Lesson in Entertaining from a guests view

ilovepinkOctober 3, 2007

I had friends throw a party recently. After months of offering help when I had the time they called me three days before in a panic. I was out of town on vacation due to arrive home the day of their party.

The host decided to cook for all 75 guests that would be attending their party.

The host also decided to buy all the china and silverware for the party.

They had out of town family that they had not seen in years and for two days prior to the party they were all (the visiting family) permanent fixtures in the kitchen b/c the host needed help chopping and mixing and preparing food.

The host did not rent linens, glassware or get help until two days prior to the event. They hired a caterer that in their minds would just reheat their food. Well, not all catering companies specialize in reheating. They are good at cooking and serving their own food more so because they know their timing. Not someone elses. It wasn't a total disaster or anything. But, you could tell they were out of their element. I felt bad for them because they were frustrated and they didn't like that their name was printed on their shirts! You could tell.

The buffet was set-up in the dining room. Because the hosts never entertain they didn't realize that the table didn't need to be extended with three leaves. They could have stacked dishes on crates (hidden under linens) and done a much smaller table that was easier to maneuver around. You know like a tablescape.

They also set up the dishes where you had to walk past the table then come back and get in line for food. The flow was horrible.

Instead of spending 45 to 60 dollars on renting good silverware they bought it at Wal-mart. The tongs were so dull that you couldn't even pick up lettuce with it. Now they also get to store that silverware and the 84 place settings of dishes they ended up with (which includes sugar and creamer and serving bowls in each set) So they have 7 of all the serving pieces. Again for the money they could have rented high end.

Oh and the best comment was that it took them nine hours to wash all the dishes. No kidding! That's why renting is worth it sometimes. To spend a work day washing dishes is a waste of your day in my opinion. But, they also waited until two days before the party. When they had a list of items to shop for and start prepping for meal wise.

Because they were in a frenzy they forgot flowers. This was a big party for their daughters birth/dedication and also a celebration of their new house and a business. So imagine a dining table that was flat, big, and lined up with food on a dull white cloth that didn't even have a candle or a flower. Flowers are not the end of the world obviously. But, I know they regretted not just ordering them and having them delivered if nothing else.

At one point during the party I looked up to see the host who was still in jeans and a ratty t-shirt (it was a cocktail attire party) peppering dishes of food and adding olive oil. Clearly she wanted the food to taste good. But, at some point it's time to mingle and enjoy your guests. It doesn't make for a fun party when guests watch the host running around. She ran out of time getting so much ready herself she never got to change. It was sad because they have her in jeans and her husband in shorts in family photos where everyone is in shirts, ties, and dresses.

I can't get on my soapbox enough about the topic of cooking for a large crowd. It's not always easy. If you are not skilled with time management then it's not something that should be done. Also, I truly felt that my friend wanted everyone to walk away saying how awesome her food was. Secretly I think she wanted validation for her cooking. Which we all know she is a good cook. I wish she had handed over the recipes to the catering company and let them prepare the meal.

I felt bad for them in the end because they didn't

a. enjoy their party

b. visit with guests enough. Some guests flew in for this party.

c. have a party where their guests walked away saying how much fun it was. As a guest I think we all took on the stress of seeing the hosts running around.

In the end hot dogs and hamburgers would have been better if it meant a relaxing party. Even the bar was ridiculous b/c they insisted on making sangria themselves. All night they kept going out to the bartender adding sugar or whatever else they thought it needed.

I wanted to share. I know some of the people that post on here will probably recognize what went wrong and what could have been better.

But, to make it clear as a guest I as well as my husband were the perfect guests. We mingled. We raved over the food. We never once gave a clue that we were dying inside for our friends wishing that we could do something. But, after an initial "Is there anything we can do to help" (after doing what I could for two days from vacation and arriving home to help that day) we were told to go and enjoy ourselves. We were guests we were told. So we did so.

I hope this will serve as a guide or make people think next time we have a post on here where someone that doesn't entertain at all posts that they want to host a backyard soiree!


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Good grief.

The more I read this site, the less inclined I am to have ANYONE over to my house, for fear my skills or style will be judged.

Who cares already? Seriously. If you were the perfect guest you claim to be you wouldn't be going off on how awful your hosts did on this generous event. You would have jumped in to help rather than the obligatory "can I do anything" question - of course a frazzled host is going to say "oh, just go enjoy yourself." Pleaaaaaase. If you're so miserable, DO something about it in the moment!!

It all just sounds so phony and snobby -

Give me a bag of chips, a coffee table to put my shoed feet on and a circle of friends who love to laugh, and I'd go for that over any of these snotty affairs any day.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 12:00PM
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From what you have said....the hosts were all about the food and not at all about "the Party". They didn't know what to do to make a party....they cooked and made food and that was pretty well it. Am I right?
And i also know several people who are all about the house and the table and they forget that food is also an element as is that unknown quality of graciousness.....showing guests a good time.
For a really good party, the surroundings should be at least attractive if nor knock out fabulous....and the hostess relaxed and involved enough to mingle and not be racing around like a headless chicken....and the food should be good if not fabulous.
If you can pull it all together....then you will have a good party!
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 12:02PM
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Amyfiddler I don't get your attitude at all. This post was simply to help others b/c we constantly on this board talk about why you shouldn't take on entertaining for large crowds if it's not a skill. It had nothing to do with the guests in this situation. It was more about the hosts that didn't get to enjoy themselves. Which was really sad considering they had family and freinds from all over the country that they had not seen in years!

Linda as always you are dead on. Again though I don't think the food would have been that important if the people there could have enjoyed visiting with their hosts. It was disappointing to miss out on spending time with them for so many.

I wish they had been better prepared maybe. Or not taken on so much. Entertaining is work! Sometimes it's worth it to just let it go and let others deal with it. Cooking for 75 people is work. They didn't even have double ovens to heat that food. It was definitely a stressful job I think for the caterers.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 3:25PM
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I think, though, that maybe you are reading too much into what you think went wrong with the party. Maybe the hosts did enjoy themselves; maybe they didn't want flowers, maybe they planned on wearing jeans and shorts. Obviously the party was a flop from your standpoint; but maybe they thought it was a hit.

The fact that they served their own food, bought items instead of rented them (how do you know they didn't want the items to use again) doesn't really seem like it should be anyone's concern but theirs. Who really cares if the serving untensils and dishes are cheap?

There are always ideas you can come up with after a party (like about the table, etc), but really it doesn't sound like anything was all that bad about the party. How are they suppose to learn what works and what doesn't unless they entertain?

Your comment...
"I can't get on my soapbox enough about the topic of cooking for a large crowd. It's not always easy. If you are not skilled with time management then it's not something that should be done".

I don't know; I just don't agree with that statement. Just because someone is not Martha Stewart and doesn't have a lot of experience doesn't mean they can't entertain, even on a large scale. I too think you are just being too picky. Granted you gave some ideas for people to think about, but since each person's situation is so specific, I'm not really sure many of them are usable ideas.

