Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Know how to accept party help when it is offered

Happy New Year! I spent the night with an 80s Prom theme, wearing a giant royal blue dress and dancing with my date, Devo. It was all fun and games until, in True Prom Style, another woman arrived wearing the same dress as me. We obviously had to have a screaming hair-pulling fight, especially since it was clear she had accessorized better than I had.
Heidi's belts are bodacious; Emily has no belts at all.
Way before any of that royal blue drama, however, yesterday afternoon (LAST YEAR) as the party was being set up, I marveled at my hosts' party prep. They have a three-story house and that means that party prep for them is very different than it is for me in my small one-bedroom apartment. For instance, their kitchen exists on a different floor from where the party food would be set up. They've been throwing these parties for years now, though, and they have the party prep down to a science. A couple things really stood out to me:

  • One of the hosts, the excellent Theo Black, assembled first aid kits before the party started. This is a great idea. 
  • The other host, the equally excellent Holly Black, made pairs of post-it notes. One would say I am the Cheese Board; one would say I am where the Cheese Board goes. This meant that all the serving platters could be taken to the food tables, arranged in a logical manner, and then their spots on the table marked. After that, anybody could take the platters back up to the kitchen, fill them or refill them, and then replace them where they should go. 
Because Holly had those table spots and platters labeled, it meant that when people asked how they could help, she could tell them. My home is much smaller so that's not a strategy I need to employ, but it is certainly an effective one. Similarly though, in 2012 I realized how to say yes when people at parties ask if they can help. Here are two things I routinely tell people when they ask how they can help at parties: 
  • I show people how to buzz guests into my apartment building, and then I enlist their help in doing so. I can't spend the whole party standing by the front door. 
  • In the middle of the party, if people ask how they can help, I ask them to do a tour of a specific room and pull any empty beverage containers - recycle recyclables, put glasses/mugs right in the sink. 
Both these requests are finite, easy, and a huge help to the hosts. 

NOTE: My friend Sasha has an entire blog about party planning! It's called A Sasha Party


  1. This Post-It idea is genius. I feel like maybe I can even employ it during non-party times, like when I want to train the Hubbs to put things away.

    1. Let me know if that works. It could be life-changing for many of us.

    2. The key seems to be getting the habit to form before he develops blindness to the Post-Its, the way he develops blindness to the mess in the first place.

    3. Mess Blindness: It's a scourge. :(