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Article posted Wednesday, September 11, 2013 2:31pm

Dear Mary Pat,

I was recently invited to a purse party by some old high school friends. Dinner or drinks would have been a better way to catch up, but I thought, how bad can it be? Well, it was pretty bad. I don’t know which was worse, the fact that the basic plain bag was $34.95 (the suggested retail value should have been $.99) before you bought the changeable covers, or that the sales lady was all over us like white on rice. “Aren’t these to die for?” “Oh my gosh, I have all of the covers since I couldn’t decide which one was the cutest!” It took all my effort to paste a smile on my face and hope that no one noticed that I didn’t leave with one of the “coveted” bags. Do you have any tips on how to avoid these parties in the first place? Or, if I end up at one again, how do I avoid offending anyone by not purchasing any of that cheap crap? It shouldn’t be a crime having good taste, right?

Signed,

Longest Three Hours of My Life

Fish Creek, WI

Dear Longest Three Hours on My Life,

When I was 24 years old, I found myself at a Tupperware party with some girls from work…on a Friday night. I had a scary vision of repeating this type of social engagement on a much too frequent basis. I made arrangements the following day to meet with a realtor so that I could escape this suburban hell. Six months later, I was living in a much more metropolitan setting, having moved all my belongings (including a pretty extensive Tupperware collection – in my defense, it is a practical item. Plus, I hadn’t honed my home party defensive skills yet) a safe 50 miles away.

It’s always awkward because you usually know the person inviting you and you are going to feel some pressure to purchase something. It should really be left up to you, though. Plus, there has got to be a limit. For example, you can sometimes get sucked into a never ending rotation if your friends are trying to get extra credit by hosting parties. Also, some of the sales people can be pretty aggressive, which is a turn off. If your friends are good to you, they will leave you to make up your own mind to select what you would like to buy, if anything. Lastly, you don’t have to be Anna Wintour (Editor of Vogue for those of you living under a rock) to have standards. If something is cheap or ugly, my suggestion is to run as fast as you can. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, but I can promise you I wouldn’t pay 35 clams for a Naugahyde purse that most likely cost a whole $2 to manufacture.

For the record, I would like to say that I have been to some good home parties where the items were quality. To be safe, see if you can do a little research next time about what the offerings are. Look online ahead of time to see if the prices are within your budget and items are your style. If so, go to the party and enjoy. If not, politely decline and wait for the next invite to come along. Trust me, if you’re female between the ages of 20 – 80, you’ll have plenty of opportunities.

Good luck,

Mary Pat