I certainly wouldn't want anyone picking apart any of my parties like you have ...sometimes I don't put out enough hand towels in the bathroom, or I might not have enough chairs in the living room. Maybe even I overcooked the carrot casserole, forgot to put out the butter or I used cheap plastic forks for the kid's b-day cake, etc....I would just hate to have someone pick apart everything I did that wasn't perfect.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 4:18PM
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Oh sorry I should add they said they were miserable. My friend called afterwards and was upset she didn't get to change.

Also, they were battling not paying the caterer in the end because they didn't want to pay for the service.

I should add I do this for a business. So I guess when I am sitting back and see what went wrong it is hard for me. Especially when they didn't want help then call me two days before begging for it. If they were a client I would have fired them along the way! :)

It was not picking it apart. Good grief. It was an example of what you should think about before you take on a lot!

Also, you are right Carla (which your response is exactly what I knew it would be because you are always the devils advocate on here) that it shouldn't matter that they purchased all the dishes and silverware. My point was that for less money you can rent. Don't have to store. Don't have to wash it before hand and then have a caterer that you fight with b/c they didn't wash it. They don't wash dishes as caterers for that number. It gets rinsed and returned.

I disagree with you about people being able to entertain large groups. It's not easy. It is time consuming. People take on so much when they try to do it all.

I also don't agree with you that my suggestions were not useful for others. If someone wants to buy dishes for 84 ppl. Just keep in mind you can't wash them that day! It's going to take 9 hours with two people to wash and dry or at least 4 hours to put it all in the dishwasher.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 4:40PM
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I see what ilovepink is saying, and why.

She isn't trashing or judging her friends. It sounded to me like she felt sorry for them and behaved graciously. Rather, she is passing on advice based on experience. Her overall point is very good: when entertaining, don't bite off more than you can chew, or not only will you not have a good time, your guests won't, either. Take an honest look at your time frame and number of guests and ask yourself if you REALLY have the experience to pull it off without professional help. As lindac often reminds us, entertaining is about giving your guests a good time, not showing off your great cooking, decorating, or whatever, and hosts who focus too much on "everything being perfect" rather than their guests' ease are setting themselves up for a failed party -- even if everything DOES turn out "perfectly." As for things like buying vs. renting dishes, I certainly didn't read that as slamming her friends, but as giving us good advice in case we are ever in a similar situation.

amyfiddler, I, too, am confused by your post. You wrote,
"The more I read this site, the less inclined I am to have ANYONE over to my house, for fear my skills or style will be judged." But then you conclude, "It all just sounds so phony and snobby - Give me a bag of chips, a coffee table to put my shoed feet on and a circle of friends who love to laugh, and I'd go for that over any of these snotty affairs any day."

With all due respect, it sounds to me like *you* are the one being judgmental. Is there only right way to entertain, and anything else is a "snotty affair" given by someone "phony" or "snobby"? Is that what you have called your friends who have served you dinner, not just a bag of chips?

Both small, casual gatherings and big, formal events can be fun, and given by perfectly nice people -- not just "slobs" or "snobs." And you know what? Both formal and casual parties can be relaxed for both hosts and guests -- and both can be stressful and awkward. lindac knows the secret: it isn't the type of party, it's the attitude of the hosts.

And I think that's all that ilovepink was saying. She was giving us an example of hosts being too focused on the wrong things, and wearing themselves out so much by not getting enough help and/or preparing far enough ahead that not only couldn't they enjoy their own party, they made their guests uncomfortable, too, and detracted from their own party. What a shame, after all that work and expense.

She isn't hurting the hosts; we don't know them, and they presumably don't know about this post. I for one appreciate ilovepink's taking the time to share her observations. We all want our parties to succeed, and we can all learn from stories like this.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 5:16PM
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Well, just playing the devil's advocate here, but maybe your post would have seemed less judgemental if you would have said something like this....

I just went to a friend's party and here are some ideas I came up with...

1) If you are not used to having big parties be sure to plan way ahead. It is harder than you think.

2) Don't try to cook all the food yourself for big events; it's just too much. Hire a caterer; they do it for a business and know how it's to be done. Plus, you won't have to be bothered with the food at the last minute and can spend more time with your guests.

3) Consider renting dishes, linens, etc. Not only can you get a better quality, but you won't be left with the work of washing everything and storing it.

4) Be sure to factor in some time to change outfits; you don't want to get stuck in your jeans when the guests are arriving.

5) Think about ordering flowers; it really does make a table look nicer.

6) Be sure to set up your rooms and tables so they flow well with the food and people can get by.

7) And, by all means, if you have a friend who does party planning for a living, use her or ask her advice way before a couple days ahead. Otherwise she may feel shafted and will pick apart everything about your party. (Sorry, I just couldn't resist)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 5:24PM
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Pink...I have done it many times. Always with either a co host or hostess....sometimes more than one...sometimes my daughter and DIL.
I don't rent china nor silver...I have and store my own. Granted there are several patterns of white china plates and at least 2 maybe 3 patterns opf sterling....but it's all MINE! LOL! And I love having it!
But....you sure do need to have your wits about you....know the traffic flow, have back up coolers and atleast 2 ovens and a micro....and plan the food carefully. Plan the food around serving dishes you have...biiig platters and bowls. Plan the food with what needs to be kept very hot and what can beserved at room temperature. Layout your table days before with the serving pieces you will use....then remove the dishes and place a note in their place so a kitchen helper will know just where the carrots go without having to ask.
Order your centerpiece a week before and be sure you have candles to match....and backup candles should one or more candle turn out to be a dud.
Then allow time for the host and hostess to get dressed....a caterer can be wonderful help, but if you know what you are doing. not necessary....a highschool girl that knows your kitchen works very well.
As for taking 9 hours to wash the dishes? nonsense! My dishwasher will nole easily 25 to thirty plates....and I run one load while I am picking up and scraping the rest of the dishes....then run another while I wash glasses and put the 3rd load of plates in and head for bed.
There is a lot of stuff to put away in the morning and usually more glasses to wash, but it's surprisingly easy!

But you don't try to do Chareaubriand for 75 in a home kitchen, nor a salad that has to have something peeled at the last minute....and certainly not sangria unless you have a walk-n refrigerator full of it already mixed up!
Sounds like the hosts and hostess had no idea what they were getting into and what they had hoped would be a lovely party turned out to be a hectic stressful evening for all concerned.
And to Amyfiddler....I can just see 75 of my closest friends being invited to a special celebration and sitting around on the floor with their feet on the coffee table eating chips.
First of all, in my house there wouldn't be enough room on the coffee table for more than 5 pair of feet!
No doubt...a relaxed hostess makes for the best party! And in order to be relaxed you have to have everything planned down to a gnat's a$$.
I have another funeral lunch tomorrow... ( I am co -ordinator for my church) and only 40 are expected and it's only going to be small sandwiches, cookies, fruit on a pick and tea and coffee.....but I have everything planned out, who does what, where the plates go how much coffee to make etc...
So it will be a breeze.
Yep! Planning....and really....a good hostess always knows what she can do for spur of the moment unplanned events..
Drop in at 5 for dinner all 6 of you....I'll get a nice meal on the table by 6:15...and give you wine and cheese to eat while I cook.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 5:42PM
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I like Carla's suggestion - the original post seemed too personal and more like it was posted for the alternative motive of venting than it did as a genuine teaching moment.

