Sex & Sociability

Question and commentary on connections, both sexual and social

Why I Entertain and Why You Might Too

Inviting people over to share food is a lost art.

My sweetie and I were sitting around in the debris of my annual New Year’s Day party, exhausted, happily mulling over the event. The perishable food, what little was left, was put away in the fridge. Clean-up could wait. More important was comparing his experience of the party - what he observed, who he spoke with - with my own. For me, the after party “dishing” is one of the pleasures of giving a party in the first place.

“Well, that was great,” he began. “Of the four New Year’s parties I’ve experienced with you this was the best one, I think.”

“You said that last year too,” I smiled. Fortunately, I usually feel that way too, that each party was even better than its predecessors. In more than 30 years of giving them I can’t think of one that was a disappointment. Like friendships, each is unique and delightful in its own way.

Sweetie went on to expound on the for him newly found pleasures of entertaining (http://www.thealamedan.org/blog/amblin-alameda-once-year-friends). I certainly can’t argue that seeing dear and familiar faces one doesn’t for whatever reason see as often as one would like is an excellent reason to assemble them periodically. However, that is only one of several motivating factors for party giving.

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For one, I very much enjoy making what I call “people soup”. I like to see what combinations and connections can be made among and between my friends and acquaintances. Who might make a new friend or business deal? Who might actually find a new love? I must admit that the latter possibility is not as likely these days as my circle grows older, but hope does spring eternal and what great gossip it makes afterward when I hear that so-and-so is seeing what’s-her name whom he met at my party.

So the gossip possibilities of who met whom and the after party sharing on who was seen talking with whom and about what is certainly great fun for me, even if it goes no further than my Sweetie and me. Again, though, that is not the main reason I do it either.

Another good reason to entertain, at least so I originally thought, was the hope if not the expectation that others would then entertain me in return. What a great way to fill up your social calendar and increase your circle of friends, connections and/or potential lovers. In all the years I have been throwing large parties, though, this has rarely proven to be the case, alas. People have all sorts of “reasons” (I say excuses) for not entertaining – never having done it before, dreading the work involved, fearing the expense, worry about their accommodations. None of those need stop anyone but unfortunately it does for so many.

Entertaining can be expensive and tiring. It can be but it certainly doesn’t have to be. A few spur-of the moment phone calls to BYOB and putting a large pot of pasta on the boil will do quite nicely. A party, after all, is about the people rather than the food.

The reason I have graduated to usually more elaborate events than spaghetti and bring your own drink (and here I share a very personal motivation) is that I find the planning of a party – choosing a suitable date, adding new acquaintances to a selection of old ones for the guest list, going over menu possibilities – is a wonderfully healthy distraction for me. I would much much rather ponder serving lentils vs. black eyed peas than worry about my health problems or the goings on in Congress. At least I have control over the guest list and menu selections!

So, why do I entertain and why should you? Mainly because it’s fun. It’s worth the time and effort. It’s therapeutic. It widens your circle of friends. It will boost your self-esteem and people will appreciate you mightily. One feeds into the other and it all makes for a memorable evening, afternoon, or Sunday morning since brunch is entertaining too. Bon appetit!

Isadora AlmanM.F.T., is a Board-certified sex, marriage, and family therapist, lecturer, author, and syndicated advice columnist of "Ask Isadora."

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