Archive for March 24th, 2008

Those Unpredictable Holiday Weekends

Monday, March 24th, 2008

I attended three events this Easter weekend where those two words – “Easter weekend” – were a factor (one way or the other) in the attendance numbers of every gathering.

Two out of the three times, fewer folks than expected showed up. That happens a lot on holidays, when – if the weather is especially good (or especially bad) – plans tend to change at the last minute. At one of my events, the no-shows had paid for their tickets, so at least those putting on the party weren’t out any money. But there was an incredible amount of waste (more on this topic momentarily.)

Then, on Sunday, a rash of invitees who had not been expected to attend a family-hosted Open House apparently found themselves “at liberty.” By the time I arrived from another gathering, a mad rush for Easter eggs, baskets, chairs, and munchies was under way.

Please understand – all those who simply elected to show up were most welcome – they were just unanticipated.

What’s a holiday host to do? I see two main options (but if you think of others, please add your comments.)

1. Plan for more / expect less. It’s always a good idea to have extra food, drink, and folding chairs available. Don’t set up the chairs, or set out the food, until needed. (Otherwise, it only accentuates the fact that you had a lot of no-shows.) If possible, choose your emergency food and beverage stash from items that will store (or freeze) well, and keep for a long time. That way, items not used at your event won’t automatically go to waste. And, as long as you don’t mind facing that same casserole or bean dip – again and again – you will eventually eat your way through the left-overs.

2. Call or e-mail your guests one last time the morning of the event. As best as is possible, get a final head-count. By the day of the event, most guests will know if illness, weather, or other conflicts are going to be a factor. The numbers still won’t be set in stone, but should give you your most accurate estimate.

In a perfect world, all guests would be considerate and let you know whether or not they were coming. Since that doesn’t happen, it only makes sense to be prepared. If this means you wind up with lots of left-overs you can’t or won’t personally use, please don’t let them go to waste. The guys at your neighborhood fire station would be thrilled to get them. Here at Tanner Manor, we also frequently point excess food and spirits toward the monks at our nearby Cistercian monastery. They, too, are most appreciative.

And neither group has ever complained that they weren’t on our original guest list.