Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover


How not to suck as a party host

I love hosting parties at my house. In fact, as we look for our new house, one of my criteria was that it had to be conducive to parties. Particularly the backyard. Because there really is nothing better than having your friends and family over for a summer barbecue. Except maybe Thanksgiving.

Anyway, as someone who enjoys hosting parties, I pay careful attention to what others do. And, for whatever reason, I have been attending supremely horrible parties lately. Like truly, truly awful. The kind of party that makes you wish you were home doing laundry or dusting. And I've been thinking about the steps that the party throwers could have taken to make their fetes infinitely better. And I've decided to assemble them in one place so if you want to throw a party, you know exactly how not to suck as a host:

  1. Clean your house. It doesn't need to be immaculate. But sweeping the floors, emptying the trash cans, and putting away dirty dishes make a huge difference. Also, if your furniture is covered in dog hair, run a vacuum over it. Your guests don't need to look like a hamster is grasping at their legs when they stand up. This also goes for pools. If you are having a pool party, clean your pool. Seriously. No one wants to swim in your swamp water.
  2. Decorate. Like cleaning, it doesn't have to be perfect. But a few things like a table centerpiece, coordinated plates and silverware, and a few balloons go a long, long way. Particularly for a birthday party. The small touches are inexpensive and give the party a festive atmosphere. And also, that open pantry you have? Cover that shit up with streamers or a banner or something. Anything. I implore you.
  3. Open the windows for light. Unless the theme is “cave dwellers” or the party is at night, open the windows. Let the sunshine in. Or, at the very least, turn on some lamps or overhead lighting. Guests like to see where they're going and also each other. If it's an evening party, just turn on the lights. I don't know the layout of your house and bumping into walls kind of kills my party buzz.
  4. Climate control. If it's the summertime, turn on the air conditioner. If you don't want to do that because of people going in and out, have fans available. You want your guests to be comfortable and not sweating profusely. Because smelly guests are not happy guests. And if your party happens to occur in cooler weather, have a central location for coats and make appropriate adjustments for the warmth in your home. Attendees don't want to freeze or go on an epic scavenger hunt for their jackets.
  5. Talk to your guests. It pains me that I actually have to add this to the list. When you invite people to your home for a party, nothing says “I'd rather all you fuckers leave” than ignoring the invitees. The conversations don't have to be long, in-depth discussion of religion and politics but a little “hey, how about the weather” type small talk won't kill you and it'll also make your friends and family feel welcomed rather than like an inconvenience.
  6. Be aware of dietary restrictions. With the abundance of food allergies and dietary restrictions going on these days, you have make accommodations for everyone (and you should know this because you have a kid with food allergies, lady whose house I went to for a party the other day). If you're not sure, ask. People are more than happy to share dietary preferences with whomever will listen. And if you can't or won't cook for them, let them know ahead of time. It's a pain in the ass to be invited to a dinner party only to find out you can't eat anything.
  7. Make arrangements for your pets. As a dog owner, I feel that if people are coming to visit my house, they need to accept that my dogs live there. If they can't, then don't visit. However. In the event of a party, you're not only dealing with pet dander allergies, children who are afraid of dogs, and the general inconvenience of having your pets under foot. It's just for a few hours; crate them, send them to doggy daycare, put them in a room. Have cats, not dogs? Then do whatever it is that people do with cats. I've done it and it's not a big deal.
  8. Have a plan B. Like talking to your guests, I can't believe I have to write this. If you are planning an outdoor summer party, check them weather forecasts obsessively for the week leading up to the event. Make alternative arrangements, whether it's indoor activities, a rain date, or something else, so that your guests are a) not inconvenienced and b) bored. Even if you don't need it, have it on hand. Because Mother Nature can be a crazy bitch.

Please be advised: following these steps will not ensure that your party is great. That's a whole different topic. No, these can only help you be a good party host.

Or, at the very least, prevent your friends from writing a blog post about you.


July’s challenge: Cross That Sh&t Off

How’d the use that sh&t up challenge work out for you? I did great! I didn’t buy any new lip gloss, lip balm or any of their relatives. I need to, particularly in the lip gloss category, and I’ve decided that instead of just bringing the new stuff in to add to the collection, I’m going purge the older stuff, too (did you know that Body Shop lip balm has an expiration date? Neither did I).  Not only will it make me seem like less of a lip product hoarder but they’ll be some justification as to why I buy something new.

Except this time, given how infrequently I go places that would implore me to wear lip gloss, I’ll only buy one color. Maybe 2. Definitely not more than 3.

I don’t know about you but I kind of liked having a challenge to work on during the month. It forced me to think about what I was doing in one area and then, by extension, made me more conscious of other areas of my life. I need that.

To keep the momentum going I’m instituting a monthly challenge here on DMS. On the first Monday of every month, I’ll issue a new challenge not only for myself but encourage you to join along. You can discuss your challenge in the comments, on your blog, on the DMS Facebook page5, or keep it to yourself and work on it privately (I totally respect if you choose this method). You can also ignore it, too, and just be a voyeur towards my progress. That’s cool.

someecards.com - Let's see... What else should I put on my to-do-but-probably-wont list.

Punctuation error is not mine. Also on my to-do list: correct everyone’s grammar.

By now you might be wondering just what is July’s challenge? This month, I, along with you, will complete items on our to-do lists that we’ve been avoiding for whatever reason. The big item I’m working on this month is a book proposal, of which I have written approximately zero words. I know exactly why I haven’t and I need to get over it (I have a fear of success. We’ll talk about that on Wednesday). That’s what I plan on doing this month.

If you don’t have a neglected to-do list item, you can do any of the following:

  • Automate your savings or balance your checkbook or any other tedious financial task.
  • Do something that makes you uncomfortable. Take a group exercise class or join On Target Coach’s Winners Wake Up Early challenge. I know waking up at 5 AM makes me incredibly uncomfortable.
  • Try something you wouldn’t try under different circumstances. My friend Martin (of Studenomics) also writes a fitness site, Kettlebell Rebels, and he has a number of great ideas.
  • Contact a blogger whose site you like and would love to guest post on. Ask if you can. (I need to do this along with the book proposal).
  • Clean out a room or closet in your house that scares you and you know that and you’ve been not cleaning it out on purpose but it looks like Monica’s closet and you have to so you don’t die the next time you open it.
  • Get rid of a friend who treats your poorly or just isn’t a good friend but you’ve been hanging on the friendship even though it drags you down because it’s easier (Item #3 on my list this month).
  • Anything else you can think of that you need to do but haven’t.

This challenge is definitely harder than last month’s and it’s that way on purpose. I feel like if I can tackle these items, it’ll get my momentum going for bigger—and smaller—challenges.

So, are you in? What are you going to cross of your list this month?