Archive for October 19th, 2009

Outdoor Parties – What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Monday, October 19th, 2009


Some folks (my wife, for one) have a very limited temperature comfort range. When the thermometer dips below 70 degrees, she hauls out the electric blanket. And if it goes above 80, she melts.

She’s not alone. I would even posit that most party goers dance less when the room temperature goes above 76 degrees, and leave earlier when it dips below 72. We are comfort-loving creatures, and temperature is a big part of what adds to (or detracts from) our sense of comfort.

This is yet another reason why I love parties inside big temperature-controlled ballrooms. Simply put, those events limit weather’s influence on an event to just the drive to and from the venue. Once inside, Mother Nature becomes a non-factor.

But twice in the past week, I’ve been the music provider at outdoor events. Mid-October is usually a fairly reliable time in my town to stage al fresco soirees (or “outdoor parties,” if you prefer.) But this particular autumn has been rather brisk, damp, and windy. And at both recent gatherings “brisk, damp, and windy” became Strikes 1, 2, and 3.

One was a misty evening affair, at which the buffet tables were indoors – and so were all the guests. No amount of urging from the hosts could get the crowd to come outside for the musical presentation honoring the night’s special guest. The other event was a barbecue luncheon held at a ranch outside town. Guests who parked along the long dirt and gravel driveway and trekked up to the ranch house patio, found their Gucci boots speckled with mud. Soon, their fashionable and expensive western ensembles were wrapped inside an assortment of un-fashionable – but warm – jackets and coats. It wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t a party that everyone will remember for all the right reasons, either.

As a party veteran, I have to admit that – Yes! – an outdoor event held in perfect weather is a wonderful thing. But realistically, how many perfect evenings are there, in any given year? (A local meteorologist once told me that – in our area – the answer to that question is “30″. 30 perfect nights a year.) That leaves about 335 nights annually that are either a little – or a lot – too cold, too hot, or too humid. It either has rained, or threatens to do so soon. Dust, flies, mosquitoes, smog, or wind are factors.

In other words, we have about a 1 in 12 chance of “perfect” weather.

Since that is the reality, I recommend that those considering outdoor events follow these 2 courses of action:
1. Make the event casual, and encourage guests to dress appropriately for the weather.
2. Have a tent, house, or other nearby structure to which the party can move on short notice (in case of severe weather.) Never invite more guests than you will safely fit into your back-up venue.

But my best advice is to simply remove weather as a consideration at all. Give yourself one less thing to worry about. Go indoors.