Friday, December 05, 2014

Party Peeves

It's still party prep mode here, so here are a few things I have learned over the years that make parties a better experience for hosts and guests:

* The worst, the absolute worst thing you can do is LICK YOUR FINGERS WHILE SERVING CAKE!!  OMG why do people do this??   I see this ALL THE TIME!!!  This past summer we were at a birthday party and the grandmother was serving the cake.  She licked her fingers and snatched up the crumbs off the cake board and ate them after every single piece she cut.  I watched her for a few minutes and whispered, "You're not supposed to lick your fingers when serving cake!"  She looked embarrassed and wiped her hands on her shirt before continuing on....   Really though.  Who doesn't know this -  clean your hands well or wear plastic gloves when cutting cake.  DO NOT put your fingers in your mouth because nobody wants cake with your spit on it.

* Have the food ready or close to it at the start of the party.  Don't wait until the party starts to begin cooking.  That way, you can mingle and enjoy the party instead of being busy working in the kitchen.  Guests won't feel obligated to offer to help either.  They are guests and shouldn't be put to work unexpectedly setting up!

* Set up paper products and table ware accordingly.  Plates, forks, and napkins go by the food.  Drinks and ice go by the drinks.  Have everything accessible to guests.  Don't hide essentials.  I once went to a two year old's party where the Mom had all the drinks hidden in a cabinet.  You had to go ASK her every time you needed a drink.  She spent the entire party standing in a corner.  She would take the two liter out of the cabinet, fill a cup, and put it back in.  Repeat. There were 30-40 people there, so the "Where are the drinks?" was on going.  She'd sigh at every request for a drink, but kept them under lock and key.  If you can't deal with the thought of having few two liter bottles sitting out, or letting guests pour themselves a drink, you shouldn't have people at your house.

*Label.  Label the mystery cheese dip.  Label the food.  Label the spicy salsa.  Most importantly - put a Sharpie by the cups.  Have everyone write their name on a cup!!!  This greatly reduces the number of cups used.  "Who's drink is this?  Mine?  Yours? I don't know.... just get another one."  If it has a name on it, you know and guests tend to re-use their cups.  Less trash, less wasted drinks, less money wasted on paper goods.

* Have places to sit and eat.  Borrow tables and chairs if you have to.  Nobody wants to balance a drink, plate, fork, and try to eat standing.  Nobody wants to stand the entire time or sit on the floor.  A note to guests:  DO NOT SIT ON ICE CHESTS!!  Again, we were at a hot summer party where a large bottomed woman plopped herself down on the ice chest where the all the drinks and ice were.  You know what happened.  Every time someone needed a drink, she had to wobble herself up every few minutes.  She would get annoyed every time.  After a while she began to yell out "DOES ANYBODY ELSE NEED A DRINK WHILE I AM UP?"  How about sitting in a chair?? on a couch??

* Get the main event stuff done with in two hours tops.  Give thirty minutes to an hour for the kids to play and for everyone to arrive.  Let the adults eat and mingle during this time, because (see above) you already have the food prepared and everything is set up.   How the rest goes is up to you.  For birthday parties, we usually sing Happy Birthday, serve cake, wait about 15-20 minutes, and open gifts.  With in two hours, maybe a little longer... we are done.  I'm not rushing anyone out of the door afterwards.  Stay until dark if you wish, but for those who simply cannot spend 6 hours at a kid's birthday party, they don't feel bad about leaving.

What else can you add?  Share your party pet peeves!!

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