Dear Miss L’Anne,
I am a Southerner living in the North. Recently, I hosted a party where I made flower arrangements and spent days making special food and decorations. By the end of the party, I was fuming because guests had let their children destroy my decorations and left my house a complete mess (I found plates of unfinished food in my own bedroom that was off limits to guests!). I felt disrespected and like my efforts were lost on so many of the guests. Should I abandon my efforts to be a good hostess like I was raised, or is there a way I can make people understand that it hurts when they are poor party guests?
Dear Frustrated Hostess,
I am so sorry that your experience hosting a party in another part of the country was disappointing, but look what you gained from this event.
You spent time being creative, cooking, decorating, and preparing for the generous reception of your guests. I think you must have been happy and felt a sense of anticipation.
It seems a predicament was inevitable as the guest list was made. Hosting a party is more than food, decorations and inviting all the people you know to meet at one place. To have a successful party, it is wise to have a vision for the event. Is it to enjoy the company and conversation with people, to play games, to celebrate an occasion, or is it to celebrate something with children? When the reason for the party has been determined, it is easier to make the invitation list, plan the food, decorations, and the event.
For example, if the party is to enjoy conversation and get to know your guests better, the invitation can be extended to a few people and it should be clear that the occasion is for adults. I know it is difficult when children are usually included in everything. I love children, however, it is perfectly acceptable to have a party without children. If parents cannot find a sitter, they will have to decline this time.
Practice a sentence or two ahead of time to express your disappointment that someone will have to miss the party whether due to difficulty of finding a babysitter or some other reason. Being prepared with a gracious comment will enable you to keep to your plan for the party and help your friends still feel honored that you wanted to spend time with them even if they cannot attend.
Having a vision is a good thing, but it is a vision, not carved in stone. Plan, prepare, and then enjoy the time with your guests as you exhibit “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” That’s hospitality!
Need advice? Ask Miss L’Anne! Nothing beats the wisdom of a true Southern lady. She knows everything there is to know about everything. Seriously.