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Direct Sales Parties: Dos and Don’ts

Has this happened to you? An envelope arrives in the mail. The return address is that of a long-lost girlfriend. You feel excited–you’ve missed her! You feel honored that she took the time to get back in touch with you. You open the envelope and see what looks like an invitation. With great anticipation, you open it, wondering if she’s finally getting around to having that dinner party she mentioned last year. But wait! It appears your friend is having a (candle, jewelry, purse) sales party. Your reaction is:

a. “Cool! I love (purses, candles, jewelry)!”

b. “Well, I guess it’s better than staying home Friday night.”

c. “Oh, my checkbook is invited. How sweet.”

From the looks of our informal subscriber poll, your responses will fall somewhere between “b” and “c.” Yet despite our lukewarm appreciation for direct sales parties, these home sales—hawking everything from home decor to *ahem* intimacy supplies—have become one of the main ways girlfriends get together. We think it’s an unfortunate trend. Not because the items aren’t worth buying. We all have our favorite Tupperware, Pampered Chef, and Mary Kay products. And, we understand that you sales reps are just trying to make a living. However, let’s just be clear. Getting women together to hear a presentation and buy some products does not a “girls night” make. 

We recently asked our subscribers to weigh in on home sale parties, and responses were mixed. Here’s what some of them had to say:

The pro:

“I enjoy going to them whether I need anything or not.  I like to see what is new and visit with some girlfriends that you don’t get to see all the time.”

“I actually like home sale parties if the sales person is not real pushy and if they let us, the participants, relax and have agood time.  I have a group of friends and periodically we have home parties and have a great time because we have fun.”

And the con:

“I HATE them. …you are trying to get free stuff on the backs of your friends’ purchases.  I also think most of that stuff is overpriced and junk.  It’s actually kind of insulting to be invited to many of these parties.  Someone you never get together with otherwise decides to invite you to spend money.  No thanks.”

“No!  I don’t like these parties.  Once your circle of friends agrees to a party, it’s never-ending. You get invited to multiple parties for the same product because each girlfriend wants to help out her friends by booking a party. It’s worse when one of your friends is a rep for these products. I get invitations every time the companies bring out a new product or line. Too much pressure.  Big risk of hurt feelings!”

While we don’t think the home sale party is going away any time soon, we’d like to offer some constructive dos and don’ts for potential hostesses and their guests. Add your own dos and don’ts using the comments form, and together we’ll make this whole direct sales thing more tolerable:

DO think before you invite. Are you going to alienate some people? Have you invited your friends out simply for their company lately? If not, maybe you want to postpone that sales party until you can shore up your relationships.

DO let people know that spending is optional. One girlfriend we know invited us to a candle party. On the invite, she said that even if we weren’t planning on buying, to please come and hang out anyway. She really wanted our company, and that made us feel good.

DON’T feel obligated to attend. If you really can’t stand these kinds of parties, politely decline the invite. Eventually your girlfriend will get the message.

DON’T diss the merchandise. Once you are there, have fun, but don’t give the salesperson a hard time. She’s working hard for her money.

DON’T ask people to bring food/drinks. You’re already asking them to bring their checkbooks! You spring for the refreshments.

DON’T invite people you hardly know. It’s awkward for them, and they see it as a ploy to get more free stuff. If a friend brings a friend, make an effort to greet and thank the person for coming.

And finally,

DO gather your girlfriends for some evenings where nothing is for sale. You’ll find many creative, inexpensive girls night ideas right here on

Something to add? We’re all ears. Use the comment form below!


  1. Great post! I actually would rather be invited to go shopping at a mall or someplace open-ended with friends. If I actually have a need to buy something, it’s unlikely it’s what is being offered by one “store” on that particular night. Dinner and Oak Brook mall? Sure. Partylite/Pampered Chef/Lia Sofia? No thanks.

    I’m glad you ladies have addressed this unfortunate sales trend, thinly veiled as “girlfriend celebrations”.

    Comment by Gabi — October 10, 2008 @ 11:20 am

  2. I loved your post! Thanks!!! It’s totally a DO to think about inviting friends as the consequences of not thinking about it can be less pleasant! :)


    Comment by Sarah — October 10, 2008 @ 11:45 am

  3. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a rep for a home party plan. I agree with most of your post, especially the part about not givig the rep a hard time ;) I think a LOT of reps out there forget that the point of the party is to get women together to laugh, have fun, de-stress. IF she is good at what she does she will be part of the fun, not the “teacher” at the front of the classroom telling everyone to shhhhh! The direct sales industry, especially the romance products, are a great way to get things at your convenience, in the home of a friend with some wine and laughter. The minute the party turns into a lecture even I’m out of there!

    I am loving your blog! Women definitely need to get out together, minus the men and kids and just re-connect and have fun. Party plan or not, that is what fuels us as women!!

    Comment by Kelly — October 10, 2008 @ 2:42 pm

  4. I hate folks that only get in touch when they want to sell you something. I don’t mind if I hear from them from time to time but when the only time they talk to me is to market to me, that’s a huge turn off.

    Comment by Trish | eMail Our Military — October 12, 2008 @ 9:27 pm

  5. I am one of those sales reps..i sell a great affordable line of jewelry..I get together with my girlfriends for other reasons other then the jewelry..I never push it on them but they on the other hand are always more then anxious to have parties, etc. because they love the product..I have a great group of girlfriends who have my parties quite often just to get together and have fun..they dont have to buy if they dont want to and there isnt any pressure..they know its my livelihood. pretty much any reason to get together is good enough for us!!!

    Comment by wanda — November 29, 2008 @ 7:09 pm

  6. I really dislike these parties. My main issue is the people doing the inviting tend to be in a position of power in the workplace and not going is rarely an option.

    Comment by dana — January 28, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

  7. I have been to many. I actually dread them; but go out of guilt. That’s the problem. These companies prey on guilt within friendships. They know once you go, you WILL buy. Otherwise you look cheap. It’s also insulting to only “hang out” with these “friends” when they need head count at their “party”. Overall, not a fan.

    Comment by APOL — October 19, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

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