Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Trailing Spouse Party Primer

Disclaimer: We are in the US ... so this has nothing to do with Kathmandu. We'll be back in KTM in late August!

Since Bill is here for such a short time we had a couple of friends over last night from different chapters of our lives. Of course we were the only ones with the benefit of knowing everyone and some people knew no one else but hopefully they left fat and happy anyway.

Early in our marriage we discovered our ... differing preferences in extending hospitality. Grin. Bill would have a grand scale party every weekend if he could. The more the merrier. He is completely keyed up and energized after a party. I like to have dinner parties where we can sit and talk with our friends. Bill loves to meet new people and sort of bring them into the fold. I love to hang with my homies. So we do a little of both and it all works out.

Party tips from the Trailing Spouse (both philosophical and practical):

1. Don't entertain to impress, just share what you have and enjoy your guests. The point is just to be with each other.
2. Know your own limits. I love to cook for no more than 8 people. More than that and I'm calling the food in.
3. Don't underestimate the weight party clean up may have on your enjoyment of being with your friends. Hiring someone - anyone - to do that for you will change your par-tay life. If some high school student will just run around and pick up dishes and hang out in the kitchen cleaning up you will be SO SO happy. Of course I discovered this during our first overseas tour when my helper cost me all of $15. Not so lucky back in the US of A but still worth it.
4. Do what works for you. You aren't your mother, your friend or your colleague. Don't apologize for not "entertaining" like someone else. Who cares. It is amazing how much people just appreciate being invited over.
5. Rarely can you invite everyone you know to one event save possibly your wedding! So don't stress out over who you couldn't invite this time. There is always next time. Not everyone likes a party anyway.
6. Plan ahead and you won't be stressed the day of. The only thing you want to have to run to the store for is ice.

All of the above apply to our personal partying. Official "entertaining" (I just have to put it in quotes because truth be told I don't like the word and all it implies) is another matter. Diplomatic entertaining is nothing and everything like having friends over. On the one hand of course we want the guests to feel comfortable and fed and watered. On the other hand they are usually not there to be social, but to work. These receptions are just opportunities for the various parties to meet and talk shop.

Now I know that this doesn't apply to everyone but Bill and I are Jesus people so we pray. And when it comes to parties we usually just pray that the time would be a blessing for everyone. Who can lose?

We are off to the beach for a week. There will be no parties. Unless Bill starts inviting people over he meets while making sandcastles with the kids. This could happen.


megscarson said...

I so enjoy reading your posts! I am glad you're getting some R-n-R in the States. Blessings. Megan

Heidi said...

Laurel~ I, too, enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for the great advice about entertaining. My husband and I are similar personalities. :) It stresses me out to invite people from various 'departments' of our life who don't know each other because it puts extra demands on my hostessing. I don't multi-task well (or small-talk well), and I have a hard time cooking/serving, parenting, chatting, and performing the basic hostessing skills all at the same time!

While I am glad that you are continuing to post here in the U.S. I miss your photography!! I love seeing your world through your lens. :)

Jenny said...

Hey, Laurel.

Hope you didn't feel you had to entertain Harwell and Margaret Ann and me at the beach house! We did have such a fun time seeing you all.
Here is the Photoshop site I was telling you about

It has such good stuff. Hope it helps. I'll check in with you all later. Have a safe trip home.

Hot Air said...

See now- this is what I needed. Advice on how to host parties. I've been stressing out over an upcoming shindig at our house this weekend, and you just blew away my worries with a few paragraphs.