I can see why gellcom would be confused. I should clarify - I think that all the standing back, arms folded, critical nature of picking apart a host's skill set is silly. That is the piece I find snobby etc.

I have been to formal affairs, and i've been to redneck style functions, and based on this type of feedback (which i find often on this site relating to poor hostesing -) I am certainly less inclined to invite people over. Now, it's not going to stop me by any means! In some areas, I lack skills. In some areas, I don't - no one leaves my house feeling like I don't care about them. They might get yucky food on plastic plates, yes even the huge functions I throw - However, I will most likely be more careful that the people I invite will only be people who know me, love me, and won't be typing a memoire of all my social failings online the following week. LOL!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 7:04PM
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ilovepink, thanks for the insight. Very good post!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 11:52PM
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carla35, I see what you are saying. But I think ilovepink was doing more than giving a list of entertaining tips (yours is very good, by the way). She is showing what the effect is of NOT doing those things.

It's certainly good advice to say "If you are not used to having big parties be sure to plan way ahead. It is harder than you think." But she gave an illustration of what happened when someone didn't. Many people (including me) understand and remember better what they learn through a story of a real experience than what they learn just as abstract principles. If you tell me that you shouldn't use dish soap in a dishwasher, I may remember, but I definitely won't forget if you tell me about the time your friend had an avalanche of suds in her kitchen!

Think about the stories people tell on these forums about, e.g., not assigning tables at a big party or failing "to RSVP." Certainly the stories sound judgmental of the posters' friends, and I suppose that they are. But it is learning of how the omission made people FEEL and how it affected the party that helps the reader understand WHY it is important.

If you know something in your plans would detract from your party and people would notice, wouldn't you prefer adjusting your plans over simply declaring your friends judgmental snobs?

I reread the original post, and I don't think it's fair to describe either the post or her behavior at the party itself as "standing back, arms folded, critical nature of picking apart a host's skill set." She offered to help, both in advance and at the time, she followed the hosts' lead in backing off, she raved about the food and helped the party succeed as best she could. She felt bad for her friends. I don't think she posted here to trash them to us -- why would we care? -- but to share knowledge born of experience, so we won't make the same mistakes her friends did.

Even if she is being judgmental, she is being judgmental about someone who isn't reading this and won't be hurt by it. Whereas she IS reading the comments here that are attacking her motives and her tone.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 9:58AM
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I agree with what gellchom said as usual! I'll make one additional point.

amyfiddler said, "If you were the perfect guest you claim to be you wouldn't be going off on how awful your hosts did on this generous event. You would have jumped in to help rather than the obligatory "can I do anything" question "

I beg to differ with that. As hostess, there are certain times I want help and certain things I want help with. But there are also some things I prefer NOT to be helped with. Having someone rush in to do something when I've said No thanks is NOT being the perfect guest. As hostess, if I need help with things I'm never shy about asking -- and I assume when I'm guest at someeone's house that they aren't either. If they are, I can't help that. Because once I ask and the answer is no, I would never feel comfortable insisting. Or for that matter, presuming someone wanted me to do something and taking it upon myself to do it.

I'll give an example of this. At a recent party I had, I was in the kitchen and accidentally knocked several canned drinks from the kitchen counter onto the floor. Well, a few of them mildly exploded causing spills & sprays of sticky soda. Immediately a few people came to see what happened, and offered to help. Well, I'm pretty picky about my kitchen clean up (how it's done, what towels to use, etc.) and I wanted to handle it by myself. It involved a framed picture, my floors, my fridge, my cabinets, a rug.... And I just didn't feel comfortable with anyone else cleaning all that up.

So I just said No to offers of help. Fortunately my friends know me well enough to know that I meant it and they didn't push it. According to you, the "perfect guest" would have come in and begun cleaning without a word. That would NOT have been ok with me, although I would have been obligated to accept the help if I couldn't convince her that I didn't need it.

It took me maybe about 5-7 minutes to clean it up, got my kitchen back in order with little fuss and all was well. Perfect guests? The ones who offered but took NO for an answer.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 11:42AM
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Makes sense for a specific situation.

I still say, where there are an excess of expectations, there is more likely a situation where peoples' noses get bent out of shape.

IMO life is too short to sweat the small stuff. Get together! Large and small groups! Enjoy! Don't fuss over this and that. What's the point anyway? I understand that many of the readers on this topic are proponents of proper etiquette and such, but I'm saying that such attitudes limit your ability to sit back and just enjoy the company of others without getting panties all in a wad over "what dishes did she use?" and "did she clean her bathroom to my expectations" and "did they or didn't they offer to help" or heaven forbid "did they remove their shoes" -

We can't see the forest for the trees at some point- the point of get togethers is to get together! Not to create problems over the little stuff. I've picked on the op here, but in actuality it is simply an attitude that I see reflected in so many posts here- and it concerns me a bit.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 12:18PM
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Nancy zone 6

If one sifts through everything, there are a lot of great hints for entertaining here. I don't entertain a lot, I can see myself making some of those mistakes. Years ago I worked as a server for a caterer, so I know some of the problems you don't always think about-such as how a buffet can be set up-traffic flow. I can see myself thinking it might be cheaper to buy inexpensive china & linens, not considering the laundering, washing, & storage. Especially if it is a one time deal. For me it would be impossible to carry out this type of entertaining successfully without catering.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 2:20PM
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I expect the best of my self...I try to do the best I can at everything I do. I know there are somethings at which I am no good at all ( like tennis!) and have learned to accept this, but I would never ask an excellent tennis player to be my partner just for the pleasure of my company.
I expected my kids to do their best and I expect people I work with to do their best...because I try hard to make everything I do the best within the limits of my ability.
Now obviously there are somethings which to me are not important at all....like putting "tire shine" on the wheels of my car or being sure every blade of grass in my lawn was the same variety. Those things are not important to me, but I love to look at your beautiful lawn and I admire your beautifully detailed car. And I also love to give and to attend a great party!
Amyfiddler, if I went to your home for a party and you served me yucky food off of plastic plates as you said, I would not go again. If I wanted the pleasure of your company I would invite you to my house, where you would be served delicious food from a China plate and with a sterling knife and fork.
If that is being snobby, then so be it. I think of it as having respect for my guests and wanting them to enjoy their meal at my home. Yes the point is to get together and enjoy each other's company, but I don't enjoy yucky food nor disposable plates, and I really don't enjoy a party where the host/hostess tries to do something for which she is unprepared. I sure don't enjoy a party where the hostess is so stressed out they are running around checking this and adding to that.
This whole post is about how to be a good host. How to make a party that is enjoyable for your guests. And, I think most of us are in agreement that a relaxed host, in control ( or at least feigning control!) is key!
If the only way you can feel relaxed while entertaining is to serve yucky food from plastic and your friends like that too...well good for you.
My friends love a candle lit room, a littls Harry Connick, a nice wine, or good scotch, good food and nice conversation without a hostess who seems to be stressed out.
My advice is do the kind of entertaining of which you are capable. If your style is hot dogs and a keg on the deck, go for it! If you can do a sit down for 8 with ease, choose a manu that will allow you to enjoy your self and foods that you cook well, if you are doing a buffet for 75 and cooking it all yoursefl....you sure better know what you are doing....and get help if you don't.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 6:32PM
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All I can say is wow.


