Twinkies? We don’t need no stinkin’ Twinkies! Easy Holdiay Party Hostess Success!

Many are afraid of losing the Twinkie to history.  But the word HOSTESS brings on fear of a kind unrelated to chemically enchanced spongecake. Let me be clear: there is no reason to fear having guests. At it’s most basic, entertaining is simple. Order take-out, and be entertaining. 

Guests today are not like those of the 19th century.  They do not come to your home in white-tie expecting to be served a seven course dinner by your Butler.  In fact, if you are clear when you make the invitation, they may not expect to be fed at all.  Recently we had friends over and I invited them for drinks and dessert.  They plainly knew this was not a dinner party, and were delighted with a special winter cocktail, and freshly baked cookies.  But were you neither baker nor drink maker, there are goodies at supermarkets that are delicious, and flavored holiday concoctions that are very celebratory spiked or non!  And truthfully, if there is enough food and booze at a party – everyone has a good time.

Cheers to not waiting for “perfect” parties!

As for being entertaining, you don’t need your own stand-up comedy routine. There are many easy games that take the pressure off you running the gamut from old fashioned charades, to a full on session of “Dance Dance Revolution,” or if you’ve got a more academic crowd, a rowdy game of Scrabble will do the trick.

So forget making everything perfect! Do you ever hear people say they went to a “perfect” party last weekend? No.  Aim for Great! Aim for Fun! Chinese food on paper plates might be the best party you ever had.  Take that Martha Stewart.

Live well, and love well.


My Little Etiquette Shop: Lessons Learned at…a funeral?

Last week was quite a week. A fair bit of time was given to supporting a grieving family who lost their mother, our neighbor.

Her funeral brought out my contemplative side.  The service was unique, in that the rabbi thought he was a stand up comedian.  At first I braced myself: this was a train wreck.  Knowing he wasn’t someone who knew the family well, but had met with them briefly the day before, I dreaded where he was going with his goofy humor.  However, bit by bit, he charmed everyone in the room (myself included) with his puns, and the way he spoke more about the people present than the one who was gone. He really brought her to life in the way he “riffed” on each meaningful relationship, right down to mock-lecturing her son’s boss saying, “keep an eye on him.”

I love and respect Jewish culture, our wedding was quite traditional. But, as an employee at a floral design studio, and lover of flowers I am comforted by flowers at funerals, which are contrary to Jewish tradition. (I’ll let wiser folk explain).  One woman at the service brought flowers, completely innocently.  The same jovial rabbi spoke a little too sharply to her for my taste about the fact that they were “not allowed.”  From the row behind her, it looked like she felt bad. I often mangle Emily Post’s famous quote about how keeping people comfortable around you makes your behavior proper, no matter what. We’ll make the exact quote lesson 1 from yesterday, followed by the other two.

1) Mind your manners “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” -Emily Post.  Don’t make people feel bad, especially in a sensitive situation like a funeral. <ahem Rabbi…>

2) Trust a professional to do their job. That Rabbi wasn’t going to risk corny humor if he didn’t know where he was going with it, and that he would be able to touch people. Have a little faith, and even when things seem like they are going wrong, they are most likely going to turn in the right direction.

2) Laugh when you want to cry. This is of course a very serious application of that principle.  But it applies in so many situations. If you reflexively tear up in response to a bizarre/awful/terrible/shocking event in your life, take a deep breath, and try to reframe. There’s got to be something funny about what happened. You just have to find that piece of it and let it tickle you.  It takes the air out of almost anything, and you can begin to put the pieces back together.

Have a happy, grateful week everyone! Count your blessings.

Be well, and love well.