Thursday, January 11, 2007

Meet Men Part 3

The last of a 3-part series detailing the considerable social benefits of becoming the Hostess With the Mostess. More answers about entertaining to meet men follow:

I’ve been to so many parties where people just sit around with plates in their laps. How do I avoid hosting one of those?

My mother, a fantastic hostess with a gift for facilitating merriment, had a rule: Fewer chairs than guests. If you have six chairs in your living room, get rid of two of them. If you’ve invited 20 people, don’t fret about having 12 chairs. Your goal is for people to circulate. I can’t tell you how many hostesses have killed a good time by offering too many chairs. The result is a coffee klatch, not a party.

Serving food buffet-style will also encourage your guests to mingle. Let them use your kitchen counter and the top of your bookcase for tables. Trust me, they won’t complain about it.

If you notice a cluster of boredom brewing, break it up immediately. For example, if you overhear some married couple droning on about their children’s accomplishments, call the husband away and enlist him to lift something heavy. Or get his wife to lift something heavy. Just shut them up.

After all the preparation for this party, I’m going to be wiped out. How can I look and feel my best?

Keep things simple, and you'll look rested and gorgeous. Think quick food, clutter-free house, festive drinks, and music (or football). That’s it. If your house isn’t beautiful, trust me, nobody worthwhile is going to give a damn. They’re just looking for a day out of the house, and you’ve given it to them. So take the pressure off. Now.

A week before the party, start reading food labels. If a package lists MSG, drop it. MSG makes you look old and puffy. Rev up your water intake. If you can't take it straight, squeeze a little lemon into it. Nobody likes going to the bathroom 90 times a day, but when you wake up on party day looking younger than springtime, you'll be glad you did.

That morning, apply cool green tea bags to your face and eyes for 20 minutes. Please lie down first. Green tea’s anti-inflammatory properties eliminate puffiness and clarify pores. Try it after you wash your face and before you slide on the moisturizer .

I dread the morning-after cleanup. I’m not sure this is all worth it.

It is worth it. Ask my husband’s friend (the guy who’s now happily married to the woman he met at his own party), and he’ll tell you. Look, I hate cleaning up, too, so wait until morning. Ask a good friend to help you. Let happy memories of the night before get you through it, as well as the knowledge that you’ve established yourself as a fun, welcoming person other people would do well to get to know.

The bonus? At least one of your guests is bound to reciprocate, opening the way for you to meet even more people—and even more men.

You met a great guy. Should you call him?.

Meet Men Part 2

Part Two of a 3-part series detailing the considerable social benefits of becoming the Hostess With the Mostess. More answers about entertaining to meet men follow:

I’d really prefer not to throw a party around the holidays. I have enough to do already.

Throw a party during a dead spot on the calendar, like February. After the holiday crush, many people like to hibernate. By February, they're ready to have fun again. Unfortunately, February is difficult for people who don't like Valentine's Day, or who have no one to celebrate it with.

Come to the rescue by throwing a Winter Blues party. Invite lively singles and couples and be sure to tell 'em to bring a friend. Serve blue drinks. Stock your CD player with upbeat music and sprinkle in a couple of blues selections from Billie Holiday or B.B. King. Buy frozen mini quiches and dim sum in bulk at Costco. Heat and serve.

I’m such a slob. I’m embarrassed to invite people over.

I’m a reformed slob, so I can relate. Scour the Internet for a quick guide to de-cluttering and get cracking. It's easier than you think, and it’s absolutely worth it. An orderly home will free you in too many ways to list here, but you’ll be able invite people into your house without freaking out about it.

Even better, you can establish yourself as a hostess (banish June Cleaver from your mind; think fun, warm, party person everybody wants to know). Trust me, if you show people a good time, they’ll talk about you ---favorably. They'll want to introduce you around.

Another thing: If you want to attract a great guy, you need to make room for him. Get rid of the clutter.

How do I invite people? By phone or by email?

Neither. Email and phone invitations work well for last-minute events, but you’re better off sending a homemade or hip store-bought invitation that conveys fun and excitement three weeks before yours. The typical guest will stick it on his fridge. He’ll look forward to your party every time he gets a glass of milk.

Homemade invitations are cheap and especially effective. I had great success with one I’d put together from photos of my friends from various times, places, and events and photocopied them, along with party details. I also drew on a crude head-and-shoulders silhouette with the caption, “Picture your smiling face here.” The result? An apartment packed to the rafters.

When designing your invitation, play around with typefaces to get your message across. Certain fonts indicate a more formal event, while others tell your guests to feel free to wear a pair of jeans.

This all sounds very exciting, but I can’t afford to throw a party right now.

Organize a chic potluck. Miss Manners would disagree, but there’s absolutely wrong with it. Pick a theme and get going. If you're squeamish about asking people to bring food to a party, I assure you that most people really like to help out. They like to show off their cooking. They enjoy getting compliments. They also just want to get out of the house and have a good time. Make it your job to help them.

Get the step-by-step program to attract the man of your dreams.

Meet Men Without Leaving Home

If you're looking to meet new men, you can do it without ever leaving your home. How? By throwing a party. You don't have to be Martha Stewart to do an event people will talk about for months; hey, you don't even have to be Rachael Ray. You just have to be you.

In this 3-part series, I'll answer a few of your questions about why you should entertain. I’ll also show you how easy it can be.

How the heck can I meet guys by throwing a party? Am I supposed to hand out invitations on a street corner?

Please don't. Instead, invite people you know and like and ask them to bring along somebody they know and like (the bring-along doesn't need to be single or male, but he or she may introduce you later to somebody else who is).

My husband's good friend, B., met both a long-term girlfriend and, later, his wife at his own parties. And then there's L., a habitual hostess, who once opened her door in Queens and found actor Matt Dillon standing on her doorstep. He showed up at one of her soirees after being invited by another guest. While I can't guarantee that Matt Dillon will make an appearance at your party, I can't guarantee he won't, either.

I can't cook.

Well, you do eat, don't you? If you like to take out, check out the restaurant's catering menu. Whether you want Chinese, Indian, Italian, or a Bloomin' Onion from The Outback, you can get it for your party. Pick up the phone, order, and set out some colorful paper plates and flatware. You're good to go.

I'm freakishly shy.

Hey, I've been there. Sometimes I'm still there. If you're terrified being forced to carry a conversation, arrange the party around an event like a football game. Turn on the TV. The background noise will fill in gaps in the conversation, and you can always talk about the game.

Here's a bonus: Football games call for casual food and drink. Pop a few trays of frozen potato skins in the oven, cut up a 6-foot sub, and pour some beers into a cooler full of ice. You’re set.

I hate football. In fact, I detest sports.

Then put together a holiday event. It's easy. Think Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick's Day, and The Fourth of July. Hit the party store and buy a few appropriate decorations.

Music is key. At Christmas, alternate traditional favorites with tunes from your guests' high school and college years. Nothing gets a party off the ground faster. If most of your crowd graduated around 1993, spin Nirvana, 10,000 Maniacs, and Pearl Jam. For the 1985 generation, try Simple Minds, early U2, and Jefferson Starship (particularly their ultra-cheesy, "We Built this City"). You get the idea.

For other holidays, return Bing Crosby to his CD case and change decorations accordingly. But, by all means, keep the music turned up.

Before you pick up the phone to talk to a guy, read this.