I'm the editor of Smart, a magazine for women in southcentral Pennsylvania. I said "I do" to my wonderful husband in 2002. We have two adorable children who have taught me much about life and love. With the birth of my second child, I bid farewell to my dreams of having a clean house, folded laundry and family dinners on weeknights.

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House-party etiquette: Should you feel obligated to buy something?

By KARA EBERLE for Smart

Being  invited to a party at a friend’s house is a fun excuse to indulge in calorie-laden appetizers while chatting with the girls.

But what happens when the party also functions as an opportunity for an independent contractor to sell jewelry, kitchen gadgets, clothing, purses or makeup?

Should you feel obligated to buy something?

Should you stay home because you don’t have money to spend?

What’s the right thing to do?

Heather Rife, who has sold Silpada jewelry for more than three years, said she doesn’t expect everyone to make a purchase when she holds a party.

“Everyone’s finances are different,” said Rife, 34, of Spring Garden Township. “If they see something they like, I tell them how they can earn it for free (by) hosting a party.”

Patti Wentz, who has sold Thirty-One Gifts (purses, lunch bags and more) for about two years, agreed. “The only expectation I have is that everyone has a good time but is respectful of the hostess,” she said. “I do not take it personally if each guest does not purchase something.”

But would they rather you stay home if you don’t plan to buy anything?

The short answer: No.

“I think it’s worse to have a party where no one shows. At least if a few people come, it’s worth your efforts,” Rife said.

So what happens if there’s a small turnout?

Wentz, 47, of York, said she tries to make the best of every situation. “I have had shows with two guests, where the hostess earned lots of great free items. So it is always worth both my time and the hostess’ time to follow through on the show, no matter how many people come or how many place an order.”

What people might not understand is that being a consultant requires a lot of work.

“Many people don’t think of it as a real job, that consultants only do it for fun,” said Wentz, who quit her full-time job in June to focus on selling Thirty-One. “While it is fun for me, it is also a source of income.”

Thinking about throwing a shopping party?
Follow these tips to make sure it’s a success.

Invite lots of people.  Expect that only a quarter of the people invited will attend.

Get orders from people who can’t attend the party.

Check in with your consultant regularly.

Decide whether to serve ­alcohol. If you serve ­alcohol, hand out drinks after the show starts, so guests will be focused on the ­presentation.

Call guests the night before to make sure they’re still coming.

Source: ehow.com

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