What if I made a mistake and ran out of plates? What if I put cinnamon on the potato salad on accident insead of the pimento? What if I'm a human being?

Please listen to the message - the message is, there is too much arrogance, too much looking down the nose at imperfect hostesses! What if I decide to go out on a limb and try - and I make a zillion mistakes. Should i be hung out to dry? What if I wanted to try, so I invite only my close friends whom I trust dearly...and the food ends up crummy? My point is, should those close friends who claim to be perfect guests then turn around and lamblast me behind my back because *what I don't know won't hurt me?*

I see hypocracy in its finest. To say "I am the epitome of fine entertaining" and yet to then gripe about others imperfections -once out of sight- is, in my opinion, low class and without an ounce of etiquacy(sp?) - it undoes all the china and fine silver servings in one fell swoop.

By the way, I'm a great cook. I only made that cinnamon mistake once, and my mom loved it anyway. LOL :)

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 8:55PM
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Well, I think if you are yourself a professional at something, then you have every right to say "This is what I saw done, and why it didn't work- here is a better way" as a way of informing others who might be contemplating something similar. It's not snobbish at all. Snobbish would be simply saying, "Well, they don't know how to entertain" and leaving it at that.
They do say "Learn from the mistakes of others- you don't have time to make them all yourself." The dislike of the WalMart forks was not that they were from WalMart, but that they didn't perform the function they were required for- picking up food. The recommendation to hire all the dishes, tableware, glasses etc, is that for the price they cut down a lot on work for the hosts, you get better quality pieces and you don't have to store them. If you were going to entertain a lot, then of course buy all your stuff- it's more environmentally responsible than disposables, works better (the plates won't collapse or leak and the forks/knives work) and lends a little more elegance to the proceedings. But I suspect the hosts of Pink's party have been so frazzled by their first experience that they will never entertain on that scale again and so will never use all that stuff they now have to find a space for.
As for the hosts not changing- while it is no sin to entertain in jeans and t-shirt, and Pink never said this, all the guests were in cocktail attire and I'd bet serious money that the hosts were internally upset that they had not had time to change, and were uncomfortable that they didn't "fit in", especially as they were the ones who chose the dress code, they didn't get to actually socialise much with their guests, and they were totally stressed and so the time they did get to spend with their guests would have been coloured by that stress. If the point of giving a party is to enjoy the company of your friends, it doesn't seem like the hosts in this case got to do that, and instead were effectively the unpaid help at a party they paid for for others to enjoy but not them. How depressing that must have been for them.
Pink did say in her original post "In the end hot dogs and hamburgers would have been better if it meant a relaxing party." So she didn't say, "If you are giving a party it has to be haute cuisine on china with silver." It's not an issue of snobbery, it's an issue of overextending yourself not just a little, but so much that really no-one, most of all yourself, has a good time.
Pink hasn't "hung [her friend] out to dry", - we don't know who she is and I doubt this is a topic for discussion among Pink and the other partygoers. The story has been presented as a "here are the traps for young players" warning. If Pink's friend asked Pink "How could I make the next party easier?" no doubt Pink will be able to tell her diplomatically, but I wouldn't be surprised if Pink's friend has been so scarred by an unhappy experience she won't host another large party. And that's sad.
There are horses for courses- a relaxed informal meal, large formal parties. Each has its own set of criteria which go to create a successful event. If the host accidentally used cinnamon instead of pimento, it's not a disaster, it's one small thing and everyone will have a little laugh together. Everyone will enjoy the party. But if the host is constantly running around stressed out and fixing things that went wrong, not enjoying their guests and the guests worrying about the hosts' stress levels, that IS a disaster and few people will have a really enjoyable time, unless they are heartless.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 1:29AM
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Colleenooz! THANK YOU!

You hit it on the head.

It was not the guests that asked for cocktail attire or decided it on their own after reading the invite. It stated it clearly.

I thought when I posted this it would help others in their quest for entertaining. It was an example of this is what can go wrong when you take on more than you can handle.

I've been on this board for a long time. We see so many posts especially this time of year where people who have never entertained attempt to do a payback type party where they invite all the people over they have been guests of. I thought by giving examples: Don't buy silverware for 100 ppl for cheap when it doesn't work very well but instead spend the money at a rental house and don't have to clean it before or after. Plus, you will not store it. And people could pick up lettuce with it.

Since we are all just names on a board I didn't feel this was bad to post. My intentions were good. I hit a nerve with some posters and I am guessing it's because I talked aobut something where it reminded posters of something they did? I don't know.

I never talked about this with another guest. I had guests say to me that the friends should have hired me. I would laugh it off and say what a great party it was and how nice that they were seeing everyone.

I'm sorry so many people were upset. Again my post was only meant to help others. It's not like I said this to the hosts!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 5:35PM
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Pink....only 2 posters were in any way critical of your post....the rest of us agreed with your premise that when the guests bite off more than they can comfortably chew, no one has a good time.
Your message was right on!
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 10:10PM
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I meant when the hosts bite off more than they can chew....
proofreading are NOT us!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 10:12PM
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Ilovepink, I understood the intent of your post, too.

I am not a fan of those "payback" parties where everyone is invited--you should hear what Sally Quinn calls them!
(It's not nice, but actually quite accurate!)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 11:07PM
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Pink- I passed "Reading for comprehension" :-D I knew what you meant. But some poeple as you stated do seem to get very defensive - I think it's a kind of reverse snobbery myself.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 6:49AM
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Well you should know all about reverse snobbery, shouldn't you ---LOL :-)

"To Thine Own Self Be True"

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 3:14PM
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colleenoz, "reverse snobbery" was the term that came to my mind, too.

I, too, am puzzled by the apparent need of some people who only like to entertain informally to insult the values and motives of those who entertain more formally and/or lavishly.

I want to stress that I think BOTH types of entertaining are not only acceptable, they are both GREAT! I like to dress up in a party dress, eat fabulous food, and dance to a great band. I also love to put my feet up on the coffee table and eat chips or pizza with a few close friends.

