I have a friend who is batshit crazy. She does this thing where as soon as she makes a decision to host a party or shower she withdraws from reality into this world of Martha Stewart, cheesy Hallmark commercial fantasy and does not emerge from it until during the actual party. At which point she becomes super pissed at everyone because they’ve failed to express their euphoric enjoyment, and seem completely indifferent to the fact that appetizers that they’re only politely nibbling on because they ate before they came were made from saffron and goat butter that she churned herself. Also, why has no one mentioned the paper garland, which she handmade out of 137 intricately cut pieces of special-order white shimmer paper? Why?!
Okay, yeah, it’s me. I'm the "friend."
Or I should say it was me until one day I was running late to a friend’s party, and instead of carefully studying Ina Garten select a free-range organic cornish game hen from her game hen supplier to make into herb roasted hen tartlets on an episode of Barefoot Contessa (don’t google that - I totally made that episode up), I stopped at the grocery store bakery and got a dozen chocolate chip cookies on the way. I learned two very important things that day:
1) I did 1000% less work (give or take, I still need to check my math)
2) People’s reactions were the exactly same
You know why? Because people fucking love food! Seriously, when I wake up in the morning the first thing I think is, “OMG, it’s a brand new day to eat food!” I think that everyday, and Lord help the person that tries to delay me from eating breakfast. Anyway, back to the point. People might go, “Ohh, you made this from scratch?! Fancy!” if you tell them, but that’s it. They don’t give you a trophy. There’s no cash reward. If you’re lucky, you just get an acknowledgement. If you give them grocery store cookies they might go, “Ohh! Cookies!” because they're cookies, and people love cookies, but again there’s no reward or prize.
So, what does this parable mean to you? Does it mean you should give up cooking, serve only processed food, and stop making things with love for the people that you care about? Hell no! Here’s the thing: if you like doing it, do it to it! I happen to like spending tons of time designing and making intricate decorations for all of my events. I also happen to get a kick out of reading an Ina Garten recipe and having access to or knowledge of almost of the ingredients and cooking terms. BUT, I’ve hosted enough parties in passive aggressive disappointment to finally realize that when I go out of my way or make something simple into something unnecessarily hard that I’m doing it for me, and because I want to, and the act of doing it, not other people's reactions, is what I enjoy.
You can do as much or as little as you want, and still enjoy it as long as you manage your expectations in other people’s reactions and behavior. Remember that a party or shower serves two purposes:
1) To bring people together in celebration
2) To create an excuse to eat food
*BONUS PURPOSE* - To booze it up
Yeah, I love pretty decorations. They’re my job, but they don’t mean anything if they’re in a room full of people I love that I’m secretly plotting to kill.
My sincerest advice to anyone who is planning any kind of party or shower is to figure out the things that you’re good at, and that you really want to do, and do them. Everything else buy already made, delegate, or be done with. You're too overcommitted, stressed out, and sleep-deprived to take on more than you can handle. Celebrations should not be stressful. If your guests have a place to sit, snacks and drinks, and something to talk about you’re already killing it. Everything else is bonus.
Now here’s a list of 11 things you can do with all of the time you’ve saved:
- Binge watch Netflix with your S.O.
- Actually go to bed on time
- Wander, without purpose, around Target for several hours
- Drink wine and talk shit with your BFF
- Try a new local restaurant
- Commit a random act of kindness
- Organize the hall closest
- Do any one of the things on your Pinterest fitness motivation board
- Share more pictures of your baby or cat Facebook
- Actually go to that farmer’s market that you pass by, but never have time to stop at
- Figure it all out - career, relationship, life (just joking, you won’t save that much time)
I love you, 'belles! I truly hope this article helps you figure out how to spend more time doing what you love, and less time stressing. I want to hear how you're going to eliminate a little stress in you life. Leave a comment below now!