(Los Angeles, CA) Special events call for celebration: a dear friend getting married, a beloved cousin expecting, and another beloved cousin’s baby celebrating a first birthday. But throw in work night meetings, a dentist appointment, and a concert and they amount to a busy first half of September — particularly for one woman, whose hobbies include lying on the couch and watching reality television. But despite her tendency towards veg-like immobility, the woman strongly believes that important events call for recognition and was happy to offer help with hosting as well as attending in entertaining fashion. And her participation reveals much about the woman’s personality as it does her philosophy.
As it usually takes some effort to reverse her inertia, of the projects the woman does choose to undertake, full effort and skill are applied. Using the keys to successful party planning, preparation, organization, and knowledge of guests, the woman strives to put the best event on.
Preparation is based on the ability to anticipate and plan accordingly. Thinking ahead is critical not only in the days (or hours) leading up to an event, but in its smooth execution. And particular to the woman, any trip or effort is strategically planned to maximize efficiency and productivity, factoring in spatial relationships and carrying capacity. Even mundane work tasks, like needing to make a photocopy means taking along her water bottles for refilling, and returning the project file to a colleague down the hall. A trip that accomplishes only one task is considered a failure. For travel efficiencies for her Bay Area trip in early September, the woman packed her suitcase with pre-selected outfits for the entire weekend. No extra tops or skirts were added “just in case.” And with organization seems the opposite of Murphy’s Law — when one is organized, what can go wrong usually does not. Her commute to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was flawless, with total time from FlyAway terminal drop-off to gate arrival in five minutes. Arriving so early allowed her time to continue preparations for the weekend ahead.
Organization relies on establishing a system of tracking and managing information for easy accessibility. Lists and notes are often tools used to ensure all tasks are completed. As host to her friend’s Bachelorette Party, the woman continually tracked head counts and attending guests to the various events of the day: lunch, spa, and dinner. As head counts changed, and continued to change throughout the day, the woman managed to help the day go smoothly through her detailed lists. The spa visit was particularly challenging as each guest booked either a spa package or service, which depending on the service included appointment times and/or gender preference (for massages).
Knowledge of guests, and doing one’s best to consider and accommodate accordingly, enhances the party experience. As the bride-to-be loves food, and being mellow, the bachelorette party was crafted with these in mind. Lunch and dinner were of generous portions and deliciousness. The spa created five hours’ worth of laughing, talking, soaking and relaxing time for the bride-to-be and close friends. The baby shower was also designed with the parents-to-be in mind. Beyond the typical color selection for the sex of the fetus, the menu was planned for the gluten-sensitive future father, and their combined love for good Mexican food lacking in England. The shower favors were also selected with the future parents in mind: pen and notepad along with treats from her parents’ farm. Knowing the future mother also enjoys sweets inspired candy and Rice Krispies Treats for the shower. And by no small coincidence, the woman also enjoys candy and Rice Krispies Treats.
The success of these events, best measured by the enjoyment of the guest(s) of honor, were due in part by the woman’s prior experience. In navigating a large venue for media relations and game-night entertainment positions, the woman quickly learned to group tasks to save time and effort.
“The copy machine was in the depths of the Forum,” the woman recounted, “along with the computer we used for out-of-town [sports] scores. If you needed to go to the press box, or the office, it was best you did all your tasks together.”
“Or run the risk of being that [lame] intern, running down the halls.”
The woman eventually moved on to weddings, having now served as a day-of wedding coordinator for two family members and a good friend. The difficulty, particularly with day-of coordination, lies in having to learn all of the wedding details in a short span.
“Knowing when and where everything is supposed to happen,” confided the woman, “versus what actually must happen or the bride will be upset or disappointed, requires skill. I’m used to having to think on my feet,” the woman continued. “It’s all about anticipation, and making sure they have nothing to worry about.”
Much of the woman’s performance is based on her personal need as well as desire for success. However, when something does not go right, the woman’s less positive traits are revealed: insecurities, perfectionist tendencies, and awkwardness.
Emotional insecurity results in lack of confidence from fear that the positive state is temporary. While generally confident in her ability to organize and plan well, the woman is also plagued with uncertainty. This translates to a need for affirmation and praise in the woman’s ability. Partly out of self-deprecation, partly out of insecurity, the woman has found herself asking guests, including the guest of honor, if everything is “all right.”
“Being insecure during a party doesn’t help any,” the woman confided. “Guests should be able to enjoy the party, and not have to worry about making the host feel better. But sometimes, I can’t help it. I want to know that I’m doing a good job.”
The woman also battles with perfectionist tendencies, which runs counter to a positive party environment when sometimes less is more. Staying on schedule is one area where the woman struggles between keeping to the allotted time, and allowing a party to transition organically, allowing guests not to feel rushed or forced into an unnatural ceremony.
“It was ‘time’ to open the baby shower gifts,” the woman recalled, “but the mother-to-be was still eating and catching up [with good friends]. I didn’t want to rush her, but at the same time we only had a limited time. I’m sure if anyone was watching me, my expression would’ve given away my growing anxiousness.”
She also struggles with the need to point out things that could have been better, when given compliments. Touted under the spirit of honesty, the woman often makes self-deprecating remarks when being praised.
“It’s only fair,” the woman insisted. “Everyone had a great time at the spa, but I should have scheduled the appointment times a bit later. We rushed a bit at the end through lunch, and then everyone had to run off to their appointments.”
The woman had long deemed herself an awkward person. Not always quick to the subtleties of human behavior, she often realizes later of missteps in her behavior. And when she is in “host” mode, her personal need to be in control and “on top of things,” often seems to leave her more as polite drill sergeant than effortless, gracious host.
“Rounding up everyone after the spa, and making sure that things went smoothly with check-out, was a bit of an ordeal,” the woman shared. “As a kind gesture, the other spa guests beforehand were more than happy to chip in for the bride-to-be’s massage. For efficiency and speed however, I went ahead and checked the bride out. As I returned to where all the guests were waiting, the bride-to-be asked about her treatment. I said, a bit too efficiently, ‘I took care of it. All done!'”
“In my need for efficiency,” the woman went on, “I missed an opportunity to say a few kind words on behalf of everyone who contributed, about everyone’s generosity and our hopes that the bride enjoyed the spa and her massage.”
But among the busyness, the highs and the lows, there were times of true enjoyment. The woman was able to spend quality time with beloved cousins who live abroad and near, and with her newest cousin-once-removed. She has also become quite adept at soothing a baby; it helps that options are limited to hunger, tiredness, or need for diaper change. She was able to eat indulgently, coming off of a four-week cleanse that restricted cheese and caffeine among other delicious things. She was also able to enjoy laughing at herself at faux pas, including overeating immediately before her massage. And lastly, laughing at other people — rather at people who invite such laughter. Hipsters who clap ironically, deserve a bit of laughing at, particularly when they dress in high-top Converse, skinny jeans, checkered button-down shirt neatly tucked in, and black bow tie complementing his neck tattoos.
So despite more social interactions and energy expended than the woman musters in months, she is more than happy to help you with your next celebration. Only please, allow her some time to sleep and catch up on “Toddlers & Tiaras.”