Saturday, November 29, 2014

Party Guest Etiquette: When to Arrive

When should you show up for a party? I recently read an article claiming it is always bad to be late, and while I agree about business interactions, I think parties are a bit more nuanced. 

Michael Scott shows up when the hostess is still in her robe for a work party in season 3 of the Office
As shown so well by Michael Scott, showing up early to a party can be just as awkward or more than showing up late.  Emily Post says never to arrive early, but be close to on time. I am not one to disagree with Emily Post, but I feel it is nuanced based on party.

So, here's a handy guide for when you are unsure. 

When to Show Up for Parties:

A Sit Down Dinner Party:  Or any other sit down meal. Show up at, or within a few minutes of the start time. A few minutes early may be ok, depending on relationship with hosts. Someone is serving a meal, timing is involved. If you are late you hold everything up and food can get cold. That's rude to everyone. 

A Dinner Reservation: Or a brunch, or any other meal. Show up 5-10 minutes early. (If you are the host aim for 15 minutes early). You want the whole group to be there for the start time and to have found each other. At some places you can lose the reservation if not everyone is there within a few minutes of the start time. And at many, nobody can sit until everyone is there. So by running late you make everyone stand around. Not nice. 

Train Station Pick-Ups: This is probably a city phenomenon. If you are attending a party where you take the train out somewhere and then get picked up at the train station, try very very hard to be on the recommended train. I just missed a train recently The next one was an hour and a half later. In a party situation this means the host needs to leave to come get you, the straggler, an hour and a half into the party. Or if it's a long drive from party locale to train station, everyone attending has to sit around at the train station waiting for you. 

Everything Else: For all other types of parties, including meals that aren't sit-down meals, don't show up early. It is actively inconsiderate, because it doesn't consider the host(s) who planned to have that as getting ready time and are now trying to entertain while doing finishing touches, which can often involve attire touches or taking out trash. Unless you are the kind of friend who has been there when they are getting dressed before and vice versa, don't show up before the start time. I default to not showing up early unless expressly asked to. 

And for non meal parties, don't show up within 10 minutes after the start time if you can help it. Give people that buffer to finish getting ready.

You want to show up after the cream puffs are out, but before they are gone.
(Golden Age of Hollywood Party)
...I once showed up for a party with some friends and upon realizing we were slightly early, insisted on circling the block until after the start time to give the hosts a chance to finish setting up, I think to the annoyance of the people I was with.

Of course, there is a certain amount of late that is still rude, but that's a much more complex algorithm. You need to take into account length of gathering, closeness of friendship, social conventions of your group, etc. but as long as you have over an hour until the party officially ends you should be fine. And if it's more than 45 minutes after the start time, it's nice to let the host(s) know you will be late.

As with most etiquette issues,  timeliness is a question of making other people as comfortable as possible. 

Disagree? Think I'm being a jerk? Let me know! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How to Make a great Facebook Invite, Updated

According to my stats, the main way people end up here (besides me asking them too, of course) is by looking for advice on creating a Facebook invite.
Event photo for pi day party. I used the digits of pi and PhotoShop.

I still stand by my almost everything in my original post on how to make a Facebook invite standout.

However, the internet is an ever-moving target, and there are two big changes I'd like to make to what I said before.

Facebook Invite Advice: Addenda

1. Don't just do Facebook.
This may seem like odd advice about a Facebook invite, or out of place. But as people leave or ignore Facebook because of privacy concerns, or just being overwhelmed by content, it's something to keep in mind. I have an email list I keep of people I know don't use Facebook or don't check it enough to see an invite. I learned this lesson the hard way, by realizing a good friend had missed several invitations....whoops. Learn from me, people. If some people never respond, try an email.

The nice thing is you can basically copy and paste your Facebook invite including date and time into an email, and just format it up a bit.

And one did for a Goth costume/dressup gathering. It's busy but shrinks down well.

2. Make an awesome scalable banner for your invite
When I first wrote about Facebook invites, back in the day, when we used to kick it old school, events only had square images. But now the invites have banners, and we have to up our game. Frustratingly, unlike with profiles, you don't get a separate square icon for the event and a banner, so you have to make a banner that looks good at full size and looks good shrunk down in a sidebar.

But because Facebook is so busy, you also want it to be eye catching and fun. While simple. Also, for reference, the banners/event photos are 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall.

My solution has been to use simple banners that have either big text or no text. Above is the image I used last year for Pi(e) Day on 3/14, and here it is in the small event page preview:
Censored to protect the innocent.

Mostly, have fun with it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Kosher for Passover / Gluten Free Marshmallow Pops

It's Passover again, the hardest time of year for blog checking. I mean, an important time for gathering with family, rejoicing in our freedom, and keeping in mind those who suffer.

But also, 8 days without bread...cake...cookies...

Kosher for Passover desserts can get a bad rap. Yes, many are gross, but as I've posted before, they don't have to be. The great thing about Kosher for Passover desserts is they are often great gluten free treats, and can multitask like that.

Yours could be much prettier and more professional looking, I bet!

One of my favorites for seeming festive is a chocolate covered marshmallow pop. They are harder than they should be, but tasty and colorful and fun.

