Solutions: Lessons learned from having a party or two

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Anyone who has hosted a party knows that entertaining takes a lot of effort, especially when it involves a crowd. To celebrate my daughter’s recent birthday, I reluctantly agreed to invite around 20 teenagers and a dozen adults to the house.

While I knew it wouldn’t be easy for me to pull off this feat, I had no idea how much sleep I would need after it was over.

Every time I go to someone else’s home I pick up some useful tips and I also learn a lot when it’s my turn to have the gathering. Here’s what I absorbed from my latest adventure:

Don’t plan on a party the week after your home repair is scheduled to be done because it will likely be delayed along the way, leaving the two worlds to collide – which means more work for you.

Get your family members to help with setup and cleanup because sharing the tasks makes it easier on everyone. They might even surpass your expectations as my daughter did when filling, arranging and handing out her goodie bags.

For all those errands that need to be done beforehand, you can count on new construction popping up along the way. Allow for extra time whenever possible.

Getting your dog groomed for the sake of the carpet might seem like a great idea, but he may still surprise you by waiting until the day of the party to start shedding again.

Ask for the dimensions of the cake box before you pick up the cake and the three bags of ice that do not fit in your freezer.

Make a list of everything you need to do and keep it for reference to remind yourself when to defrost the ice cream cake.

It’s okay to mix and match your leftover paper plates and napkins for the sake of being practical. Other than my mother, no one cares.

Borrow what you’re missing from a neighbor or friend, which is what I did with a metal cooler that was perfect for water bottles.

Some restaurants will deliver a large order for free if you live nearby. Taking them up on their offer means one less stop for you. Every establishment estimates their portions differently. No matter how hard you try to get it right, you’ll probably end up with plenty of leftovers.

Ask everyone to take home a plate of food so it doesn’t go to waste, and when people offer to help with anything, let them.

Don’t forget to look at the bright side and the big picture. After all the planning and organization, the fact that my daughter asked everyone for a donation to a children’s charity in lieu of gifts raised $500 for a good cause. Looking back, I have to say that made all the effort worthwhile.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at