a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘throwing parties’

the art of parties

No Japan on the birthday soundtrack but definitely an important part of my musical youth.  You have been spared my opinions lately because the birthday party that inspired this blog was on Mar 10th.

I decided to obsess over the details and organize it like a Prussian.  I could have just chilled and people would have had a good time.  But I didn’t want it to just be a random birthday party; I wanted it to an event!

I appreciated lots of people would just have a good time and the details would be lost on them.  But some of the assembled who share my obsessions – music, photography, travel, classic cocktails, French patisseries, fine cuisine – and balloons – would take notice and appreciate the extra effort I had put into the party.  And it worked!  I think it will be a fond memory for most of the guests.  I have no voice today and shut down the Tiki Bar.  Obviously I got my money’s worth out of the event 🙂

As Okkervil River will tell you, “it was the flaws that made us have fun”.

The slide show didn’t play in the right order but the jumbled order captured the crowd’s attention and got them talking.

No one danced but we got a brilliant moment where a few people who heard that song at every party in their youth shook their booty to AC/DC’s “You Shook Me You All Night Long.”

I spent $200 on balloons, which might make you question my sanity.  There were 99 luftballoons – 50 filled with helium and 49 filled with air.  I had people helping me madly set up so the plan was to release the helium balloons so they would float to the ceiling but instead they got arranged around the room in bouquets.  The error became a better idea.  At the end of our private party at 10, I got scissors from the bartender and released 50 helium balloons.

As the bar flooded with all the people who had been waiting in line outside, the purple balloons rose to the starry dark blue ceiling like planets floating in place.  It looked fantastic.  I totally got my money’s worth watching everyone in the bar playing with the balloons.  Some girl named Johanna who was also celebrating a birthday got to wear a balloon her shoulder.  At the end of the night I gathered the few remaining balloons on the floor and floated them into the crowd on the dance floor.  And then I went over to the extraordinary bartenders Scott and Chris and had them make me a “purple balloons” (the party’s signature cocktail) and savoured the end of a party that would have made Japan proud – and that people should remember for the next decade…

the origin of friendship

This afternoon I had a wonderful, much too brief, visit with an old friend on his way from the airport to his mother’s 90th birthday in our favourite city.  I first met him when I was dating his best friend, 20 years ago now.  Yikes!  But we know I’m old so the interesting part of the story is that when I broke up with his friend, he asked if WE could still be friends.  I am pretty unconventional so it was fine with me.  But not a very typical way to acquire friends…

For whatever reason, that seems to be my norm.  I never gave it much thought until friends started playing a party game called, “how did you meet Marla?”  I had this eureka moment that most people develop their friendships from a very limited set of channels.  The typical ones are school, work or sports.  There is nothing wrong with these channels, of course, but it means that most of the people at the party will already know each other.

And likely have a lot of similarities.  How I started throwing parties is another story but I have thrown a lot of them and it’s always a diverse group.  People have commented on how much they enjoy my parties because it’s such a broad mix of people.

I think that stems from my lifestyle.  I have always been a gypsy child.  I spent my first six birthdays in a different town every year so I became used to new people.  But I guess I also yearned for more stability in some ways so once I got old enough to afford stamps, I would stay in touch with anyone I met who really caught my attention.  My criterion was an interesting conversation rather than shared interests or contacts.

I never really set out with a plan to acquire friends.  Just to meet people and treat them well.  But it’s ended up being a wild, wonderful ride.  Some of my best friends have rarely ever lived in the same city as me.  One friendship developed because we always brushed our teeth at the same time in university residence and would invariably end up on the sink counter with our toothbrushes chatting into the night.  Another was my random roommate for six weeks during a summer job in Calgary – we didn’t talk very often but when she taught me the longest word in the English language I knew she was one of my tribe 🙂   Yet another was acquired after I had been instructed to meet new people at an Australia Day party – by another friend who I acquired via a friend I met on a boat cruise by mistaking him for someone else…

You get the idea!  I would encourage everyone to make a goal to try and acquire at least one new friend each decade that you didn’t make via the normal channels… someone you met randomly at a bus stop maybe… we’re still going strong 30 years later… and I am really hoping she will be able to fly in for my 50th birthday party 😉

architects love chicago 🙂

Mr. Dressup taught me how to throw a party

It has been suggested that I am pretty good at parties…  I guess the test will happen in a few weeks…  I’ve learned a few things about hospitality over the years but my first party demonstrates the perils of letting your children watch television unsupervised 🙂  You would need to be old and Canadian to know who Mr. Dressup is but he was a huge role model in my childhood.  And one random weekday Mr. Dressup and his friends had a party.  It seemed really cool – especially because it seemed to be a great excuse to eat cake and drink Kool-Aid.  And, as my mom would tell you, in those days I was a fussy eater and began every meal asking what the dessert was… it was just a strategic plan to see whether it was worth getting through the main course…

But to get back to the party concept… Mr. Dressup did not mention that you needed to clear it with your mother – or your caterer – before you threw a party… so I just ran around the neighbourhood inviting every child that I knew to a party at my house at a specific day and time.  I DID get that part right 😉  Needless to say, my mother wasn’t too impressed when about 20 children descended on our backyard looking for cake.  I explained I was throwing a party!  She explained that party planning involved more than just inviting the guests… but she is an amazing mom so she produced Kool-Aid and some kind of fun food.  Maybe the mini chocolate bars she used to stash in the cupboard to feed her own habit 🙂

SHE is the reason my first party was a smashing success.  And I think I have learned a few things about parties, guests and hospitality over the years.  I am sure there will be more party stories… hey, I almost had a helicopter land on the roof of a penthouse.  I nixed that plan but the party was still dramatic enough for reality TV… which had not yet been invented… but you will have to keep reading if you want that story 😉

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