I have been giving parties since childhood, usually successfully, sometimes disastrously. I'll never forget the time I offered to serve a special breakfast to my visiting grandparents. Having printed out a menu, I then made each person wait while I cooked orders individually; only sheer love could account for how they choked back their rubbery eggs, cold bacon, and pancakes oozing slime. On the plus side, our household has seen a lot of joy from parties. If I had to sum up all this experience in a sentence, it would be this: Good parties solve problems.
I'm not talking about the standard advice from the etiquette experts about how to handle spilled drinks, ruined furniture, and so forth. I'm talking about what happens way before that, at the planning stages. Find a need and meet it: that's the kernel, the essence, of a party with legs. Good parties solve problems.
Years ago, I noticed that the first day of school was a problem for me, a stay-at-home mother in a new town. I'd drop my son off, go back home, and feel sad. Then I noticed (thanks, social media), that others were feeling much the same way, and it wasn't just a stay-at-home mom thing, either. What would happen, I wondered, if we got together and partied instead? The next year, a champagne brunch was born, and it was such a smash that we gathered again yearly, with some guests even taking time off from work for the occasion. Good parties solve problems.
I find that December can be a problem. There's so much going on, and many of us dread Christmas Eve and Day, wondering how we'll get through the holiday without falling apart from grief or stress. Things are considerably quieter during the rest of winter break, so if I'm going to gather people for a Christmas party, that's when I like to do it. (The season does last twelve days, after all.) We've had great success in the past with Christmas musicales held at that time, inviting guests to perform music or poetry. People don't have enough opportunity to show their talents. Good parties solve problems.
Finally, for you real loyalists who have read this far, consider bringing a meal to share with someone as your gift to them. The guests could be people in mourning, a hardworking group of colleagues, volunteers in need of thanks, and the list goes on and on. I'm especially fond of bringing lunch to church staff during Holy Week.
The world needs connection.
Good parties solve problems.