Ideas for the Party Human

Tip 3: Fill the Agenda

Posted on: October 3, 2009

            Whether it’s a birthday party for your three-year-old or a get-together among senior citizens, you must plan something to do.  Since the main reason for having a party is to entertain your friends, it is the responsibility of the host or hostess to see that the guests have a good time.  (Some parties I’ve been to seem to have it the other way around, and then there are the “party animals” who place the burden of entertainment on some type of chemical.)  In reality, you should plan more activities than you will have time for, just to be on the safe side.  Then you merely go by feel, as to which games the guests want to play, how much time you have, etc.  This “overbooking,” a practice well known to doctors and airlines, will prevent what we might call the “Old-Woman-Who-Lived-in-a-Shoe Syndrome.”

            As you recall from the nursery rhyme, The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe “had so many children she didn’t know what to do.”  Obviously, this Old Woman had not planned effectively for the care of those children.  Here she was–living in a shoe, for heaven’s sakes–more children than she knew what to do with, and what did she end up doing?  Well, “she gave them some broth without any bread, whipped them all soundly” (whether they deserved it or not) “and sent them to bed.”  Not exactly exemplary mothering practices! 

            Now, apply that to your partying practices.  Suppose you end up with more guests than you thought you’d have and you have not planned for enough food or activities.  So, they’re all sitting around wondering if they should eat anything or what they should do.  (This is called “dead air” when it happens in the media, and it can be just as lethal to a party as it is to the TV or radio station.)  Just so you won’t be tempted to whip your guests soundly and send them home to bed, be sure to plan enough food and activities to keep your guests busy.

            Again, the theme you choose will help you select (or create) appropriate activities for your party.  You might have one main activity, like swimming or going on a treasure hunt, but be sure to have a couple of quick and easy games in mind, just in case you wind up with extra time on your hands.  Or, you might have a party where you play one game after another; plan plenty of extra ones, so the guests can play the games that interest them the most.  Perhaps you’ve planned a dance party; do not forget to plan ways to get the dance going, because it will usually need a little help.  Whatever you do, try to add a unique touch to it, something different, something from your very own brain, like your personal signature.  (The party descriptions in later posts should give you some idea of what I mean by this.)  Variety will keep your guests guessing, and they will return again and again to future parties.

            The key to filling your party agenda is to anticipate anything that might happen to change the original course of action.  Like all good boy scouts, “Be Prepared” for that rained-out picnic, those nonswimmers among your guests, the short attention spans of toddlers, and those party poopers who find everything “boring.”  If you can imagine and plan for any possible problem, then chances are your party will go smoothly and you won’t have to use your emergency diversions after all.

            I won’t list specific ideas for activities in this post,  but in later posts I will describe many parties in detail, and I will also post dozens of games you could play at almost any party.

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