Archive for June 9th, 2008

FLOW – A Good Thing In Houses (And Parties, Too)

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Every realtor I’ve ever known uses some variation of the word “flow” 200 times a day. As in, “Notice how this house just flows flowingly from one room to the next in the most flowingest manner.” Personally, I can’t get used to the idea that interior walls and privacy are out, and that what we all really need to live in is a warehouse (a place with “Total Flow” in realty-speak.)

When it comes to parties, however, I can be as gushy and ebullient a “flow” proponent as any realtor ever dreamed of being. In fact, I think I’ll gush ebulliently right now.

To me, the best parties do flow – which is to say that they are not filled with jarring transitions that interrupt the progress of the evening in the way those 6,000 commercials from Billy Mays interfere with your favorite movie when it is shown on TV.

For instance, I encourage all my clients who choose to have dancing as a part of their event to allow their dancers lengthy blocks of time free of “words from our sponsor.” Clearing the dance floor after every song or two for a toast, fraternity song, or a “group photo of the Schmidlap side of the family” inevitably results in a growing number of dancers simply giving up. As many a bride or hostess has learned (usually, the hard way), it is infinitely preferable – if you do hope your guests will dance – to give them an unbroken 30 minutes in which to utilize their terpsicorean talents. At that point, they will welcome a break. While they catch their breath, you have a perfect opportunity make announcements or toasts, cut cakes, and toss bouquets in a way that actually helps the flow of the party.

Speaking of announcements, toasts, and such – unless your event is one in which speeches are required (like retirement and rehearsal dinners, or golden anniversaries), get them out of the way early in the evening, or your flow will be cut to a trickle. Guests will usually give your their (relatively) undivided attention at the very first of the night. Once they begin visiting and/or dancing (what we in the party business call “having fun”), each subsequent call for everyone to cease and desist their merriment simply makes it more difficult to “jump-start” the party once again. And – as I have urged repeatedly in these entries – speeches at most parties are best when they are short and rare.

With a little advance planning and some creativity, you can take care of whatever business is necessary at your event without destoying both the “flow” of the night and your guests’ enjoyment of the party. Just remember: the parties you recall most fondly were probably those that were the flowingliest.