It’s Holiday Party Time, y’all! And for the vast majority of the Northern Hemisphere, that means Entertaining Indoors.
Amy V is not necessarily down with the idea of games after dinner at parties, y’all. She starts the chapter with:
“I never fail to be somewhat alarmed at the extent of my correspondence from people who want to know how to entertain their guests after dinner or luncheon. “What games should we play?” they ask.”
So no Minute to Win It games for her, I guess.
She has a list of games that are occasionally acceptable (bridge, canasta, mah-jongg, backgammon, or even poker. A world before Cards Against Humanity, how awful) but she makes a huge point of making sure guests know this is the plan prior to them accepting the invitation, so they can opt out.
Stimulating conversation is the best after-meal entertainment. Constant card playing can kill that sort of thing. She has a point, but you can mix it up, yo.
Amy V does understand those new to hosting may be nervous about an evening of just conversation. But for goodness sake, don’t make any rookie mistakes such as
“…rush around filling glasses, dumping ash trays, pulling up chairs, fiddling with the radio dials, or, willy-nilly, turning on the television.”
Invite people with common interests, and at least one “eager conversationalist,” even if he tends to talk about himself.
“People are always at their best, anyway, talking about themselves and their experiences.”
I guess, but…
Apparently, “the bane” of every hostess’s life is someone who doesn’t say a thing.
“Such people feel shy, superior, or plain tired…”
NO AMY V, WE’RE JUST INTROVERTS, DAMN!
But, at least she recognizes, they (we) shouldn’t be forced into conversation.
“Often they enjoy themselves just listening, or they will suddenly come alert and make an interesting contribution later on.”
Uh yeah, because we hate small talk, but yes, we’ll get all up in it for deeper conversation.
A good host and hostess should try to develop a skill of bringing conversation out of their guests, but don’t try TOO hard. Amy V relates a story of a hostess she knew who carried a little black notebook around a party, filled with conversation starters, around with her.
“She succeeded only in making her ineptness as a hostess even more apparent.”
Break Through That Ice
Amy V concedes that even the very best hostess can occasionally have a group of people difficult to entertain, especially if it’s something like a birthday party, where there may be a wide range of ages. Then some ice breaker games may be permissible. She suggests “Ghosts” may be a good one. She also says “The Game” is popular among intellectuals. I can’t find any info on that one, though. You can imagine everything that comes up Googling that, no matter how many other keywords you use.
Or perhaps I’m not intellectual enough.
Music is ok for Amy V, as it can be a stimulus to conversation if played low in the background. Should you have friends particularly interested in music, it’s fine by her to just have that as an evening’s entertainment.
“Many a delightful evening with friends can be spent with hardly a word exchanged if all are listening to music.”
That would be a bit weird, at least with my group of friends, but to each his own.
We do however, get down with listening to Harry Potter soundtracks while playing the Hogwarts Battle deck building game. But we’re the type who likes games.
Amy V then goes back to state that people prefer to talk, however, and don’t want to try to do so over radio or television. So again, if you’re planning an evening of doing anything other than talking, give everyone prior warning, so as to
“…give any guests who prefer a different evening the opportunity to leave approximately one hour after dinner.”
Specificities as to when one is allowed to leave a party continues.
The Idiot Box
You can have friends over to watch television, but, as always, never assume your guests want to, and give them fair warning and an opportunity to turn down your offer. She points out they probably have a set at home of their own.
Well, maybe. At the time of this 1962 edition, 90% of households did. However, at the time of the first edition in 1952, only 32% of homes had them.
Now, if unexpected guests show up (which, just rude in my book, btw) during a show you love (prior to dvr’s and streaming services, obvs) you could offer to let them enjoy it with you. However, if not, you, as hostess, also give the option to go into another room with the guests, and let the rest of the fam continue watching.
Y’all. This part. Just, ugh
“It is certainly not fair, for example, to drag father away from a championship boxing match, if that’s what he’s glued to, to help entertain Mr. and Mrs. George, who just dropped in from the next block. What probably happens is that Mrs. George and the hostess retire from the din and the two men have their television.”
I get not missing a live sports event, trust. But god forbid the little ladies have any interest. If someone suggested I leave a college football game to entertain unexpected guests?… Fuck that noise. Sit your ass down and watch, too.
So uhhhh…remember how Amy V wasn’t all about games? Well, hold up, y’all! When it comes to bridge, that is an entirely different matter!
Obviously, it has to be agreeable to a majority of the guests. But of course you had already run the idea past everyone, so they damn well better be agreeable, amirite?
In keeping with strict timetables at supposedly fun parties
“…the tables are set up as needed half an hour or more after coffee has been served.”
You may want to have these tables set up in another room, because, believe it or not
“It is quite possible for two or more guests not wishing to play to have a pleasant evening by themselves in a roomful of bridge addicts.”
These poor unfortunate souls are permitted to read a book or the papers, play Chess, or take a walk.
Then, forget about those people. It’s bridge time, bitches.
Do not even come up in Amy V’s house expecting to have a seat at the table if you’re only a mediocre player. She throws so much shade on bad players, y’all.
“You may be beautiful and witty, intelligent and glamorous, but if you sit down to a table of bridge with only a faint interest in and a hazier understanding of the game itself you make yourself worse than foolish.”
“Don’t let yourself be persuaded to sit in at a serious game whose progress your own inept playing will only hamper.”
“If you are one of those that no amount of teaching can improve, let it go.”
“Always state frankly whether you are considered a good, middling, or poor player, and let the others decide whether to risk.”
“Certainly if you are to play any card game with a partner for stakes you are honor bound to explain your card status, even if you can afford to lose.”
Uh, have fun, everyone? Maybe no bridge at your holiday parties, ok?