A buffer guest is a close friend that you invite to a party ten or 15 minutes before the rest of the guests are scheduled to arrive. This guest or group of guests is meant to 1) make it seem like the party has already begun and good times are to be had and 2) make it less awkward in case someone you don't know particularly well arrives before everyone else.
I invited Jona over as a buffer guest in case Tim or Josh came over early, because I don't really have a lot in common with them
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