I do notice that I never hear people who give large, lavish parties criticize people who give small, informal ones with bitter invective. But I hear the reverse, as here. Amyfiddler, please forgive me for using your words as an example, but why was it necessary to use words like "snotty affair"? Why is something "snotty" just because it is large or expensive? I hear people who entertain casually (SOME -- not all) call others "snobs" or "show offs," but I never hear people who entertain lavishly call others "cheapos" or "hillbillies" or something.

Honestly, I only hear the insults in one direction, and I don't think it's because one group is nicer than the other. I can think of two explanations. First, I think that it is somehow more PC to insult people for formality and lavishness than for informality and simplicity. Second, I think some people feel insecure about their own entertaining and comfort themselves by deriding the values and motives of anyone who does it differently. That's childish, and it's mean.

If hosts give a more expensive or elaborate party than we do, why assume that they are doing so to show off? Maybe they are just trying to share their good fortune or cooking skills and give their guests a wonderful time. These are our friends! Give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 3:19PM
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I can not answer for amyfiddler, but I can for myself (being that I think I was the only other one who thought the original poster was being a little too picky, and then I was personally insulted by her; I think a couple times --- and no, I was not overly sensitive to the post because I made the same mistakes - sorry, try again).

Anyway, let me start by saying that my crystal is Waterford (gold rimmed and NOT that cheap Marquis stuff)), I have two sets of fine China (one gold rimmed to match the Waterford!), 2 sets of sterling silver (although one is stilll at moms) and a huge Lladro collection. My wedding probably cost more than some of your houses and Miss Manners is one of my biggest heroes. I could very easily be considered a snob. Sometimes I entertain formally but usually it's less formal. Never do big parties because I don't want to, and we have enough money to do them elsewhere. And, Yes, I know I am defensive and argumentative; I come from a family of lawyers/judges.

I have rubbed elbows with some very weathly people (One of my good friend's dad owns a 80 million dollar yacht). And, it's just one of three! I posted a link for it below if anyone wants to see. You could never tell she had money if you met her...THAT'S what makes her so special and classy, IMHO. She has never looked down on any class or person; never laughed at a wedding mostaccioli dinner or rolled her eyes because a table linen was paper. Many of her good friends are less than wealthy.

What I've come to see is that money has nothing to do with real class and real manners. Manners are about respect and kindness..not how elaborate a party is or isn't or how well it turns out. Some people simply can't afford to entertain as others can, some may just really not know any better, and still some (even wealthy people) may just really want to have a BBQ picnic on plastic plates. That's their perogative. Anyway, I'm not going to write them off or overly critique them if they are my good friends. And, I am going to be able to overlook a faux pas especially if it may be based on financial restrants, or inexperience. It may just be me (because generally my friends are wealthier), but I hear a lot more comments making fun of the less fortunate rather than the other way around.

I love formal parties so I know I was not attacking the OP because of this reverse snobbery you're talking about. Come on, I read Miss Manners' books for fun! It was more the tone of her post about a 'friend's' party I didn't like. I do generally know what you are talking about, though, gellcom.... People that think they don't have to write thank you notes or RSVP, etc ...yes, they bother me with their "it's just snobbish" way of thinking. But I don't think this post is anything like that.

What also cracks me up about this thread is how many people have that new wealth attitude. Am I the only one that notices that the 'old wealth' and the real wealthy people don't always go around showing their wealth? The wealthiest and classiest people I know often have the most casual parties, don't dress in name brand clothes, etc. They don't feel the need to always impress. It's the "I want to be wealthy" types that seem to always have to show off...flowers have to be perfect, etc.. Is it reverse snobbery that I notice/think this way? Maybe. Maybe that's your answer, I prefer the old wealth way of thinking. Sadly, I have resorted to becoming like the nouveau riche myself to prove my point and brag about my wealth, but generally, I do prefer to live so that no one knows how much money I have. Odd, maybe, but that's me.

I guess the bottom line is everyone has their own idea of what class is and what snobbery is and what manners are all about. I'm sure no two people have ever agreed on all points....one man's rude belch is another man's thank you for dinner...guess it's just all in perspective and I guess we're just all learning a little more everyday; I know I am.

Here's that yacht...I am sooo jealous!!! She just got back from a trip on it in Greece.

Here is a link that might be useful: LindaLou

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 7:05PM
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Anazing!! You have that gold rimmed Waterford?? The Lismore pattern? How lucky are you!! I have that pattern but it doesn't have the gold rim and I only have a very few pieces. Do you have service for 8?!
And 2 sets of fine china? Wow!! You must be very rich!
And you actually KNOW someone who owns a yacht like you sent the link to? Most of those are owned by corporations and you actually KNOW someone who's father owns 3 such yachts? I thought I knew some rich people, but obviously nothing like the people you know!!
If you know that sort of people and have 2 sets of fine china and 2 sets of sterling and an extensive collection of Lladro, you must really have an amazing background in the arts! Do you prefer the Nao or the high porcelain pieces?
I don't have a huge Lladro collection, only about 8 or 10 seasonal pieces that I use at holidays, but I do love it.
And you are so right....talk of money and posessions really shows a lack of good taste in my opinion. I was always taught that polite people don't talk about what things cost or what kind of posessions they own.
You are so very right about everyone having their own ideas on what constitutes class, education and good manners.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 10:15PM
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You do realize, don't you, that carla's point was to debunk the theory that those of us pointing out the problems with the OP had to be reverse snobbery, which would insinuate low class. This accusation was made in attempt to nullify Carla's (and my) opinions - Carla is saying, 'your theory is incorrect, thus my opinion is valid.'

This is what you call a good old fashioned female catfight, where we are tearing each others' hair out over minute details which do not actually exist.

I will admit the following. I made the original accusation of twisted motives, but I was prejudiced by the overabundance (my opinion) of overly critical guests on this site. Had I seen this OP without the prejudice, I might have let it alone. I should not have spoken up without first stating my prejudice against complaining guests. I apologize that I hurt the OP's feelings and that I used the word 'snob', as that ruffled feathers and we never solve anything when we get peoples' defenses up.

Let me go back in time, and re write an initial response to the original post.

"It sounds like from your point of view that the party was a failure. I have thrown more parties than most people I know, and I will admit that your post gives me pause. I am the first to admit that I have made many a mistake in my hostessing of my many events - and I'm sure that I have not lived up to every guest's total expectations. Your post makes me wonder for the first time ever....I wonder how many times people have walked away thinking I have no business throwing a party. The question is, will that stop me? No, honestly. I'm pretty confident, maybe even a bit narcissitic that way. I just assume that the good that comes from my less than perfect functions out does the bad, and many people still talk about the fun we've had over the years - I do wonder though, if there wouldn't be more parties and more fun and more get togethers if people who were just as imperfect as I didn't have to wonder if when they threw a party that people were critical of their faults - that would be a shame.

