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October 1999 Issue
by Jenny Wojcik
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An idea for a party is born, and before it was barely spoken, the guest list increased. So here’s what we have:
  1. Date, time, location? Not exactly -- but "over" the holidays, so we’ve narrowed it down somewhat. Now let’s get specific and pick a date, a time and remember to draw a map!

  2. Number of guests? Close friends (12) and co-workers (6 for you, 6 for me = 12 total co-workers) Total number of guests: 24 plus honey and me = 26

  3. Type/theme of party? Holiday.

Now as we think about the number of people and the fact that we want to have this get together at our house, we realize we cannot seat 26 people around our dinner table, and we really don’t want to rent tables and chairs. That eliminates the sit-down dinner party.

If you have space to accommodate guest seating in several rooms or areas, you might choose the ever-popular and always good buffet. Just remember, people are not comfortable eating a buffet meal without a place to sit. It does not have to be a table, but there must be provisions for their plates and cups. Card tables, sturdy trays, even coffee tables suffice, but remember to protect them and decorate them so that they appear as useful as you mean them to be. Don’t be overly concerned about having 26 such places. Everyone will eat at their own pace, on their own schedule and will seek a place to sit when they need one. Buffets encourage "grazing" and some will do just that.

The buffet or simply drinks and hors d’oeuvres may be fine, but can we accommodate that number of people at one time? If the answer is no, then perhaps we need to think about staggering our guests arrival and departure times by positioning our party differently. By referring to the event as an "Open House" or a "Holiday Candlelight Gathering", people have our implied permission to come share our hospitality, and then leave without being committed to a full afternoon or evening.

By the way, there’s a huge clue there -- the word afternoon. Remember that the number one in planning is ‘When and Where’. If where is home and when is "during the holidays" you can bet that there are MANY other parties being planned for the same days/times as yours. After all, the most popular party time is Saturday night, secondly comes Friday night and there are only so many of those to choose from. In our scenario of the 26 people, little room, and a "get together" rather than a dinner necessarily, we could eliminate a lot of conflict by inviting our guests for an Open House on a Sunday afternoon, between the hours of 3:00 and 7:00PM. It doesn’t have to be Sunday afternoon, it can be an evening, but if it is, and you are not serving heavy food, state that the party is 8:00 - 11:00 PM which is after the dinner hour and many people will have eaten.

What just happened? We planned a way to service our needs as well as the comfort of our guests, and we’ve probably raised the attendance from 50% to 80%! We’re doing well. We’ve also just solved the # 4 planning question, because we should definitely send written invitations for an Open House.

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