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Swift: When planning get-togethers, friends are most important detail

Tammy Swift, columnist

When it comes to "party-planning," women have a much different perception of it than men do.

A woman planning a party for her friends will clean her house from top to bottom, put the nice "guest towels" in the powder room and arrange fresh flowers on the dining room table. She will bake a fancy dessert, buy wine and make pastry-wrapped Brie. She will take the dog to the groomer and clean out the freezer in case a guest helps themselves to ice.

She might single-handedly rearrange the living room or even steam-clean the carpets. After all, one cannot maintain the charade that "We always live like Martha Stewart," if the basement smells like wet ferrets and the couch has drool stains from the cat's molar-removal surgery.

More often than not, she will plan every detail based on the assumption that her friends will see everything and discuss their findings in a three-hour, transatlantic debriefing afterward. Her humble home will be transformed into a sparkling, Pinterest-worthy, Scentsy-bathed museum of pristine throw pillows and color-coordinated table settings.

This is all well and good. After all, we all like to show off a bit when inviting people to our homes. But the problem with this perfectionism is that we won't invite someone over until the house is perfect. And because the average house rarely stays perfect for longer than 18 minutes, we have very few houseguests.

Most men, conversely, seem to have no such qualms. I recently attended a 60th birthday party in which all the guests were men who once belonged to a music appreciation group. I was assured spouses had been invited. Yes, the spouses were invited, but they didn't come. They knew better. They weren't about to sit around with a bunch of music geeks listening to Japanoise and debating the finer points of Psychobilly.

The man who was hosting the party is married, but his wife was out of town. That would explain the bachelor-like simplicity of the buffet, which included tortilla chips, potato chips, Tostito cheese in a jar and Tollhouse bars. The beverage selections were limited to a thermos of lemonade for non-drinkers and beer for everyone else.

The party was located in the backyard, where a bunch of camp chairs were positioned around a non-burning firepit. Entertainment included visiting, watching the dogs sneak food off everyone's plates and, of course, music. I created quite a stir when I suggested everyone pose together for a group photograph. It occurred to me that group pictures are usually organized by moms and girlfriends. Most men aren't thinking of how they will design a fancy page to commemorate their friend's birthday party in their scrapbook.

These guests didn't care about the food or the décor. They were there to remember the old days, catch up on each other's lives and listen to obscure funk remakes of Black Sabbath tunes.

In retrospect, it was a pretty good idea. They weren't waiting to get together until they had the perfect venue, the ideal party concept or the most impressive caterer. They were just a bunch of friends who reconnected to find out they still had much in common.

OK, OK, I get it.

But would it have killed them to serve Brie?

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at tswiftsletten@gmail.com.

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