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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hostess With The Mostess

Party planning takes a lot of work, and the bigger the party, the more stressful it can be! Having hosted and attended many parties is my lifetime, I want to share some basic tips to ensuring a successful celebration for all.
Obviously having a clean, and clutter free environment should be a no brainer, but as I've written before, some people think picking up, is the same thing as cleaning. Guests may not be giving your home a white glove inspection, but they do notice a lot more than you think they do. Having a clean home is an absolute must in party planning.

Make sure your home is comfortable and inviting. Making guests remove their shoes, or taking a woman's purse/handbag without her permission is a huge offense. Be sure to have pleasant background music, and plenty of seats for your guests to relax in. Standing room only can leave guest uncomfortable and looking for an excuse to leave early.

It's hard for most people to know what their own home smells like. We become accustomed to everyday scents in our home that are very obvious to other people from the moment they walk in the door. Lighting a few scented candles, using some plug-in scents, or using some deodorizers to give your home a pleasant, but not overpowering, scent will contribute to the welcoming environment for your party.

Fresh linens, hand towels, and nice hand soap should always be available for your guests in each bathroom. Make sure your extra rolls of toilet paper are easy for guests to find. Decent toilet paper for your guests is a major plus! Having had this conversation with many other ladies, it is a major issue for women to be stuck using single ply economy toilet paper. You know...the kind that feels like coarse tissue paper, but takes 3 handfuls just to get the job done right! Do your guests a favor and spend a few extra dollars on some softer, thicker toilet paper! Considering that I just got a text from my sister-in-law on Christmas day regarding is exact issue, it affirms once again that I am not alone in this complaint.

Whether you are catering in, cooking, or a pot luck, having enough food and beverages for everyone is crucial. This takes some planning and consideration, but the saying "having too much is better than not having enough" is very true. Always consider every guest. Will there be cocktails, or just beer and wine? Do you have enough soda and/or bottled water? Does any of your guests have a specific allergy you need to address (this goes for food, and pets)? Is there a wide variety to satisfy each guests preference or picky pallet? If you are hosting, you are responsible for making sure all of your guests are taken care of.

If you are hosting a holiday and/or themed event, be sure your decorations are pleasing and unoffensive. Be sure to have enough party favors for everyone, and maybe a few extra just in case. You may have a few surprise guests show up right before midnight on New Year's Eve, and having a few extra hats, horns, and noisemakers will help make everyone's celebration feel special!
Hosting a well planned and prepared party will help reduce your stress level as the host, and ensure your guests have a wonderful time. Following these simple rules will have your guests calling you the "Host/Hostess With The Mostess" after every party you host!

Have a Happy New Year!

What is your biggest pet peeve when attending a party? Do you have any party planning strategies that help ensure your parties are a success?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It Takes A Real Woman To Build Up A Real Man

In today's modern society we see a growing number of women leading independent, driven, and successful lives. Women are taking on multiple roles by becoming highly educated, productive, self sufficient, and empowered. Just 50 years ago most women (from a middle class stand point) were housewives and mothers. Their primary job was to run the house (cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.), look after the children, and look good while doing it. Today most women do not even get married or have children until they are in their 30's. Stay at home mothers are few and far between, and no man had dare suggest they have the house clean, homework done, dinner on the table, AND look good by the time he gets home! However, with the empowerment of women, and de-masculinity of men, there have been detrimental consequences to how men and women relate to each other.

Before anyone starts to get upset, I am not condemning women for wanting equal educations, and equal opportunities as men. But, we cannot deny that gender rolls do, and should exist. Men, for example, cannot (under natural circumstances) give birth to babies, or breastfeed. I see nothing wrong with a woman having a career, and being a wife and mother if she chooses to do so. I also fully support women who wish to resume the traditional role of housewife and stay at home mother. I think the point is we now have the choice to do either. It is when we take our independence to an extreme that changes gender roles, and that I do have a problem with.

Fifty years ago it was unheard of for a woman to pay for her own dinner, open her own doors, or carry in her own packages and bags when there were men around. A lot of women today refuse to let men do these things for them. Consequently, men now feel that they don't have to do these things, or even take care of women in any way. Men no longer look at women with respect, but merely objects of desire. Men are no longer trying to be superhero's, but are now trying to be players. When women marry these men, they soon begin to complain of their laziness, their lack of interest in romance, and their selfish behavior. How do women expect men to step up to the role of a good husband, when they refused to allow them the role of good men right from the beginning!
It is to the modern woman that I pose these questions:

What is wrong with allowing a man to pay for your drinks or dinner? Does it take away your self dignity, or your feminine power? On the contrary, I think it empowers you as a woman by having expectations on how you wish to be treated if he wishes to date you.

Why don't you let a man open doors, or carry packages for you? Does it show that you are weak, or too fragile to do these things for yourself? Absolutely not! It shows that you deserve to be respected and treated like the amazing woman you are.

I write this post from personal experience. I too was once that woman who thought is was debasing to allow a man to do things for me. That is... until I met my husband. Ken showed me that real men want to treat their women with respect, love, and a little pampering. By allowing men to do little things for us it builds them up to want to be more of a man for us...to be our hero, our prince, our knight in shining armor. It does not make us less than men, it makes men have to be more. Personally, I believe that all women deserve no less!

