Today it was my birthday party – lucky me!!!!!
As per tradition, I invited all of my friends, and as usual, only one or two couldn’t make it, so we were a full house.
Themes were set and invitations were sent a more than a month in advance and an RSVP date was given (and promptly ignored), and we also planned out any games and meals. We began preparing the ingredients two days before the party, purchasing the mats and other things needed to make sushi as well as assorted sweets, a movie, and various other foodstuffs and prizes. Cakes and cupcakes were made the day before, and the gingerbread house was built. The house was tidied up and cleared so that there was room for the 15 of us (not including my family), and everything was ready.
Then, all I had to do was wait. From my experiences of birthdays in New Zealand, if you invite a considerable number of people to a party, there is an inevitable one hour gap between the time you announce the party will begin and the time when it actually does – so now I plan and use foresight! (meaning that I put the time as an hour before I want everyone to arrive). This generally works very well, although it’s a bit awkward if a couple of people end up coming on time, so you sit there for half an hour waiting for everyone else to arrive (unless you’re someone really special and can hold a conversation with three people who don’t know each other for more than the 3 minutes they’ve spent together so far).
It was fun!!!!
At least, I had fun.
And this is my dilemma at the moment, or at least, part of it. I don’t really know if anyone else, apart from me, had fun. Because when you have 15 guests, and half of them have only met once, which was at your last birthday party, and since then have completely forgotten each other, and most have maybe one or two other people who have things in common, it’s a bit hard to pay attention to everybody. Especially in a house meant for 5. So every year, I end up sitting in the middle of the room and participating in three conversations about three utterly different topics while missing out on the other four, or I have no idea what everyone else is talking about and I try to gauge people’s enjoyment levels as I circulate and smile and nod (just smile and wave boys, smile and wave) every once in a while.
Of course, as people leave, they always very politely say thank you for having me, and I enjoyed it, but in NZ society, this is the right thing to do, never mind if you actually had a horrible time or felt left out or whatever. I just send out an email thanking them for coming and hope they did have fun.
So I have considered tactics, and am now thinking of trying a different technique – the more intimate ‘invite your 5 or so close friends and do something special with them’ type of party. But this brings on a new host of problems, such as what type of special thing? (going to a restaurant is too stilted and formal, and I’ve already done a pizza party and a picnic and bowling and ice-skating and a sleepover and a movie party – what else is there that isn’t too expensive and far-fetched?) and another important one – who are my close friends? This is a very ambiguous topic, as I don’t classify my friends with such tags, and also, if I were to invite some of my friends, what would the others think? I wouldn’t want to exclude anybody and cause them to feel left out, because that’s rude and might also foster feelings of resentment.
Which is probably why I am typing about this subject – I still haven’t decided which style of party is better.
If you have any opinions (the 0 people reading this – I know you’re going to comment any minute now), I’d be really interested in reading them, as I have had this discussion with myself for the past few years, and I still haven’t reached a satisfactory answer.