To anyone out there who is thinking - ah, just one more reason NOT to throw a party, my skills just aren't those of a professional - or anyone thinking "I just can't try because I am imperfect"...I say GO for it. You will offend some, you will have others who pretend, and there will be those who never point out you faults to anyone, not even on a board. Those people will consistenly come around, and when you are old, you will never be lonely.

Moral: throw more parties. We need each other, and what better way to spend a friday night than with tons of friends who really care about each other -!"

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 10:54PM
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I have hosted parties for groups ranging from 6-200 with great success. You can host large parties by yourself but you have to know yourself and limits. It is a lot of work but it is doable if you are organized and prepare. Lists and three ring binders are KEY!

We own dishes, linens, flatware and glasses for 100. They aren't high end but they are nice, we own them, they have paid for themselves many times over. Honestly I don't think our friends care.

We create a menu that showcases one or two special items and use less difficult dishes to fill it in. This time of year we host an apple harvest brunch for nearly 100 friends using apples from our tree. Many of our dishes are prepared a day or two before and we simply heat and serve. Easy!

If you use the dishwasher it takes hours but I wash by hand with a couple of girlfriends or my husband and it takes us an hour to wash and dry plates and flatware and we air dry glasses.

If I have a budget for a party that allows for extras-I always get cleaners to come into the house AFTER the party. I don't mind giving the house an extra scrub before a party but I love putting up my feet after a party.

We've been to very casual backyard BBQs by families on fixed incomes that were just as delightful as some black tie affairs that we attended where the word budget did not exist.

A gracious host who isn't stressed sets the whole mood.

In the end my best advice is to start small and work your way up. I now feel comfortable entertaining up to 200 for a buffet and up to 24 for a sit down meal. I started with doing lunches for one friend as a time, moved on to tea parties, large parties for our children, and once hosted an engagement party for 200 with no help!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2007 at 12:17AM
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Having been to both formal and informal parties I can say that I have overheard negative comments and witnessed poor behavior at both. I've heard women at casual get togethers complaining about napkins, beer and wine choice, decorations, food, etc.just as I have at formal events.

I have been to beautiful formal events and formal events that in my opinion were given only as a means of "showing off wealth" and felt "snotty". I have seen hosts treat guests poorly for not "appreciating" an expensive bottle of wine (at one event DH spoke with the host privately to let her know the bottle of wine had been opened improperly and was full of cork. She never did apologize to her guest for her rude comments.)

You can't really make sweeping generalizations. I come from humble origins but was taught grace, dignity, and manners by my grandmother. I was a scholarship student as a very "old money" college where I received a wonderful education. I am also blessed to have many very wealthy and generous friends. I feel comfortable speaking with people younger, older, with less money, more money, etc.

We once had a Halloween party for the kids and received a scathing letter from a neighbor complaining about our outdoor decorations (they were up for three days.) She called us several unkind names. She later heard from a neighbor that my FIL (who plays with the London Symphony Orchestra) would be giving a performance at our Christmas party. She actually called me and asked to be invited saying she was sorry she had thought so poorly of us and didn't realize what "kind of people " we truly were, that we were "her type" after all. I didn't offer an invitation but did send her a handwritten note explaining how disappointed I was that she couldn't tolerate Halloween decorations for three days for the sake of our four children and the neighborhood children who attended.

Don't judge a book by its cover or a hostess by her china.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2007 at 1:19AM
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Having just had a shower where 17 people RSVP'd and 34 showed up for lunch in our newly remodeled house, I would have to say that its much easier to criticize other people's mistakes than it is to understand how they happen. I did have a problem of not being dressed and lovely until a little after the start. Why? We had people show up an hour early, waltz into the kitchen and look into the refrig. We had champagne out and appetizers but they wanted something else.
I baked the dessert, angel food cupcakes and devil's food cupcakes. My husband and I made the rest of the food for lunch which was Chinese dim sum plus Chinese chicken salad, sliced tropical fruit,etc. Everything was gone, so I guess it was good, but it was a trickier menu to prepare & serve than I had thought.
Every event that I have, I make lists of how much people drank, ate, who showed up, etc. That way if you make mistakes, miscalculate on what people like to drink or eat, your records are there to improve next time. This party we went through 12 bottles of champagne, 4 sparking cider, and several 6 packs of coke, perrier and water. Seemed like a lot for only 34, and they were a young group, but now I know for next time.
Personally I never worry about doing things "wrong" but I sure do change my guest lists. I have an absolute rule. If I see that somebody is critical and complaining about things, I delete them from my guest list. Inevitably it is also somebody that cannot manage to invite two neighbors over for coffee but somehow they are an expert on entertaining.
I keep notebooks as well as photos of the food, the table layouts and lists of what went well and what would be an improvement.
I agree with newgardenelf that you can learn to entertain and its fun to do it. It is a major undertaking and a major expense to entertain even 34. Not many people do it, and most hostesses have a good idea of what they would do better next time. If only we were clairvoyant we would have known what some of the problems would be. Unseasonably hot or cold weather or high winds affect what & how much people eat or drink.
AmyFiddler makes a good point that after spending lots of effort, time and money it is disheartening to be a hostess and find out that people did not enjoy the party. When I am a guest, I am usually impressed they got their house clean, food prepared and served and have an agreeable and interesting group of guests who enjoyed talking with each other. That is really the point of any party or gathering.
We had a lovely group of young women for the shower, who were helpful, friendly with the others and I enjoyed meeting them. I also learned that my friends are more picky eaters than these young ladies.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2007 at 10:47PM
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I was the host for christmas last year for the first time with about 15 people. I wanted to cook all the food too. I had never done it all before and it was alot of work and I too wasn't totally ready when my guest arrived but hey it was all family and friends so they pitched in even though I didn't want them to. LOL About an hour later everything was ready set up and I was properly dressed.

I say it was a great learning experience. This year I will be much better at it. I wouldn't say anyone who isn't experienced shouldn't try it becuase what would life be like if we never tried something new. Besides if its all family and good friends they will understand. 75 people is a big endevour but I wouldn't say it can't be done by someone who isnt a professional. The key is to be organized and have a true understanding of the undertaking. If you don't and it all doesn't go perfectly then have a good attitude about and try not to stress, learn from it for next time.

I love to cook and I enjoy watching people enjoy what I have prepared. Thats part of the fun. Looking back on last year I can smile because everyone had a goodtime and I got over not being dressed to the nines with all the food and hors'douvers ready when the guest arrived. All in all I did a fantastic job for my first time out.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 3:38AM
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Fascinating discussion here, watching people veer off into different directions and then justify themselves.

I read the OP's post and thought what she was doing was a cautionary post about people who bite off more than they could chew. These hosts obviously didn't enjoy themselves or their party, which is a shame. Yes, next time maybe they'll know better. More likely, they'll turn into the "Oh, I'm NEVER going to have people over my house again, it's just so stressful and humiliating!"

