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Bon Journal

Hosting vs guesting

As a party host, I often wonder if my guests know how much thought goes into the entire process of hosting: from inviting the guests to cleaning up. The invitation stage is more than a simple matter of sending out emails. I fix the date around certain critical people's schedules, for example someone who is leaving the country, a key performer, or someone I haven't seen for a long time. I also have to make sure the guests will get along without friction. In this sense, I go for the diversified portfolio approach to minimise risk. I ask the invitees to mark the date on their calendar so they won't forget. Later I remind them and ask if they've confirmed their attendance. The fun part is planning the programme. I plan the music programme with my musicians. I practise the music. I plan the food and drinks. There is so much preparation and organisation involved, but each time it gets easier.

While other people celebrate engagements, weddings, births, christening, and birthdays, I celebrate the full moon, cat's birthday, summer solstice, and other non-personal themes. I don't expect people to give me presents that last because I'm trying to control my clutter. And it's always a pleasure to get a post-party thank you whether by phone, email, card, or in person.

Today I spoke to a friend who spends more time as a guest than as a host. She complained that she spends a lot of time and money on other people's celebrations without getting much in return. Fair enough, as her friends get married and enter parenthood, she will find herself being left behind. The only remedy is to join the group (find a partner and get married) or find new friends that are single. The law of numbers tells us that if two people get married, they can have more than twice as many significant events to celebrate: their wedding, their anniversaries, their individual birthdays, their job promotions, their new house, .... in addition to the usual holiday festivities. And if they have children, the number of events explodes!

I would argue that it's a lot easier to be a guest than a host. Finding a present and taking the time to attend the party are probably more difficult than actually buying the present and enjoying the party. As a host who is also a (music) performer, I can't relax until after the performance. This means I can't eat or drink. I don't get to talk to my guests on a one-to-one basis.

I suppose I'm so busy hosting, that I don't have the problem of buying presents and being a guest. If I am invited to a party, I bring only things that I grow or make: houseplants, jams, or home-cooked food. So I never have the problem of spending too much money or time. As a guest, I can eat and drink without worry. Being a guest at other people's parties has one disadvantage. I don't know everyone. At my own parties, I bathe in the comfortable feeling of being surrounded by everyone I know.

10 August 2002 Saturday

Today is another one of those days that looks like it's going to rain any minute. At 4:42 pm it still hasn't rained. And I've been couped up inside, playing the piano, scanning photos, and updating my journal. Oh well - if Murphy is correct, it will rain the minute I go cycling. So I will just stay inside and wish for rain. At least, it will justify a day indoors.
It finally rained at 5:10 pm. Thank goodness for that!
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