Passover Marshmallow Pops
aka Gluten Free Marshmallow Pops
(all ingredients should be marked as Kosher for Passover for this to be kosher, and gluten free for gluten free, so assume that each one is noted as such)
16 marshmallows
1 cup semi sweet chocolate
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil
rainbow sprinkles
popsicle sticks

You may want to start by brushing excess powder off the outside of your marshmallows.
Melt your chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave and add a small amount of vegetable oil for gloss and ease of dipping.
Stick marshmallows on popsicle sticks, then wrap sticks in foil
Dip each marshmallow into the chocolate and then spin to cover. you may want to use a clean finger or spare marshmallow to spread chocolate more evenly.
Push sticks of covered marshmallows into a foam block. If you are keeping passover you probably have an empty egg carton or two around--they work great. Make sure to leave space between.
After they are partially set, sprinkle generously with rainbow sprinkles.

Keep these in the fridge until dessert, then remove foil from sticks and serve. They are good cold or at just below room temperature, and get messy when too warm.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Samoa Cake Party

It's Girl Scout cookie season! You won't see any Girl Scout cookie knockoff recipes here, as I am a huge fan of the organization and will give them tons of money in exchange for their delicious cookies.

I will, however, make delicious Girl Scout cookie themed food & drinks with my super amazing friend Jeremy.

Samoa cocktail and cake.
I'm a Thin Mints person, but that doesn't stop me from loving Samoas. In the debate of which Girl Scout cookie is best (always an important one) my main vote is the one in front of me.

For a good Samoa party for the over 21 crowd, in addition to cookies, I recommend cake, cocktails, and for those of us with spelling issues, Samosas, and those of us bad at pronunciation, Qunioa (Kee-know-uh?)--or at least thats what we had.

For the cocktail:
Samoa Cocktail Recipe  (adapted from Tipsy Bartender
2 oz. Chocolate Liquor 
2 oz. Coconut Rum
1 oz. Amaretto
Drop of Chocolate Syrup
Optional Milk

Melted Chocolate and Toasted Coconut for garnish

Dip rims of glasses into melted chocolate and then lightly toasted coconut. Let set.

Put a drop of chocolate in the bottom of each glass, then shake and pour remaining ingredients. 

For the cake, I recommend this amazing and delicious recipe from Betsylife.

Enjoy! (We did)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Make Decorative Signs for Parties

Keep calm, it's easy to make party signs

I got a comment asking about signs for parties, and have been working on addressing it.

There are two main ways I do this--using graphics programs (PhotoShop or InDesign really) and by hand. The by hand stuff I mostly leave to talented people like Phil or Stella but sometimes make something much less awesome than they make. 

Step 1: Get Inspired

For either one, I start with some internet searches for inspiration. Pinterest is great for this, as is Google image search. Sometimes we already have a specific, or very specific, idea in mind, and sometimes we just kind of make things up.

I recently hosted a Dirty Dancing viewing. For sign inspiration there, I searched for Dirty Dancing parties (did you know you can have Dirty Dancing themed bachelorette parties? And Kate Middleton had one? These are Important Life Facts!) and found two great inspiration images:
Inspiration from the defunct Mary Moneymaker on Etsy and

Step 2: Make It Better

However, while these were great, they weren't quite great enough. For the first sign, while I liked the concept,I wanted something a bit truer to the original Keep Calm and Carry on sign. The second one's big issue is that it was a t-shirt. Perhaps a more dedicated host would have made or purchased "Welcome to Kellerman's" shirts for all the guests. But then how could they adorably dress up in 80's interpretation of 60's style? Really, I was just being considerate. I decided two signs were plenty since it was a viewing party and we'd be watching the tv (or ahem, a laptop when my DVD playing device freaked out.) For more signs, you can repeat a couple over in different locations or adjust them to the location (for example, a giant glittery cocktail above the bar).

Kellerman's sign in the movie as they drive by

Step 3: Draft

Depending on what works for you, in PhotoShop, InDesign, MS Paint, or on a piece of paper if that's your thing, map out what you want to do. At this stage I realized that in order to get an accurate interpretation of the Welcome to Kellerman's sign, I should use a screen capture from the movie. Unfortunately, it is not shown that large in the movie. This is a good time to figure out if your plans are outside your skill set, or just far too ambitious. 

Step 4: Make It and Use It

This really depends on what you are comfort level is with different techniques. As mentioned, I am more comfortable making graphics on a computer. If yours is hand crafting and painting elaborate designs, go for it. If it is just downloading images off the internet and printing them, do that--just make sure you aren't using ones for sale or making a profit off the party if the designer doesn't allow that. In this case, feel free to use either of my final images for any parties you want. Clicking on the download link should take you to a paper size downloadable PDF. I would love to hear about your use if you do.

And the final images. For the first, I reinterpreted the original Keep Calm sign with a silhouette of the iconic leap, and made the last part more Dirty Dancing than calm propaganda:

Keep Calm and Carry a Watermelon (download here)

For the second, I spent a ridiculous amount of time in PhotoShop copying the screenshot with tracing, angle adjustments, and some creativity:

Kellerman's Mountain House--Max Kellerman Welcomes You (download here)

Hopefully they worked okay. And remember, nobody puts baby in the corner.