Thursday, March 19, 2009

Party Decorations ... and Dinner Party Etiquette Revisited

I have been having tons of fun with these old, crepe-paper decorating-idea books from Dennison Manufacturing that I've been collecting. These were published in the '20s and '30s and they are just chock full of fantastic ideas. I am really quite inspired to make up knitting patterns for all the decorations they have! Centerpieces could very well be one of my (many) next projects. There are still lots of these little decorating booklets out there on eBay, if you're as interested in old-fashioned fun, like I am!
I just have always loved decorating for a party. I have to admit, I'm not much of a party person. I like the decorating, the fixing of party favors and the baking and arranging of delicious foods and greeting everyone at the door (and then, if I could, I would leave)!!! See you! Have a great time! I'll just be upstairs now!
I am the youngest of 5 children, you see, and my siblings are 5-7-10 and 12 years older than I ... so they were all gone away while I was still young. I spent my teen-age years as pretty much an only child. As such, I attended and (helped be the hostess for) countless dinner parties. I got very good at planning, decorating and serving and, if I do say so, myself, I am even quite a very good listener, but it takes a lot out of me. I've never been a particularly social person, so every event was (and still is!) quite draining.
While still a teenager, I noticed a strange thing at dinner parties ... someone will inevitably start a story at the dinner table and everyone is focused on the speaker at first. But then, rather quietly and gradually at first, two-by-two, other little conversations break off into hushed whispers around the table, as if by whispering, no one will notice that they are not paying attention to the original speaker anymore! I became very good at remaining attentive to the poor guy who started his story. His (or her) eyes would hunt around the table and always find mine. I became quite adept at allowing people to finish their stories without having to just trail off into nothingness! As long as the speaker still had one listener, he could at least finish with some dignity!!! I knew just when to add an appropriate "AH!" or "Oh, I see!" while keeping a forkful of food hovering just so over my plate.
Also, it's simply a given that if you are attending a dinner party, you must bring a gift. A fabulous bottle of wine ... a gorgeous plant or floral arrangement ... perhaps a delectable dessert or maybe even a tiny toy for the house dog ... but you MUST remember this! It means so much to the host or hostess!!!
Here's another must: You must be able to ask more questions than you answer. It's common knowledge that everyone wants to talk about himself more than he wants to listen to others. So try not to chat much about yourself for an evening and just try asking questions and listening. It's amazing what you'll find out. You have the honor of remaining quite mysterious because you now know all kinds of things about everyone else, but they know hardly anything about you!
So keep these tips close at hand. Spring officially arrives tomorrow ... sowing the seeds for warm-weather parties and picnics!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Asking more questions than you answer! So true. That's how I survive being a minister's wife. I am not very social at all, but I am thrust into many social situations. My husband always remarks about my ability to get people to talk about themselves. Little does he know it's my clever trick at not revealing ANYTHING about myself!