Hi ya, Revelers!
Now that we have been through the logistics and wrench-turning of party planning and you have a brief guideline to apply to gatherings large and small...
Thus far, we know about the party in question that it will be a cocktail buffet at home for a tree trimming party. Now, you have to put hands to keyboard (if you are really sharp like my husband's Mom and Grandmother and have Excel sheets of family and potential guests handy at any moment) or, in my case a dull pencil and the back of my cocktail napkin. But, choose a weapon then get naming names and address.
Now look, the real world is not like Real Housewives of Atlanta. If it were, I would have quit this gig and moved to Bermuda long ago. One does not invite people only to have a lackey check a guest list, not find their name, and turn them away at the door. While it is the ultimate in divisive snubs, it is also the ultimate in - you decide: Stupidity, smallness, or tastelessness. Either way, these sorts are not holding any party worthy of your attendance. When you invite people to do anything, for any reason, the best time will be had by all if your motivation is sincere and you are genuinely pleased to have that person as a guest.
Disclaimer: Mistakes have been made. The Hostess knows two lovely people who are married to two less than appealing guests: One is a hideous being when sober but the devil herself when allowed to consume alcohol: Loudly insults others. Falls over drunk. Oh, she is just insufferable. The other partner I mention is insufferable conversationally stone cold sober and a polarizing, offensive guest. They married perfectly well-mannered enjoyable people who we adored having as guests until we realized we were also stuck with their (party fatal) spouses. Seven years ago, when I was younger and more brave, I invited these couples, told the bartender whose drinks to water down, and figured we could handle their issues. Indeed, we were rendered completely incompetent hosts by their antics and no amount of interference helped. It was a mortifying experience for us and for our guests. I am still, all these years later, so disappointed to tell you that these people whom we adore are no longer invited into our home. Not only because we and our guests were gravely insulted and put out, but because these people also have dangerous inclinations towards alcohol consumption: A problem we are not willing to accept liability for should their actions lead to injury to themselves or others at our gathering or on the way home. No, you don't have to invite anyone and you certainly are under no obligation to deal with dangerous guests married to friends. While this is an insult of omission to some, it is far better than a world ending accident for others.
Smaller dinner parties require a good deal of consideration as to the guests in order to keep the conversation lively and all parties interested. Cocktail parties like ours are another issue all together and require a good large large group of likely agreeable types, all of who will find someone interesting to talk to in the mix. Don't get too caught up in this list, but do get hung up on the number you can accommodate and stick to it. Invite as many as the space can handle, not more. Do not assume, in this case, as at weddings, that 20 percent will decline. Plan as if you expect all and downsize as needed.
Got your list? Now you need an invitation. I do love evites but I also adore and save beautiful paper invitations sent with thoughtful stamps through the actual mail. I have a Junior League friend who exclusively uses evites now to put the cost savings into her parties and while many Hostesses of the old and venerable Bedford school will tell you this Internet thing is not acceptable, I dare say it better be! Guests are all over the world for months at a time, an evite will always find them! I can see no reason why you cannot do both if you choose: Send a Save the Date and then send an invitation in the mail.
There are reams of great invitation companies both on the Internet and brick and mortar in towns near you. I like to use a small business in town whenever I can but the downside is a busy season can cause the wait to receive your printed invites back can be three weeks with my vendor. I use www.finestationary.com if the wait is too long, they generally stock most of the invites I have been able to look at in a local store. Seeing and feeling the invite before buying it is key in either case: I want to know it is of good stock weight and that the colors are what they appear on the Internet. This is not necessary for all, I understand, after all, trust is the key in an professional relationship. But once they print it, Dear, you own it so do be careful.
I look for an invitation to be a fun piece of art that the guest will be happy to have on their fridge or memo board for a couple of weeks. I am fussy about color, texture, and size. Nothing should be overwhelming or an eyesore, always graceful, beautiful, and understated. At Christmas, I even enjoy an illustration!
Pencils and cocktail napkins poised? Off we go...
See you for Part 3!