May 14, 201410:31 AM
Exploring finery, fun and the good life with New Orleans Bride editor Melanie Warner Spencer
Keeping it simple, celebratory and fun when co-hosting a party
Melanie Warner Spencer
That I’m obsessed with the etiquette arts is well known among my friends and family. Often I’m asked to weigh in on a situation or offer advice. When in doubt, I consult one of the more than 10 books in my ever-growing etiquette library — turning first of course to “The Big Blue Book” or the “bible,” as it’s nicknamed by my fellow aficionados, Emily Post’s Etiquette
. Needless to say, I visit the appropriate sections at Octavia Books
, Maple Street Book Shop
and Blue Cypress Books
often in search of good scores. When stumped on the go, I pull up the Emily Post Institute Etipedia
, which naturally is bookmarked on my iPhone. What’s more, and I’m not sorry for this obvious brag, I have on speed dial Peggy Post (great granddaughter-in-law of Emily Post, director of the Emily Post Institute and author in her own right), as she is my go-to expert when I’m working on etiquette-related articles.
By the way, whether or not you are into etiquette, if you haven’t yet read Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners, by Laura Claridge, it’s a fascinating and abundantly juicy biography. Put it in your beach bag this summer and you will not be disappointed.
Long story long, my niece recently requested a blog entry about co-hosting a party. I consider summer party season. Some may disagree considering the myriad parties thrown during the holidays. But between graduation parties, summer weddings, their corresponding showers and bachelorette shindigs, crawfish boils, barbecues, pool parties, Friday night porch parties, plus the usual mix of yearly birthday, anniversary and baby showers, the warm months are a hotbed of gatherings. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. P.S. If you need gift ideas for any of the above-mentioned soirées, click here
With jobs, children, extended family obligations, exercise classes, hobbies and simply feeding and bathing oneself also high priorities in life, co-hosting a party is a brilliant way to lighten the party throwing to-do list, when the call of duty comes in to celebrate someone or something special or that new cocktail recipe you just must share with your tippling friends. It is however also a potential minefield of hurt feelings, resentment and misunderstandings. To avoid the latter, keep in mind the following:
Plan your work and work your plan
Especially in the beginning stages develop a plan regarding the theme (beach party, elegant garden fete or fiesta?), food, guest list, beverage list, invitations (word of mouth, electronic or paper?) and music or other entertainment. Make sure each host knows his or her responsibilities and obligations and has a clear outline of the deadline schedule for tasks. Be upfront about your time commitment, strengths and weaknesses and only take on the assignments you can complete. Great with people? Volunteer to keep Crazy Aunt June out of too much mischief during the festivities (But let her have a little fun. Her antics are what the best post-party tales are made of).
Meet at a coffee shop or another favorite low-key location to start planning and, in the case that you’ve never met (which is sometimes in play with wedding related gatherings), to get to know one another. This is a good time to communicate your preferred method of communication (phone, face-to-face, text, email).
Make a pact to tell one another if you are suddenly unable to perform a job. Life happens, so just regroup and find a workable solution.
Be honest with yourself and your co-host. If you absolutely despise shopping, don’t volunteer for that job and instead negotiate an extra chore you can embrace with more joy in your heart (see Crazy Aunt June).
Create a budget
Set a realistic budget within everyone’s means and that all parties can enthusiastically agree upon and stick to it. Nobody wants to fight over money with friends and loved ones.
At the root of etiquette is kindness. Just treat your co-host with the same kindness and courtesy you like to be shown and keep your sense humor.
Amid the work and planning, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy yourself. After all, it’s a party. When working on invitations or having a planning session with your co-host, enjoy a glass of bubbly or your favorite smoothie or coffee beverage, put on some music and keep it festive. That spirit will convey on the day of the event.