I didn’t want to end up doing all the work, so this devolved into a fight in which I had to cool off by going away for an hour (fortunately, only one person arrived for the party in the meantime). My husband declared later that I didn’t trust him to throw a party. But in my mind, we’re in our forties and this wasn’t a 13-year-old sleepover with a bag of cheez-doodles.
So I’d just love to hear: What’s your take (and the hive mind’s take) on this whole throwing a joint party jazz when you both have completely different visions of how to host multiple guests? Also, any recommendations for avoiding this minefield next time, even if it’s only my getting my mind in a different place? — Party Pooped
Gosh, would you really say you and your husband have “completely different visions of how to host multiple guests”? I don’t know, call me crazy, but one person wanting to pile refreshments in bags on the counter (i.e. be lazy) and another person wanting to arrange them on a platter doesn’t scream “wildly different visions” to me. A Great Gatsby-themed party vs. a hipster barn BBQ? Those are different visions. Disagreeing over whether or not to pile bagged-up refreshments on the counter vs. presenting them on platters just doesn’t seem to warrant a one-hour freak-out. And frankly, even if you decided to do all the work yourself because your husband disagreed with the need to actually, you know, be a host, I can’t imagine that throwing some pretzels and chips in a bowl along with a little dip, and arranging some finger sandwiches or whatever on a plate, would take more than a few minutes? You certainly could have prepared adequately in the hour you spent outside “cooling down.” Hell, I’ve thrown parties on my own where I actually cooked and baked and prepared (and served) multiple hors d’oeuvres for dozens of people, set up a bar, made a house cocktail, and did some cleaning and light decorating, and even all of that didn’t take more than a five or six hours of prep work (granted, I’m organized as hell and this was years before I had a young child underfoot and was adequately rested for such a feat, but still).
Basically, I think you over-reacted and, if you wanted stuff arranged, you could have just done it yourself in half the amount of time you spent pouting over your husband not helping you. BUT, you do raise an interesting question. When a couple’s vision of a party really DOES completely differ or when one person in the couple wants to throw a party and the other doesn’t, what do you do? In that case, I say see if there’s a way to compromise and take the most-wanted aspects of either party (say, the flapper attire and Gin Rickey cocktails of the Great Gatsby party and hay seating and BBQ ribs of the barn party) and combine them into one fantastical, festive shin-dig that people will be talking about for a long time. (It’s the weird, combination themes that are often the most fun and memorable. I still remember a party a friend threw like 15 years ago themed “80s ski lodge.” I wore a pink and purple ski suit, a side ponytail and blue eyeshadow. We drank Hot Toddies and listened to Michael Jackson).
If, however, you and your partner can’t even agree on combining aspects of your preferred styles and are steadfast in exactly the kind of party you each want to throw, no compromising, then I’d suggest you flip a coin to see whose idea wins for this party and then the other person gets his or her first choice the next time. Or, you wait until it’s one of your birthdays and the other person really has no choice but to honor your wishes.
And if one person wants to throw a party and the other doesn’t, then the couple should discuss why and try to trouble-shoot potential issues (drop off kids with the grandparents for the night; hire a cleaning service after the party; don’t invite stupid people who are likely to do stupid stuff; rent a space other than your own home; make sure there’s lots of toilet paper). But if the anti-party person just really hates parties and simply doesn’t want to attend one, let alone host one, the couple should pick a time when the person who is anti-party either has or can make other plans, and the party-person can do his or her own thing on her budget and within her desired effort level.
Also, I would really like to go to a Great Gatsby Hipster Barn BBQ, so, if you throw one, think about sending me an invite? I’ll bring good gin!
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].