Party Planning Tips for the Lazy Hostess

Like all aspiring writers and bloggers, it is my dream to have an article published in the Huffington Post. I’ve never actually visited this website, but I envision it as the perfect meld of light entertainment (suggested by the ridiculous name“Huffington- which I’m convinced Ariana made up), and more serious, issue-driven reads (as suggested by the moniker“Post.”) I’ve noticed many popular articles and books have a number in the title, like “The 7 Habits of Effective People,” “Five Ways to Become a Published Writer” (wikihow.com) and “I Am Number Four.” So, I give you the following integer themed article. (Ariana, I’m sorry I made fun of your name. Please publish this!)

 


SO YOU UNWISELY DECIDED TO HOST A PARTY AND YOUR HOUSE LOOKS LIKE CRAP: SEVEN HELPFUL TIPS

House parties are a great deal of fun, as long as they are at someone else’s house. Unfortunately, if you expect to keep getting invited to other people’s parties, you occasionally have to throw one of your own. Here are seven ways that you can a) prevent people from finding out that you live in squalor and b) throw a successful house party!

Helpful Hint #1: Do Not Have The Party At Your House.

House parties involve an alarming amount of work. If at all possible, try to have the party at an alternate location. For example, why not have your party at a local pool? I prefer pool parties because they really play to my strengths and skills as a hostess: not cleaning, not cooking, and not decorating. I simply show up at the pool at the required time with a “Happy Birthday” balloon and a cake, and let the lifeguards do the rest. These people are trained to SAVE LIVES. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe one party-goer eats too much junk food and pukes in the deep end (Jake’s 5th birthday). You just sit back, relax, and watch the boys in red shorts fish out those regurgitated cheese doodles. Or, perhaps a pre-schooler becomes traumatized after finding a dead rabbit in the diving well (also Jake’s 5th birthday). Again, not your problem. Mr. Red Shorts McSunscreen will get that floater out, give it a less-than-dignified burial behind the snack shed, and shock the chlorinated crap out of the water. If you are wondering what the children do in the meantime, you underestimate the fascination children have with vomit and dead animals. In the words of one 5 year old reveler: Best. Party. Ever.

Dead bunnies aside, there is one unfortunate event that can mar your pool party’s success: Rain. Recently, I rose early on the morning of my daughter’s 7th birthday party, looked at the dismal forecast, and was forced to make the difficult decision every pool party hostess dreads: take my chances with the rain, or relocate the party to my tiny, cluttered, dusty, dog-hair infested house, with its plague of mysterious, unpleasant odors. What to do?

Helpful Hint #2: Use The Internet

Whenever I need information or advice in a certain situation, I turn to the internet. This is how I found out that you should NOT put dishwashing soap in the dishwasher (totally counterintuitive). Actually, I learned that lesson the old fashioned way. More precisely, the internet is where I learned how to fix your dishwasher after you have put dishwashing soap in it (vinegar, if you’re wondering). If I’m confused about song lyrics, or the meaning of a TV series finale, or want to know why my dog is throwing up, or how many cups are in a pint, or how to make balloon animals, I turn to Google. After several hours of research, I realized that instead of spending the morning watching youtube videos on the hidden messages in “Lost” and how to make balloon animals, I should have been purchasing inexpensive gazebos and tables, renting an all-weather house at a local park, and creating fun indoor activities, crafts, and games. Instead, I opted to just move to party to my house and buy some extra beer.

Helpful Hint #3: Be Decisive.

Once the decision to relocate is made, it must be adhered to. Waffling will only lead to frequent and more desperate text messages and phone calls from confused partygoers. Your guests crave a strong leader, someone to rule with a festive iron fist: “The party will be at our house. Yes, I’m sure there is enough room. No, I don’t need you to bring anything, unless you have some inexpensive gazebos lying around. Also, all non-pregnant guests must consume a minimum of three alcoholic beverages” This last edict, if faithfully enforced, will prevent your guests from focusing on the balls of dog hair in the corners.

Helpful Hint #4: Be Realistic.

Try to look at your house with an objective eye.  It may not be party-ready, but focus on what you can accomplish in the next few hours. For example, I didn’t have time to steam clean the furniture, buy a new deck umbrella and sound system, or move to a bigger and nicer house. Instead, I scrounged up some throw pillows from the “give away” pile in the garage and placed them strategically over the largest and most ominous couch stains. Then, after wrestling unsuccessfully with the mammoth deck umbrella in an attempt to push it to the side, I decided to take the path of least resistance and crank it open to its full 10 foot span, which shielded the entire yard from rain and hid the moldy spots and bird droppings on top.

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Colorful leis and face-painting will distract children and adult alike from the piles of dog poo in the backyard.
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For a truly epic party, consider purchasing some (possibly illegal, depending which state you live in) fireworks. The spectacle and smell will surely make it a party to remember!

Helpful Hint #5: Camouflage and Accentuate.

Like a fat girl in a bathing suit, you should cover and draw attention away from those troublesome unsightly areas, while emphasizing your assets. To draw attention away from the waist-high weeds surrounding the front porch, I took advantage of my children’s current obsession with balloon animals by attaching a gaggle of multi-colored dogs, swans, flowers and swords to the porch railing with black electrical tape.  The latex swarm provided an interesting visual focal point for arriving guests that did not spark a conversation about weed killer. Even though some of the guests noted the unfortunate resemblance between the balloon swans and a certain part of the male anatomy, at least they weren’t looking at the weeds.

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After some consideration, we relocated Danny’s balloon menagerie to the front porch for our guests to enjoy as they arrived.

Helpful Hint #6: Declutter.

