I hesitate to give a tutorial on parties, especially in the interest of not being bitter. This is not because I don’t enjoy telling people what to do, but because generally speaking, there’s no wrong way to throw a party. Even bitter parties. My brother-in-law and sister had a delightfully themed “Old Sad Bastards New Years Eve” party. It ended around 8 pm, I think.
No, any party is a good party, except when you HAVE TO throw a party. There’s almost nothing messier or more awkward than an obligatory party.
Several years ago a close friend of mine was expecting her second child. Her first was an adorable little girl and this new child was a boy. I exchanged frantic glances with my friend’s sister-in-law. Were we supposed to throw her a shower???
If so, we were already late to that one. She was only weeks away. Truly though, the horror was more for ourselves. We didn’t know ANYTHING about babies. Neither of us wanted one and neither of us expected to have one. It’s hard to throw a party for something you’ve got zero interest in.
It’s the exact reason I don’t throw Super Bowl parties.
The REAL fear, however, the one layered beneath having to get diapers and non-alcoholic drink options and pastel decorations, was that somehow I would lose my friend status by being negligent in the friendship duties of throwing a party for anything remotely resembling an occasion.
My friend reassured us that she expected no such thing. Graciousness incarnate, that one.
Now this is not a knock against sprinkle showers (showers for second babies), I’ve been to a couple of those and find them to be as innocuous and normal as a first baby shower.
No, this is about situations where somehow your friendship hinges on a party. I’m about 70% certain this isn’t a problem in male culture. It’s a strict female culture horror.
I’ve been a maid of honor in two different weddings. The first time I had to throw a shower practically on my own. Fortunately it was for my sister and even though I spaced on what decoration I wanted on the cake (I settled for it just saying her name, you know like claiming a food item in the company fridge. “Yvana”) she wasn’t able to unfriend me because she’s my sister. She’s stuck with me.
The second time I had to throw a wedding shower it went better. Because I didn’t throw it by myself and adults were present to supervise. So much better, friends. So much.
But I’ve capped out at two. I have a limit. Fortunately, my sub-par services aren’t in high demand. If you’re mediocre enough at something you never get asked to do it again. Win!
But, friends, I have met some really bitter, angry party throwers. They’re angry because they’re doing the socially correct thing and they resent it. They know that hosting the party makes them the “good” friend and so they’re being the good friend and gritting their teeth trying not to curse the bride and marriage in general.
You want to know how you get bitter single women? Force them into merriment for an institution they don’t partake in, and then ask them to fork over a present and several hundred in planning supplies with the guarantee that “someday someone will do this for you”…if you ever get married.
So I have two pieces of advice for singles here.
Don’t throw a party you don’t want to go to. It’s pretty simple, this. If you didn’t want to do it, don’t do it. All it builds in you is resentment for the friend you’re supposed to love. Don’t hate someone because of a social construct they didn’t ask to be part of. They just wanted to be married, or a parent. It’s not their fault society insists on parties for relational success.
This next piece of advice is harder and messier and not perfect, so bear with me. Learn how to enjoy parties for things you may never have. Learn how to celebrate the milestones of those you love — because you DO love them, right? If you don’t, I wouldn’t even bother going to that party at all. It’s not worth whatever social currency you think you’ll get out of it.
And as a note to those with the relational success so many singles crave: don’t forget to celebrate you single friends. Celebrate the random moments. The friendship milestones. Lavish on them the love they lavish on you, but do it just because, because sharing love begets more love.
And that’s worth having a party for!