May 23, 2012

Lesson 12: A Party for 100

At 22, I had the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan with my dad for 6 weeks. (Another story for another day). While there, I was asked to attend the wedding of a man's daughter who worked at the hospital. I did not know either the bride nor the man, but somehow I found myself in a highly decorated room, filled solely of woman who were clad in the most sparkly, bright colors you could ever imagine. There was choreographed dancing and massive amounts of food. To say I was out of place in my everyday clothes and head covering, not understanding more than 5 words of Dari, is an understatement.

Thankfully, I was approached by a beautiful, energetic girl with long hair, who much to my delight, spoke English. She chatted away about her family, her sister's arranged marriage, and her household duties. She was my age exactly, 22, and I distinctly remember her stating proudly that she could cook and serve a meal for 10 people. For you seasoned dinner hosts out there, this may seem like nothing, but at the time, all I could think was, "I may be able to boil enough noodles for that many people, if I could find a big enough pot." How odd, I don't recall the specifics of the arranged marriage conversation (a foreign concept to me), but I clearly remember the part about her hosting abilities.

Ya'll ... 6 years later ... this past weekend ... I successfully planned a party for and fed 100! Jesus definitely still has me beat with 5,000, but I was psyched!

How to accomplish this? Know the right people! Party planning is all about delegation. Do what you do best and in the areas you lack know-how, find someone who has it.

First, we all know the crown jewel of a pig pickin' (which is what this party was) is ... the pig. If the barbeque is sub-par, honestly, what is the point? That is why if you plan on throwing one, I highly suggest being friends with a person who owns and operates one of these.

Now, you may be thinking, "Katherine, where would one find such a friend?" The answer ...  Clover, SC. This particular one-of-a-kind roasting trailer is the property of a guy at our church, whose uncle has a welding business. I don't think that such a person should be too hard for you hunt down. If we can do it, so can you.


Next, every good party needs a good cake. For this, it's beneficial to know a baker, capable of creating delicious, sugary wonders out of her own home. Funny, a sweet woman like this one just described happens to attend our church. She was responsible for this awesome treat! Every single bite of this cake was eaten, including the red graduation cap. Our 7-year-old guest made sure of that! I think I ate Trey's diploma.

(Note also the pictures of folks in graduation attire behind the cake. These are our graduates with their spouses! I unassumingly took pictures of them together that morning at the graduation ceremony and printed them off at Rite Aid on the way home. Fun detail.)

A party supply warehouse is also helpful. I suggest living on the church property as we do. You will then have access to enough tables, chairs, coolers, drink coolers, and corn hole boards to greet and seat everyone.

Also essential, laborers. Carriers, movers, drivers, collectors, planters, diggers, doers. Luckily, I'm married to one of those. In the days leading up the party Mark moved 50 folding chairs, 6 long tables, 3 sets of corn hole boards, 2 colorful rugs, and a partridge in a pear tree. He also mulched the yard, got tons of ice, washed dishes, collected firewood and s'more sticks, made 5 gallons of sweet tea and 3 gallons of pink lemonade, took care of the trashcans, and happily reassured his slightly frantic wife whenever her lists seemed a little too long. Here is the superman in action.

Finally, the last group of necessary people for a successful party are phenomenal guests! We invited six, unconnected, proud families and many good friends. Together we celebrated the completion of seminary in style. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was light, and the weather could not have been more perfect, but the guests are what really set this party apart. Thank you to everyone who made this sweet time possible.

Here at the end, I'd like to list a few ideas that added a little something extra to the party!

1. Corn hole tournament - A good hour was spent diligently drawing out a bracket for 30 teams. This means that 60 people participated, including Andy's 80 year old grandma! These brackets are easily attainable online. Our tennis pro friend kept the games rolling so we could finish before dark, but the tournament was a great way for practical strangers to interact and get to know one another.

2. Picture Decorations = Party Favors - Our group of friends has had three or so years of good times. Behind the main food table, on two strands of twine, I hung pictures representing these times. Naturally, the graduates were featured the most (as it was their party), but I tried to include others as well. People love to see pictures of themselves, and it was a fun little trip down memory lane for us all. At the end of the night, guests were encouraged to take home pictures as a favor!

3. Carport Coziness - The afternoon heat here in South Carolina can be something fierce. Thus, we attempted to spruce up our carport to offer guests a pretty, comfortable, shady seating option! Throughout the course of the evening, this spot was used by at least four different groups of people.

4. Finally, I had fun myself! - When a host looks and acts stressed out, everyone instinctively feels the need to help ... which means guests are then working, not partying! In order to accomplish this,


- Plan, plan, plan! Have as much done the day before the party as possible, so the day of, just last minute details need to be attended to.

- Eat the food (and get yourself a drink). You are always your better self with a full stomach.

- Roll with punches. Everything will not go perfectly. Accept this fact beforehand, and resolve to have a good time regardless.

Party planning is definitely a skill that can be acquired with age and practice. I was raised in the home of a meticulous party planner, having the good fortune of observing seamless parties thrown by my mother. I have continually learned through the numerous parties and showers thrown by my awesome seminary friends and through the miracle working women at my church.

In the end, I think the thing turned out alright. My Afghan friend would have been proud.



Lesson Learned: At a party, more is more. More guests is a bigger tournament and more fun. More food means leftovers. Having leftovers is never a bad thing!








4 comments:

  1. Great advice, photos, and stories! I'm still getting used to regular clubs/parties of 30-40 around here. I try not to be a stressed host, but I still tend to be too busy to socialize much myself. I look forward to getting better with practice! :)

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  2. Wow, 100 guests.. impressed.

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  3. :) ah..... Katherine ! I hear and see you through all of this- its kinda funny but cool too ! well done !!!!

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  4. awesome party. awesome friend (: and andy's grandmother is 88. just saying! (:

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