|Photo by Debra DiPaolo|
I own crab forks? That expensive-looking cheese board is mine? And who gave me the silver ice bucket that must have cost a bundle? Tell me again, why is a Revere roasting pan so great? What I am supposed to do with these demitasses? And all those other never-used wedding gifts stashed in closets and unreachable cabinets?
When I got married some very many years ago, I just wasnt in what youd call a demitasse/cheese-fork/punch-bowl phase of life. Okay, maybe a punch bowl for skip-and-go-nakeds. But there was definitely no need for tomato roses, flower arrangements or palazzo pants when it came to social gatherings. No invitations. No place mats. Just call up friends and tell them to bring whoever and whatever they felt like. Cant make it? Too bad more guacamole for me. No need to RSVP, either.
Now, with a house, a husband and a child (and a dog and a cat: Check! Check! Check! Check! Check!), one just doesnt open up a bag of Tostitos and blast the Scorpions and call it a party. One must behave like a civilized grown-up and call it entertaining. You know its time for the transition lets call it the change when you realize that when a guest brings Miller Lite and then drinks someone elses Heineken, its simply bad form. When you want the music at a level where you can actually have a conversation. And when you truly care that your guests feel welcome, well-fed and all that stuff. And if you find yourself saying, Did you try the cilantro-jalapeño hummus? and actually fretting that they did, its time for the change.
Hey, even Martha Stewart had to start somewhere (her college keggers were killer, but even then her chip and dip bowls matched), so let me entertain you:
DONT have the game on the TV with the sound off.
DO scrub your toilet for guests who may later need to throw up (not everyone behaves like a grown-up).
DO hide your cat box so beer-guzzling guests who wont wait for the bathroom dont get any ideas while the puking guest is in there.
DO wait until 75 percent of your guests have arrived before you start drinking alcohol (just trust me on this one).
DO invite at least one unemployed standup comic.
DONT let him eat all the shrimp.
DO introduce new friends to old friends.
And DO tell your old friends not to mention what your old parties used to be like.
DONT ask guests which cleanup chore they prefer.
DONT schedule any activity for 48 hours following your party.
DO have a fire extinguisher nearby if you choose to use tiki torches.
DO have at least one bug zapper.
DONT show guests how it works by touching the transformer.
DONT hang the bug zapper over the barbecue.
DONT mention to the vegetarians that theres chicken broth in the cucumber gazpacho.
DONT think that guests will be impressed with your Serge Gainsbourg CDs. Try harder.
DO crib a compilation CD from Reverend Dans Music for Nimrods playlists.
DONT play any Andrew W.K. under any circumstances.
DO have Sinatras Songs for Swingin Lovers on hand.
DONT get out the karaoke machine under any circumstances.
DONT buy snacks from Trader Joes; its the same stuff at every party.
DO, however, serve Trader Joes cilantro-jalapeño hummus, transferred to an attractive serving dish and garnished with fresh cilantro.
DO fib and say, yes, as a matter of fact, I did make the cilantro-jalapeño hummus from scratch, thank you.
DONT serve Charles Shaw wine, a.k.a. Cheap Chuck (see Trader Joes rule).
DO get too much ice (it still wont be enough).
DO buy those cute name-tag things for wine glasses (classy).
DONT put the fresh-squeezed lime juice for the margaritas in what could be mistaken for a pitcher of margaritas.
DO circulate and make guests feel welcome by saying, Hi. Glad you could make it. Rehearse this often before the party.
DO begin introductions by saying, So-and-So, do you know So-and-So? You two have something in common, so please talk until you discover what it might be.
DONT ask people if they are on Friendster. Just stop it.
DONT yell PARRR-TAY!! at any point.