Unless you throw parties all the time, heed my warning. If you let too much time go by between fiestas, you are asking for trouble.I never really thought about it when I was young, but you either keep your house ready to be inspected by friends and strangers — or you don’t. I was so star-struck by my beautiful new kitchen and guest bath, I entirely overlooked that the rest of the house would be on display as well.
As I began to seriously prepare for my little event, the kitchen shrank and the adjacent, neglected, beaten family room came into view like a 3-D action movie. The furniture had scuffed the walls, the chairs were raggedy, the couch needed a scrubbing and the mantle above the fireplace was black.
When you suddenly wander through the house, looking at it with the possibly critical eyes of a party guest, it’s more than sobering. It sent me flying to the nearest home and garden store with a list as long as my arm.
And then I realized that people would be going into my backyard, as well. Now I was truly in a panic, because around here, you need to sweep away those spiders and webs at the last possible moment. Doing it a week ahead, when you actually have the time and energy, would be an utter waste. Those industrious arachnids are back at it within hours.
So the day before the party, I spent hours sweeping, wiping, scraping and chasing eight-legged creatures and their detritus from patio furniture that had sat unprotected and untouched for almost a year.
I then flipped cushions, raked leaves and hid gardening tools. At the end of the day, I could scarcely lift my arms. And then I prayed the critters would stay at bay for at least 12 hours. No guest complained of crawly things, which I take as a victory.
Inexperience bit me again when the sun came out. I set up the bar where it looked most fetching. This turned out to be right where the sun shined brightest and got hottest. My iced drinks did not fare well. Somehow, a good time was had by all, including me.
I better understand now why some cultures celebrate things for a full week. My husband just reminded me that that would mean a week’s worth of cooking and dishes. Drat.
At least some of my house is ready for the holidays, but I’m counting on some rain to at least confine us to the inside. A good downpour and the low light of a roaring fire is a marvelous distraction.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer with fewer delusions of party grandeur. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.