HAVE you ever tried to host an event?
Pages of checklists, hundreds of calls, crying into a glass of wine the night before when the caterer’s pulled out and the venue’s burned down? Sound familiar?
I’ve taken on my share of charity fundraisers in my time, but let me tell you, they’ve all been a walk in the park compared with my latest project.
My boyfriend’s 30th birthday party.
Obviously, because this is the man I love, the stakes are higher, but I started making enquiries ‘nice and early’ to avoid that last-minute panic. Twenty-four weeks before, I began: Googling in my lunch hour, making guest lists in the bath and hiding ideas in the notes app of my iPhone.
Choosing the ‘kind’ of party it should be was a dilemma in itself. Should I invite just the ‘young’ crowd, for a ‘partaaay’ with an embarrassing number of cocktails? Or should I opt for a PG family-friendly ‘knees-up?’ I settled on a mixture of the two, running the risk of partygoers being traumatised by Great Aunite Gladys doing the can-can with her underskirt up around her shoulders after downing a couple of Sex on the Beach.
Then there was the theme. No matter what you choose, you’re guaranteed there’ll always be one kill-joy who mutters ‘I’m coming, but I’m NOT dressing up.’
Then you’re not invited. Simple! Next.
I sent a list of specifications to every venue in Sheffield, determined to find the perfect location. Of course, the majority glanced at my request, thought ‘that’s ages away,’ and stuck it in their ‘pending’ tray for four months. My smug six-month window shrunk down to three with worryingly little progress.
Same with the guest list. I figured I’d save myself a few quid by sending out e-vites, text-vites and a ‘group message’ on Facebook. No need to wait around for the postman, I thought proudly as I hit the various send buttons. I would have this guest list nailed down within the hour.
So I waited. And waited. I made a cup of tea and waited a little more. I stalked my inbox for the next three days, triggering unsettling flashbacks to my teenage years. I longed for the beep of a text alert; anything that would show people cared, that they weren’t rooting for me to fail.
The problem, of course, is that people glance at a message like that, think ‘that’s months away’ and forget all about it until a week beforehand, by which time you’ve already ordered the food and now you’ve got a serious sausage roll shortage on your hands.
Most frustatingly, I can’t share my anxieties with the person I usually share everything with: the birthday boy. He’s left wondering why his once smiley, laid-back girlfriend has begun jumping at the slightest noise, moping around her computer and taking her phone everywhere with her, even to the bathroom. I’m fairly certain he thinks I’m having an affair.
There are now just eight short weeks until the eyes of the world (well, 60 of our closest family and friends) will be upon us. Judging me. And there’s still so much to do! I can’t help but think grumpily of how much further along I could have been had people just bothered to message me back.
So I implore you, if you ever get a text about Grandma Pearl’s anniversary party or a Facebook invite to cousin Paul’s birthday, be a hero - nay, be a decent human being! - and reply.
Ten seconds out of your busy day will make the organiser so happy - and ensure you even get an invite the next time!
And if you’ve been lucky enough to have received one of MY invitations?
I’m still waiting. And if I haven’t heard from you by the end of the week, you don’t GET a sausage roll.