For those people who are beginners at party-throwing, I think it's useful to read the OP's post to see how inexperienced hosts made the wrong decisions to make their party harder to pull off than it should have been.

I entertain a lot, and to do it well without stressing takes practice. And a lot of planning - which takes practice as well. I see nothing sarcastic or demeaning in the OP's post, but read it as a frustrated concern for her friends who had good intentions but ended up with a nightmare experience. Must have been kind of like watching the Titanic sink; at that point the deck chairs are sliding into the ocean and there's not much that can be done to save the day.

There have been plenty of people who have posted here in a panic, looking for guidance because their mouths opened up to issue invitations before their brains could halt them and whisper in their ears, 'Whoa, babe, do you know how to DO any of these things properly?!?'

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 12:37PM
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Well said JKmom! Attending a party where the hosts or hostesses are ill prepared is akin to watching someone give a speech to a gathering and discovering they don't know what to say, haven't brought notes, don't remember to turn the mike on and just stand there stammering and sweating and being uncomfortable while all others in the room are uncomfortable in sympathy. Makes for a miserable occasion for everyone.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 8:07PM
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"carla's point was to debunk the theory that those of us pointing out the problems with the OP had to be reverse snobbery, which would insinuate low class," wrote amyfiddler.

I need to clarify -- I don't at all think "reverse snobbery" is only practiced by people who have less money or other resources, and I certainly didn't mean to imply "low class." Quite the contrary; I more often hear what I would call "reverse snobbery" from people who are at least middle class and especially those who are well educated and socially conscious. I guess actually it is a manifestation of a (commendable, in my view) discomfort with the unfairness of distribution of wealth -- sort of like, "I may have money/advantages/etc., but I'm no Establishment piggie."

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 2:03PM
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Reverse snobbery is the belittling of something which you don't have or can't or won't do.
It is not only saying things like "I'm not so hoity-toity as to use candles ar dinner" or something like "What's wrong with paper plates? I can't see washing all those china dishes!"
Reverse snobbery can also take the form of saying things like.."Why would you want to play tennis every week end? What's the point of batting a ball around?" or even "yeah, she has a gorgeous figure but she doesn't eat a thing. I would rather enjoy my meals...besides who wants to hug a bag of bones?"
I have even heard things like "her and me, him and I who cares! I don't worry about things like that as long as you know what I mean." Or perhaps.."Yeah, sure her house looks like a magazine picture, but she spends enough on it to put them into the poor house. I feel sorry for her husband."
Reverse snobbery has little to do with class ( whatever that is) but it has to do with envy, or justification for your own ways.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 3:03PM
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I think you put your finger right on it, lindac. I was worried that some of the other posters felt that I was focusing on the "envy" kind. But I was thinking of the "self-justification" kind.

I.e. -- not the sour grapes of "I can't afford/don't know how to do/don't look like that, so I'm going to declare it snobby/silly/foolish," but the "I don't want to go to the trouble or expense/want to do it a different way, so I will belittle anyone who does it otherwise as tacky/snobby." I just think that that is snobbery either way.

I know it happens in both directions; I just think that somehow people think that the "reverse" kind isn't rude or judgmental, but rather an example of their own superior values -- "I don't care about how napkins are folded; I care about PEOPLE!" As if others don't. But as several posters have pointed out, it's not the type of entertaining, but the focus of the hosts on their own interests instead of their guests' pleasure and comfort that is the problem, and the point of the original post -- that can happen as easily with paper plates as with bone china.

The self-justification kind of reverse snobbery seems, IMO, to come from insecurity. Whether it is about entertaining or anything else, when we are insecure -- whether due to inexperience or uncertainty -- about our choices, we look for others to tell us that our way of doing something is RIGHT, and every other way is WRONG. When we have more confidence, we are more comfortable with the idea of there being more than one way to do things, and we no longer need any way other than ours to be WRONG to feel secure.

I have a friend who goes into speeches about how stupid baseball, crosswords, and anything else she isn't interested in/good at are. I ignore it, because I realize that it is only her insecurity talking; she is a real perfectionist and very hard on herself, so I imagine things she hasn't mastered are upsetting to her. But she would sure have a fit if anyone said that cooking with fresh herbs and drinking fine wine are wasteful and pointless. Likewise, apropos this string, she says that making a big elaborate affair out of a wedding (= anything more than elopement) is ridiculous and just trying to show off. She doesn't realize that she sounds -- and in MHO, is -- just as snobby and judgmental as someone who would criticize her entertaining style as too casual or too limited -- although I have never heard anyone do so.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 3:55PM
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Yvonne Albertyn_Brazil

I really, really appreciate this post! Last week at my husband's grandmother's funeral I volunteered to host an open house these holidays for my husband's family as a reason to get together under happier circumstances. (We've been married over 10 years, and there were many family members I didn't remember meeting.)

Last week I was full of plans... and today, I'm wondering how to pull this off.

I have a weird question... when you rent the plates, etc. does that mean you don't have to wash them before returning them?

I'll start another thread - but any and all advice and help would be much appreciated.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 5:41PM
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Evidently different rental companies do it differently, yandj. I have never heard of one that requires you to WASH the dishes. I think at most you just have to rinse them. The company I use doesn't require even that -- we just dump the food off and put the dishes, etc. back in the crates for pickup the next day. Certainly you don't need to wash the linens.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 8:52AM
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Yvonne Albertyn_Brazil

thanks, gellchom - I like the idea of stacking - even if I end up buying all the plates, glasses, etc. so no-one feels they have to do dishes.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2007 at 12:46PM
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This thread has been so interesting! You are all so great at expressing yourselves. There are lessons we all can learn. I was reading an old post "Does anyone set a pretty table any more?" about how some guests make a big deal out of it when the table is set with thought. Some appreciate it and others act insulted as if you are showing off.Thank you for putting into words both sides, really I mean that because it is helpful. To the original poster, you seem like a thoughtful friend who is being very honest

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 4:55AM
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Sounds like she wasn't prepared at all. I hope that she learns from it instead of deciding to opt out of holding huge gatherings. My comments below probably will sound really ignorant, but, believe me, I don't mean to be... it's just that I'm very bold and say things straight out.

After months of offering help when I had the time they called me three days before in a panic. I was out of town on vacation due to arrive home the day of their party.

So what did you do to help?

At one point during the party I looked up to see the host who was still in jeans and a ratty t-shirt (it was a cocktail attire party) peppering dishes of food and adding olive oil. Clearly she wanted the food to taste good. But, at some point it's time to mingle and enjoy your guests. It doesn't make for a fun party when guests watch the host running around. She ran out of time getting so much ready herself she never got to change. It was sad because they have her in jeans and her husband in shorts in family photos where everyone is in shirts, ties, and dresses.

Being a friend who was asked for help 2 days prior, why didnt you say something like "Here, let me take care of this while you go up and change. It might help to make you feel more relaxed." If she protests, I would say something like "Hey! What are friends for? This is my way of helping you out."