Having a bunch of richer people with nicer houses over is the perfect excuse to take down your middle schooler’s 4th grade report card and the blue post-it notes your 6 year old daughter has used to label various household locations (FIREPLAC. DEK.) It’s also a great time to get rid of unsightly piles of books, papers, toys, and refuse. Try stuffing them in your children’s closets, under their beds, and other places your guests are not likely to visit, such as the bathtub.

Helpful Hint #7: Encourage Your Guests To Drink Heavily.

This is good advice for any party, gathering, or festival. Adults who consume several alcoholic beverages will be having too much fun to notice your house at all. Your party will be remembered for their crazy antics, instead of its unusual odor of sweaty, rancid pineapple.  

There you have it- 7 quick and easy tips to make your house party a success! Once you have completed these simple steps, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the party. And remember, the wonderful (though hazy) memories and partially deflated balloon-shaped penises will linger long after the last guest has departed.

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The birthday girl and her friend enjoy the party.
Balloon swan or penis? You decide.
Balloon swan or penis? You decide.

 

 

Excerpt from “Memoirs of The Car Keys: An Unexpected Journey”

As Kristi Bader’s car keys, I have to be ready for anything. Most car keys spend most of their time crammed into dark, sticky pockets or purses with the usual crumpled gum wrappers, capless chapsticks, and broken hair clips. Not me. On any given day, you might find me in a rest stop bathroom off the New Jersey turnpike, on a shelf in the Housewares Department in Target, or even on the lam in Southeast DC with a joy-riding teenager. But my most recent adventure was my wildest yet. It all began on a sunny Friday morning at Boston Logan airport….

June 30th, 2014

It was ten AM, and we were walking to the gate to check Danny in for his flight back to DC. Well, Kristi was walking, I was swinging precariously from her index finger, when she stopped abruptly (I almost went flying!) and began rummaging through her purse, muttering about her cell phone.

Soon, we were running through the airport, out into the bright sunlight of the parking lot, and back to the car.
 
With a sigh of relief, Kristi quickly located the cell phone, which in another desperate bid for freedom had slipped into the crevice between the passenger seat and the console. It is said that this crevice marks a portal to another dimension, and the cell phone is ceaseless in its attempts to escape through it. But that’s another story.

Cell phone safely in hand, Kristi surveyed the thigh-high ocean of crap in the cabin of the minivan thoughtfully. She unearthed an empty bag with “Rehoboth Beach” stitched on the side, brushed off the crushed pretzels and stale raisins stuck to it, and filled it with selected items: a small bag of Pirate’s Booty, a half-full bottle of water, a dog-eared copy of “Football Nightmare,” by Mike Lupica and a partially squished pack of gum. She then shut the door and began the painstaking car-locking process.

Kristi is a Serial Button Pusher. If pressing a button once will lock the car, then pressing it repeatedly must really, really lock the car, she reasons (or so I imagine). Unfortunately, her husband insisted on procuring a remote-start option that is linked to the “lock” button. Pressing the button once will lock it. Pressing it twice will lock it even better (or so Kristi thinks.) Pressing it three times will start the engine. Pressing it four times will…actually, I don’t know. In any case, I lost track of how many times she pressed the “lock” button that day. Several trips back to the car (to turn off the engine) later, Operation Car Lock was a success, and she tossed me in the Rehoboth Beach bag over her shoulder and headed back into the airport.

At first, I wasn’t worried. As far as I was concerned, being in any bag- purse, shoulder bag, beer cooler- lowered the risk that I would get left next to the Mentos and Tic Tacs in the checkout line at the airport store. So, I relaxed in my new digs next to the Pirate Booty as she checked Danny in and waited at the gate, listening to him peppering her with endless questions about flight safety, (What’s a terrorist? How does the plane stay up in the air?) requests for snacks (Can I have Cheetos? How about Doritos? Can I have anything from the “OHs” family? ) and pithy observations about fellow travelers (Hey mom! Look at that fat guy!).

Finally, they said their goodbyes, and Danny was off. A while later, I heard a noise that sounded like a jet engine, and I had the strange sensation of rising into the air.  It was then I realized that Danny took the Rehoboth Beach bag, and I was on the plane!  
 
There was really nothing to be done at that point but relax, enjoy the flight, and reflect on the strange turn the day had taken. I had flown before, sure, but always on purpose. I was pretty sure that Kristi didn’t mean to send me on the plane- how would she get back into the car, in which her electronic devices, snacks, and other belongings were stored? How would she get back to the Cape? Was she planning on living at the airport?

As I pondered these questions, I soon became aware that the plane was landing. Soon after we got off the plane, I heard Eric’s voice, and Danny’s big paw reached in and lifted me out of the bag and dangled me in the air. There were loud exclamations, followed by protestations from Danny (“Those are swears, Daddy! You’re not supposed to say them!) and the flash of a camera phone, and then I was shoved in someone’s pocket.

The next few hours consisted of expletive-laced tirades about irresponsible wives, lacrosse tournaments, and mouth-breathing airline employees who really were earning their $7.50 an hour. It was quite traumatic. Finally, I was released from my prison only to be shoved into a large box. Later, I felt the strange sensation of rising into the air, and heard the loud noise of jet engines…another trip through the skies! This time, I made the pilgrimage unaccompanied, like the veteran traveler I had become. A few hours later, there was a ripping sound and a shriek of delight as Kristi grabbed me and waved me around triumphantly for all the apathetic airline employees to see.
 
Soon, I was reunited with my minivan, and resting in my usual cup holder as Kristi bolted down route 3 towards the Cape in a caffeine induced frenzy, yelling Katy Perry lyrics out the window to the darkening evening sky.

It felt good to be home.