Whose Party Is This?

Posted by Dave

Twice in the past year, I have attended 80th birthday parties which failed in their primary goal (to praise the honorees and entertain their special guests) – and both for the same reason: somebody forgot whose party it was.

In each of the cases above, it was a child of the honoree who sabotaged the evening by trying to turn it into one which suited themselves. But I’ve seen the Best Man and parents of the bride do similar things at weddings, and – on one memorable night – I watched in horror and fascination as a tipsy bank president effectively ruined his future and a stockholders’ event at the same time.

Bluntly put: a party is all about pleasing the guest of honor (first and foremost) and that person’s honored guests. Every effort should be made so that the pacing of the event, its formality or lack thereof, its cuisine, its music (if any), and especially its speeches (if any) should reflect the taste and temperament of the honoree. Generally, at such occasions, a simple toast or short (very short) story told from the heart (ie. without notes) is far superior to “This Is Your Life” presentations, overlong videos, lame poems, and performances which take the spotlight away from the honoree.

At weddings (as noted elsewhere in these musings), the bride is the center of the event. Uncle Louie’s rendition of “New York, New York” or a groomsman’s amateur stand-up comic routine are not what brought those guests.

Deb balls, Quincineras, bar and bat mitzvahs, and anniversaries each have their points of focus. When anyone – even the host of the party – steals the spotlight away from those focal points, the party suffers (and – all too often – dies). A ton of work goes down the drain, all because somebody’s ego got in the way of the real goal of the event. They forgot to ask themselves, “Whose party is this?”

Don’t let that someone be you.


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