But, to make it clear as a guest I as well as my husband were the perfect guests. We mingled. We raved over the food. We never once gave a clue that we were dying inside for our friends wishing that we could do something. But, after an initial "Is there anything we can do to help" (after doing what I could for two days from vacation and arriving home to help that day) we were told to go and enjoy ourselves. We were guests we were told. So we did so.

You were the perfect guests. If you're a friend and were "dying inside for our friends wishing that we could do something", why didnÂt you anyways, especially since she called you two days prior.

I should add I do this for a business. So I guess when I am sitting back and see what went wrong it is hard for me. Especially when they didn't want help then call me two days before begging for it. If they were a client I would have fired them along the way! :)

Again! "call me two days before begging for it"Â what did you do? How did you help? Obviously, from what youÂve stated that was all wrong with the party, you must not have helped much. You do this for a business and youÂre a friend?

Again, I apologize if I've offended you. It is not my intent. It's just that you have failed to mention your part in this, if any... seeing that she had asked for your help. Your post was very informative. A person also needs to learn what "type" of help to ask for. Whether it be a caterer, bartender, decorator, etc.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 12:04PM
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Where I am you have to wash all the rented dishes and flatware before you return them. Linens are returned unwashed.

Everyone has had a first time. Unless you grew up in a house where large scale entertaining was done, most people need to learn by doing it. They made some mistakes and next time will do it better.

I rented flatware for my last party and won't do it again. Much easier to buy my own. I have plenty of storage space for it. I did buy the plates (clear glass) and glasses. I also didn't have flowers on the table - the table was packed with food! I also spent too much of the party doing stuff rather than enjoying my guests. But I learned a lot. After the party I made a list off all the food and drink that was consumed (the fridge was still full, I could have had another party the next day with the leftovers). I also made notes on what I would do again and what I wouldn't (primarily because it took too much time that day). I've done lots of entertaining with 15 people or so, but never 30+, so this was a learning experience. Everyone loved the food and had a great time. Next time I'll actually enjoy it with them.

I also forgot to put salt and pepper on the table, didn't put the tonic water out on the bar and had to be asked for butter. Oops. It's on the list for next time!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 2:39PM
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Sue, I have been entertaining for several decades and still take notes of everything and photos. Instead of flowers I buy plants a week ahead and that solves the problem. For my open house, I bought a little rosemary tree and decorated it with a 2008 banner for the appetiser table. For the main buffet I bought a blooming pineapple plant at Home Depot with two little pineapples. It was a hit, and I can plant it. Flowers sometimes take fussing in the winter.You can buy azalea plants way ahead. In Southern California my roses are still blooming, so if I wanted to fuss with flowers, they are out there.
I agree with you that you want a menu that enables you to have a good time also. Eventually you work out stuff that works for you. I have had parties catered and times when I want to spend the money for the party in other ways.
I did forget to light all the candles and next time before the party, I will ask a friend to light them when it gets dark. The Open house was from 3 to 7.
Every party you learn something.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 8:00PM
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I do find your post offensive.

Do not even come after me for not being a good friend. For months I tried to help them. MONTHS.

I have a business to run where clients depend on me to be there for them. It's very easy I am sure to sit behind your computer and say I should have dropped everything for them. After months I did what I could.

Once at the party as anyone knows as a guest you offer your help. If you are told no. Then you be a guest. You do not take over or step on the toes of a hostess.

I was on vacation with my family. I receive a call from the wife in a panic b/c she has figured out that the husband has bit off more than he can chew. I advised her what to do. Sent off a spreadsheet from the hotel computer of how much she needed of china, crystal, etc.,.

I suggested who to call at such a late date for catering. That is what I did.

Now my question for you is what would you have done?

Please share how you would have stepped up and done such a good job as a friend and helper. I would like to learn from you and know exactly what I should do the next time I have friends plan a party like this and wait until 48 hours ahead of time to hire help.

As for the reverse snobbery! AMEN. I don't get why people get so rude about others that choose to host parties that they pull all their china and crystal out. Or hire a caterer. I plan three major parties a year for our friends and family that are along those lines. We attend many parties in return and I would never stop to call a friend cheap, tacky, etc.,. because we had paper plates. Who does that?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 6:50PM
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I apologize for offending and thank you for your response. It's not that I expected you to drop everything for her while you were on vacation with your family. Absolutely not!

It's just that you didn't mention in your earlier posts exactly what you did to help her and I was curious to know. From what you did do... spreadsheet of info, caterer's numbers, etc.... you did all that you could do at such a late date. Her failure to take your advice is clearly her and her husband's lack of responsibility. Out of curiousity though, since you are in the business or from any other caterer, what is the deadline for reserving a caterer. Seems like 2 days before the party is way too late!

At first I thought that even if she said no, you just get up and help anyways. But on the other hand, you already gave her all the "emergency" info that she needed and she still didn't take your advice... so then be it! It's like saying... you asked me what to do, I told you what to do, you didn't listen, now look what happens! LOL Hopefully her and her husband have learned from this.

As for why people get so rude about others that choose to host parties that use china and crystal... maybe because somewhere deep inside.. there's a bit of jealousy. I don't know! I have a so-called friend who used to make snide remarks on how my house looked and such. Every time she would come over, all you'd hear is "Oh! You have such a nice house. I like this.. I like that..". I would politely say just "Thank you." She only came over when her husband did (as a couple, and I used to always wonder why. Hubby used to tell it was because she was jealous and I didn't believe that cuz I found it stupid. Now whenever she gets nice things and you go over, she takes you by the arm and gives you a tour of all her new things and tells you the price tag of each item. Who cares what you paid, as long as you like it and enjoy it. That's all that matters!

Again, sorry for the rudeness and thank you for your honest response.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 8:31PM
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ilovepink, I am that guy, I just know better then to try it.
About the hamburgers & enjoying friends.
My son wanted to have a High School Graduation party on our ten acres in the county. He wanted to have a bonfire in JUNE!
He is a eagle Scout, so the fire was not a big deal, but the heat in 90 degree weather.
He & two friends mowed the lot, I helped cut low limbs, this was an grown up field with 15' pine trees.
He & his friend bought & grilled (gas) hot dogs & hamburgers. He had 20 friends & family, we rented tables & chairs, a port-a-potty, no house on this land.
Everything went off with out a problem, a parent was a fireman said the fire management was top of the line.
He had another party in August for his birthday, it was still heat, but no one seemed to notice.
At both parties people laughed & talked while the two guys cooked & then everyone ate. As it got dark & the fire died down to coals, a teen got out a guitar & song a few song & then they talked & laughed some more.
No alcohol & everyone made it home just fine.
I am going to put in a rest room & some wooden benches/ tables, maybe a covering like the parks have.
Other then that what do I need to do to improve this county place for parties?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 9:10PM
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