A few recent threads and conversations in my social network has got me thinking about parties, potlucks, and events. Specifically, the logistics of executing hosting tasks in a fairly tasteful, fun, and drama-free manner. As we move into the wedding/party season of late spring and summer, many brides and party hosts are dealing with these issues:
“I don’t have time.”
“I would ask people to help, but I don’t know how to delegate.”
“How come potlucks always ends up being a random mix of weird foods?”
“I can’t make those cute decorations on Pinterest.”
“How can I feed a large party of people on $20?”
“I just don’t want to be a bitch/asshole.”
“Everything costs money.”
Let’s approach these issues one by one. Ready?
PSYCHE. They’re all the same problem.
Why are we as hosts, brides, and grooms many times so over-worked and over-spent when it comes to parties and weddings? You don’t need to know how to bake a pie, make custom decorations, cater a party, hand-craft seasonal cocktails, or arrange flowers. You just need to know how to ask for help. And if you know how to do all these things and don’t have the time or the money? You still need to know how to ask for help.
ASKING FOR HELP
There are very few times where NO ONE will help. Sometimes it’s just one other person, but there are usually at least two or three people willing to help someone out. With something. Whether it be executing a party, making side dishes, giving a homeless man change, or letting someone merge in traffic. Most people are assholes, but usually there’s someone who wants to help.
So, as a host of a party, if you’re overwhelmed, put the word out and see what sticks. If you’re too prideful to ask for help, or if everyone in your circle are truly such assholes that they won’t help you, then hire someone. You’ll be out more money, but at least now you have help. (And the perspective that hey, maybe it’s time to get better friends.)
The main issue with sharing the burden with friends is confrontation and seamlessness. How do you work together with a group of people? It’s like herding cats!
Well, I for one am pretty good at herding cats. And getting them to all make different complimentary sides for a potluck.
- Figure out what needs to be done. Taking out trash? Making 5 pies? Hanging lights? Picking up flowers? If the party involves food, plan out a menu. Figure out how many people you need to feed and get drunk. That’s your only real job here.
- Ask people for help directly (“Mark, will you make 2 bowls of potato salad?” “Shannon, will you make two pans of your best brownies?” “Dawn, will you arrange flowers for the tables?”) and see what shakes out. People will say no. Ask until someone says yes.
- Keep track of what you asked people to do and if they got it done – WRONG. This is not your job. You should delegate the delegation patrol too. This is where you can stop worrying about “being a bitch/asshole”. Delegate the being a bitch/asshole to someone else.
- Stop being a control freak and take it all in stride when stuff goes wrong. And it will. OH NO…. TWO JELLO SALADS AND NO PASTA SALAD??!!? The world is not going to end. Get everyone at least marginally drunk, mostly fed, and dancing. Enjoy your party. In six months no one will care about the Jello Fiasco… including you.