Recently a dear friend gifted me with a birthday party. While it was a
great success, some things did not go as she planned. Doesn\’t that
always happen when we have folks over? Her response, however, has been
to declare that she is never going to entertain again. My suggestion is
that we break the experience down and examine what elements were
successful and which could have been handled differently for a better
outcome. In the case of entertaining, a better outcome is one where the
hostess is so relaxed she\’s enjoying her own party.

Here are some questions to help you create a Zen Organizer Party Planning Diary.

Are you ready to begin?

1. Find something to write in that you enjoy using…it could be a
beautiful leather bound notebook, your computer or anything in between
that will prompt you to keep up your entries.

2. Who were the guests? It\’s nice to keep track of who was invited to
which gathering at your home. You may want to make notes about your
guests: do some, for example, circulate easily and just naturally help
you co-host? As a single woman I know I frequently ask my more outgoing
guests to help me. If one loves music, I ask that friend to be sure
there is always music playing…another becomes the bartender and maybe a
third helps clear the table. You get the idea.

3. Was there a theme?

My friend had problems coordinating the food but she is a master at
creating environments. Because of my desire to travel to China this
year, she had a Chinese theme. It truly felt like a gathering for the
zen organizer the minute you entered the space.

4. What went well (be specific)? Was this the party you managed to get
all the hot food on the table at the same time…and the same
temperature? Did you try out a new wine and instantly knew you had a
party favorite? You see how this goes.

5. What did you learn i.e. what didn\’t go as planned that you would do differently in the future?

At my party we learned once again the importance of clear
communication. One of my dearest friends is a fabulous cook. When he
said he was going to make a special dip, we thought he was going to
make it at home and bring it with him. He meant he was going to make it
at the party!

This meant we had no dip for the first 90 minutes of the gathering and
there wasn\’t enough room in my friend\’s tiny kitchen for her to
complete her food tasks. Hence the green salad never got made! It was a
comedy of errors. On the positive side, we were all laughing and
enjoying each other so much, I think only the hostess noticed the
obvious lapse in food presentation.

6. If you entertained at home, was the house ready? If yes, what
schedule did you follow? Write it down as your blue print. If not, what
didn\’t get done? Were you shoving things in closets at the last minute?
Did you want to wash the kitchen floor and ran out of time? When all is
said and done, was anything you didn\’t do really not all that important
to the success of the party?

Before the guests arrived for my birthday party, my friend lamented
that she had not had time to wash the kitchen floor. When they left,
she said she was glad in the end that had happened. The floor was
filthy from all the extra traffic! Be sure you aren\’t overwhelming
yourself with the goal of perfection. Remember: the only realistic goal
is to do your personal best. Only God is perfect.

If you analyze your party planning, you will come up with a fool proof
strategy that will make entertaining a breeze. Parties…they aren\’t just
for people like Martha!