Hollywood is no stranger to elaborate parties, from Beyonce's masquerade ball where guests were brought to the door by horse & carriage, to Justin Bieber's circus-themed shin-dig complete with Bozo the clown. But there is only one thing that can truly make your party stand out, and that is making each and every guest feel welcomed. Hollywood celebrities of yesteryear knew how to do this well -- but Carole Lombard stood out. What she did, you should be doing too.
How Classic Hollywood did Themed Parties Better...
The woman was fearless, I am telling you. She one time hosted a hospital themed party. Each guest was greeted with a hospital robe, and taken to what essentially was a gurney, where they were served cocktails from a medicinal looking glass tube. The decorations were rented from a surgical supply company, and dinner was rolled in on an operating table!
Another time she announced a party for a dear friend, inviting everyone to arrive in formal wear. When they got there they were greeted by Carole in a straw hat, plaid shirt, and bales of hay everywhere, with chickens and goats running amok. At first the guests were confused, but they soon were getting quite a laugh out of the little joke and had a marvelous time.
Nowadays when we hear about Hollywood house parties we think immediately of more infamous (and drug-fueled) parties of some of today's A-Listers. But it wasn't so in Carole's day... the fact that she got away with so much, and because the pinnacle party thrower of her day, is a testament not to the level of inebriation, but to how much this gorgeous screwball was loved by her friends and family.
In her time, Carole was the ultimate party hostess... you just never knew what to expect.
The One Thing that Matters Most When Hosting a Party
Nobody really knows why some parties die, and some parties thrive. I was once invited to a rather large party for someone VERY famous, who once lived in a certain large house that happened to be white. Anyway. The performers were also very famous. Even the cake was from one of those Food Network cake competition shows. The bells & whistles on this event were incredible!
But by midnight, underneath the crooning of Top Billboard charting performer that year, was a much more dismal sound...
The room had almost completely emptied out.
I credit this unfortunate turnabout not to what was happening so much as to what wasn't happening. The star of the show, the honored guest, the person everyone was there to celebrate, had vanished after a momentary appearance. On to bigger and better parties? Nobody seemed to know.
But I learned something. The best thing one can do to make a party fly is to make sure each and every guest feels like they belong. And it isn't that hard to do.
First of all, there's the obvious stuff -- show up -- and don't leave early.
But go a little deeper. Take Dale Carnegie, author of the most famous guide on how to basically make everyone fall in-love with you, who once said: “The sweetest sound to a person's ear is their own name.” Since you are probably only inviting your friends & family to your home gatherings, this shouldn't be too difficult.
But Carole took it one step further. She took the time to know what every single guest's favorite cocktail or drink was... in advance. So soon after arrival, her guest would have their favored spirit in hand.
Think about the kind of memory this woman must have had.
And perhaps that is the hallmark of a good party... as with all things in life, it doesn't really matter what you are doing, but who you are doing it with, and what you remember about them.
The hubby and myself have been hosting a lot of dinner parties lately -- and I have been asking about food allergies, or things the guests hate to eat. And you know what? Carole has inspired me to actually remember them, not for that night, or tomorrow, but for years and BBQs to come.
And that, I think, is the one thing that will keep people coming to your parties over and over again.
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