What is your stance on this topic? Are you for, or against men giving special treatment to women?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Affirmations

Christmastime is a wonderful time of year for the giving of affirmations. Every little thing about this season is a way to give someone else an affirmation of appreciation. From mailing out Christmas cards to friends and family, to baking treats for neighbors, or even giving a little something extra to your hairdresser, server, paperboy, or regular delivery person. Even most businesses and organizations host Christmas parties for their employees and volunteers.
I have had quite a wide range of Christmas party experiences in my lifetime. Some are held in fancy ballrooms with 5 course meals, drinks and dancing. Some have a “Secret Santa” with employee’s picking names to buy gifts for other employee’s or playing a fun game of White Elephant, some plan parties at restaurants, homes, or at the workplace. My current boss always finds a way to make the season special, and this year she took us out for a “Girl’s Day Out” which included lunch with cocktails and relaxing pedicures.  The most important aspect to remember is this is a chance to tell employee’s that they are appreciated and to find a way to show it.

Making sure your holiday events are well thought out, fun and festive will help show employees that they are appreciated. When employees truly feel appreciated they work harder, and are more dedicated to their position.  This is why well known companies like Google, make an effort to not only host amazing holiday parties for employee’s, but to make every day fun and enjoyable. It is a well known fact that companies who keep their employees happy, and feeling appreciated, have a more productive staff. When planning your next Christmas party, try to find a new way to do something extra special for your employee’s and let them see how much they really mean to your company.  Personally, I can say my current boss is extremely generous and I truly enjoy working for her!

What is your favorite Christmas party activity? Does your employer do something special for Christmas?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hostess Gifts or BYOB?

A few months after my husband and I got married, we decided it was time to host a party. Invites were sent out, and approximately fifteen people responded they would be coming. Just before the guests began to arrive I mentioned to my husband that I was curious to see if anyone would bring a hostess gift. Surely, out of fifteen guests, one of them would bring a bottle of wine! Surprisingly, every guest arrived empty handed.
Over the years I have noticed a significant decline of hostess gifts, and a significant increase of invitations requesting guests to “Please bring a dish or drink to share” or “BYOB” etc. The obvious conclusion is when guests are no longer willingly bringing the host/hostess a bottle of wine or treat, that would most likely be opened and shared with the guests, all of the expenses to throw a party are placed solely on the host/hostess.  Therefore, guests are now being asked to bring things that should be given automatically.

Presenting a host/hostess with a gift is a nice way of thanking them for hosting the event, and for inviting you to join them. A good friend of mine recently told me a story of a dinner party that she hosted for another couple. When they arrived the male guest gave her a bouquet of flowers. Her reaction was that of confusion, embarrassment, and slight annoyance. The only men who have ever given her flowers were her father, and her husband. To her, a bouquet of flowers was a very personal gift…one that signified love, and devotion. Having never been taught about, or received a hostess gift, she had no idea that a bouquet of flowers from an invited guest was traditional etiquette. Why has this age old custom slowly disappeared?

As the Christmas season begins, and your days begin to fill with holiday celebrations, remember to be a courteous guest, and bring a gift for your host/hostess. This simple gesture will be much appreciated, and possibly reciprocated in the future.

How do you feel about host/hostess gifts? Do you make a point to always give your host/hostess gift?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dressed To Impress!

Throughout my adult life I have continuously been amazed by the ever declining need for people to "dress up." Over the past year I have noticed it even more. Whether we were attending an evening performance of Les Miserable at the theater, at a wedding, or even a funeral...a good majority of people are dressed casually and sometimes in plain jeans and t-shirts. It seems to me that attending a "special event" has lost it's special-ness.

Ever since I was little I have always preferred dressing up to dressing down, skirts over pants, and heels over flats. I have always thought that attending special events required dressing up as a sign of respect...respect for the hosts, other guests, and the event itself. I also think it would be nice to be able to wear a nice dress, bought for a wedding, more than once. It seems to me that the lazier our society becomes, especially when it comes to physical appearance, the less respect we hold for other people. I have always held the belief that etiquette, and morals/ethics are intrinsically connected. With the decline of one, comes the decline of the others. Consequently, if someone is dressed like a bum, then they can't complain if they are treated like a bum, and vice versa.

Here is a picture of my Grandfather at an event for Cadillac in Detroit.
Have you ever noticed how nice images of 1950's parties are? Everyone is always dressed so elegantly, talking, dancing, playing adult games, and enjoying each other's company. If you are spending an evening with people you really like, and enjoy being with, wouldn't you want to look your best for them? Going to a social event in clothes you just threw on, with barely any thought on what your hair or face looks like, with the attitude of "I don't need anyone's acknowledgement, and/or approval" is such a pessimistic way to live life. In fact, studies have shown that people who put more effort into their appearance on a daily basis have more confidence, interact more positively with other people, and are generally happier with themselves. Now, I'm not saying there aren't occasions for a more casual appearance (picnics and barbecue's, girl's nights in, shopping with friends, etc.), but I think it would be so nice to see people put more effort into their appearance... especially for special events.

How do you feel about dressing up? Would you like to see a revival of 1950's style cocktail parties, or you rather everyone dress more casually?