least in her opinion, which is the only one that matters). Talking to the show-off is frustrating because there's no discussion – just a series of one-ups and bragging from someone whose ego is too big for the table.

How to deal: The only way to handle the show-off is to try and get away from her before she can talk your ear off all night with tales of how awesome she is. Politely disengage and then avoid her as best you can for the reminder of the night. If you're hosting and notice she's caught some poor party-goer in an endless debate about who did what better, step in and suggest they rejoin the rest of the party.

5The trouble makerThe trouble maker

There always seems to be one person at every party who likes to cause trouble. He or she isn't shy about putting people on the spot, loves to ask awkward questions and has no problem being politically incorrect just for shock value. Having someone like this at a party means they could likely offend someone more sensitive. Friendly debate and robust conversation are great at dinner parties, but if one person is being downright rude and obnoxious, everyone will start to get frustrated.

How to deal: Don't be afraid to put the trouble maker in his or her place. There's no need to cause a scene, but if you know that the majority of guests are having trouble dealing with the off-color behavior, there's no reason not to pull the offending party aside to quietly suggest they tone things down on behalf of the rest of the guests.

More hosting tips and advice

How to be the best hostess
How to host a dinner and a movie party
Should you hire a party planner?