Pay attention, and I’ll tell you the secret to the most awesome home parties: Know the weaknesses of your guests.
Here’s some examples from my own life:
Parental units: They no longer have children at home sucking them dry, they have actual real jobs, and their mortgage is almost paid off. This means they have a steady income – and they’re old enough that they no longer try to impress people with home-cooked meals (that’s a phase young parents go through). They’re also polite and reliable.
Conclusion: Whatever part of the party you assign to them will be bought, and will be high quality. It will also arrive on time and on the right day. Exploit this for all it’s worth.
Intellectuals/Writers: Poor. Addicted to sugar because they can’t afford alcohol.
Conclusion: Ask them to bring lollies. Their nose for cheap, tasty lollies is infallible. Plus they’re constantly on the verge of starvation, so they’ll inevitably impulse-buy far too much. Make sure they know in advance that there is going to be a free meal and a lift home.
Sidebar: Make sure you get them to take home any leftovers – especially meat or vegetables.
Sidebar #2: I had scurvy one time (self-diagnosed and self-treated with instant results). Another friend of mine used to look through university rubbish bins for scraps others had thrown away (before we met, obviously).
Extroverts: The default extrovert social occasion is, “Let’s go out for drinks” which means they live in a mental space that simply assumes wine must be present.
Conclusion: Ask them to bring drinks. Leave the interpretation of the word “drinks” up to them (but be aware that they probably won’t think to bring anything for those who don’t drink alcohol). They’re probably good for taking people home, too.
Vegetarians: Will probably have to cook their own meals at/before many parties.
Conclusion: See if they’d like to cook the main meal. It means they get to eat WITH everyone else, and the meal will probably be both healthy and delicious (assisting the intellectuals, and totally offsetting all the lollies).
Close friends: Love you.
Conclusion: Some friends can handle complicated tasks – others can’t. Since they’re close to you, they have specific likes and dislikes, and specific weaknesses. Individualise tasks accordingly – keeping reliability in mind as your #1 concern (eg don’t assign a vital ingredient to your heroin-addicted workmate).
My friend Ann has a weakness for cheese, so I tend to suggest it whenever she’s bringing something. It seriously paid off last week when she brought a BRAND NEW CHEESE.
Okay, it wasn’t a brand new cheese really – but it was to me. Can you believe I’d never had goat’s cheese before?
It’s a lot like really delicious cream cheese (but tastes nice by itself on a cracker). We ate it with quince paste (another substance new to me). It was a taste sensation and a personal revelation (that’s brie and hommus in the background, in case you’re wondering).
Today’s blog entry was brought to you by my new book How to manipulate friends and influence pizza.
Oh, and you can get away with ridiculously complex demands when it’s your birthday.