The other day I had a conversation with a friend whom I admire very much for her strength and grace. She also tops my list of brave hostesses this week for staring down a dinner party in her own home for forty on two weeks notice and never flinching. Did I mention that she too has a brand new baby and a two year old running around, just like yours truly? And that the guest list is entirely people who work for her Husband? That she intends to cook it herself? Yes, so you can believe that when she related this endeavor to me I had to go home and take a long snooze.
It is the perfect storm: Little time to gather your thoughts, two people who mean to keep you from gathering them, forty guests likely to judge more than others, and dinner. It is all one can do not to crawl under the table with their magnum and pray for an intervention of fate.0
When she mentioned this event, I quickly volunteered to help with whatever she needed. I could watch the children, help with the dinner service, make drinks, or answer the door. When I said that, I think she was surprised or did not know how to receive the offer of help. (Now, I will grant you, this blog is 376 reasons why one might not want me at a party - but really, I am very fun and only write about your party when you have told me I could. Really.).
(On another note, I love the fact that hostesses have returned business dinners to their homes instead of restaurant dining rooms. I will do whatever I can to help and advance the return of this practice. But I digress. )
With regard to lending a hand, I come from a land of thoughtful, capable hostesses who will never allow you to fall. They would sooner leap from the turret with the canape tray than allow you to be harried or not enjoy your own party. Remember Dori helping with the food in the kitchen at the Christmas cocktail party for seventy-five? What would I have done had a hostess of similar training not been in the trenches that day?
Same goes for my beautiful friend Jennifer, remember her lovely hunt country Christmas party?
I think often of the long days my Godmother, Margaret, has put in helping my Mother and I with charity luncheons and all manner of parties at home. She and her mighty group of four sisters are the best mix of careful, direct, ballerina-like hostesses. There is not chatter about what needs to be done, just hands and skirts moving around the house in the long-ago learned dance of their fore-hostesses. Perfectionists, but gently so.
So, yes, I will help. I will get my hands dirty. I will park cars. I will wear a lovely but innocuous outfit and do what needed done without socializing. Because I am a friend and this is about the success of an undertaking of a valued person in my world and what it means to her family professionally. We are all in this together, and in some professions, entertaining contributes heavily to survival.
Have you stepped from the spotlight to help? Please share with us.
*A quick tip regarding entertaining employees: When you entertain for people who report to you, all things are instructive. For this reason, it is critical to set good examples right down to the choice of food. It needs to be clean, fresh and healthy as a nod to how you care for these people and their welfare. Also, take care not to be pretentious, it may cause discord later. But be certain you serve and treat them like honored guests: they take very good care of you and your livelihood and you should take every opportunity to do the same.