May 2008

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Am I just shockingly unlucky or is everyone's significant (female) other deeply engaged in some sort of gift-giving arms race? I don't know how many times I have been called up, invited to a party (usually the poor schmuck is the male of the pair doing the inviting), yelled at the beloved checking that the day in question is ok, been told it's ok, been asked to ask "What do we need to bring?", asked the question, been told "Nothing, just yourselves", told the beloved the answer - word for word, and then been forced to partake in the agony of deciding what to take.

For you female types out there "nothing" means "we don't want your crap". I personally don't get overjoyed to see that guests have brought yet another dust collector into my house. If I ever wanted a vase, I would buy one. If I wanted some dead plant that would soon be dropping petals all over the place while sitting in a jar of water that is slowly turning green, I would raid my neighbour's yard. It is just vaguely possible that I would accept graciously something that I will eat or drink that night, but you run the risk of bringing a really nice bottle of wine while I serve you out of a cask.

The same sort of nonsense happens every xmas. Despite promises of multilateral ceasefires, every year someone buys something for someone and it is on. Of course you can't get something that is cheaper or otherwise less good than you received last year, and woe betide you if you missed out and are a present behind. Within a few years you are buying diamond encrusted Mercedes convertibles for your nearest and dearest while secretly plotting to kill each other.

Oh well, if weren't for the overactive shopping glands in our women, western civilisation would probably go in economic decline. But at least we wouldn't have those stupid curtains.




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I totally agree. The world is full of stupid party rules. But it is my experience that the most annoying party planners are gay males. I know a few and it's like they think they have to follow all kinds of unwritten rules that they think they have heard of. Like the worst from both worlds: Male and female....
(Please don't flame me. I like my gay friends - I just try to stay away when they are planning a party.)

Ulf Radicke

If this "woman in your life" really matched those Allan-and-Barbara-Pease-clichés you are describing here, she would never talk to you again after reading your blog post.
So something must be wrong, and I wonder what it is...


Don't worry about eyebrow-pluckers commenting disappointment with today's post -- don't worry! It was quality, hilarious insight born from meticulous observation; with a good hint of rudeness.

And to GeraldNZ at 01:23 PM:

"Planning the invasion of Normandy is harder ... I'm almost tempted to give up on the whole damned scheme." (and everything in between) Very cool

jerry w.

You ask:

Which of these two things is easier?

A. Planning the invasion of Normandy
B. Planning a holiday party

Easy, it has to be B.

If for nothing else, because you don't have to deal with the French.


Scott, this comment is utterly unrelated to your post, but could you please put up some kind of search engine on this blog? I like re-reading some of your older posts and if I've forgotten to bookmark them, it becomes a bit of a task to find the exact one I'm looking for.

Yes, I do have lots of time. No, no that much.


this is why I support bacteria, the only culture some people have.

Darry Hardy

Planning a party is much easier! Just delegate. Couldn't do that at Normandy!

Darry Hardy

Jason Allen

This sounds like a great opportunity to use your guy-ness so your wife will "forbid" you from helping her in the party planning. Offer to plan what ever party is coming up and declare it'll just needs some chips, dip, and music. Make sure you seem overly confident that's all the party needs and act surprised when she tells you she'll do it herself.


And they managed to organise and execute the Normandy invasion with less paperwork and layers of management than it takes me to get a software system installed.


What makes you think it ends when the doorbell rings?


True Story:

My (now) Ex and I were hosting a Christmas party. I was in B-school and we had no income at the time. Money was an issue and we set up a moderate budget (about midway between $100 and $1k) for the party.

To my Ex's credit she was an AMAZING entertainer. Though I tried to keep up (to watch that budget!) she usually went ahead and worked her magic faster than I could keep up.

Don't know what the final tally came to. But I do know, before we got food, drinks, or Christmas decorations the budget was blown on the very first 'to purchase' line item: candles.

Again to her credit -- it was an INCREDIBLE party. And very well lit.


Oh Scott, welcome to married life. This is exactly the situation in which we Aussie males employ the phrase "you poor bastard". Don't worry - that's why God invented divorce.


Will there be a subsequent post on the challenges of invading Normandy? I'm still trying to answer the original question.


Wow, that is a weird party - gifts? At an Aussie party it is ok to rock up with a six pack of beer, or maybe wine if a dinner party (that is a recent cultural advancement that hasn't totally permeated our culture). BYO meat and booze is entirely acceptable.
The only complication is ensuring enough ice and/or fridge space to keep all the beer cold. This is essential and believe me, there is an art to esky packing!
I think a leaving gift used to be "one for the road", but now we have drink driving laws.
I reccomend moving to Australia to solve this one Scott!


I am not like that at all. I plan everything well in advance, and then I tell people what to bring, if there's anything we still need-- like beverages or deserts. I start cleaning and planning my outfit a week or so in advance, and do my hair early in the morning.

Sometimes, I prepare the food while my guest are there, and they can pitch in if they wash their hands. I always make just enough food, and people always have a blast at my parties. A bit of music in the background and lots of seating and everybody's happy.


I have a close strategy:

Prepare nice looking tupperware boxes. As usual, ensure that a good portion of the food is homebaked, homecooked, hometasted, home-can-opened, etc.. so that the guests feel special in front of the amount of food that they are presented to.

The expensive bit is the alcohol. Ensure that you tell your guests "oh, I love a nice wine now and then" and you are sure to get at least 98.6% of your guests bringing some cheap dirty wine that you can use for the party. The guests have to agree the wine is good or lose face (it could be their present..).

In the end, you pack the remaining home-baked/home-microwave-reheated food in the nice looking tupperare boxes, and you get your little present ("Da bao" box as we call it here) to your guests.

Siunce the wine is terrible, not all has been drunk, and you probably are left with half a dozen to a dozen bottles of wine, for presents at parties where you are invited..

All in all, a great party.

Maybe should I invite you to one of my parties one day, if you come to Asia ;)

(above blog not in english)

D. Mented

My, you do have formal parties, don't you!
I haven't been to one of those ones where you bring a gift for the hostess and she gives you one in decades...not since I was four and the exchange was a flower and party favors.
Just put it in the invitation that this is an informal gathering - no gifts will be exchanged; "just bring your own charming self"...and blah blah blah.
If your wife wants to redecorate, tell her it's fine as long as it comes out of the household maintenance budget or she puts up the difference. (and be prepared to hear the same thing about new technology or ride-em mowers, etc.)
Then greet the guests at the door, make the rounds once, claim a headache, and sneak off to play videogames in a closed room.
The lack of training in formal manners is a sad statement about this society - all this stuff used to be taught father-to-son before a man ever had to deal with a formal party.
(ballet used to be popular with both sexes because it was an opportunity for a man to oggle attractive young women in skirts that were starched to stay above their waistlines while looking perfectly respectable. It has fallen out of favor because the ballerinas now look like tottering skeletons, Cirque Du Soleil doesn't even have skirts and they do cool stuff, and looking respectable isn't remotely interesting to anyone after the vice president publicly told someone to "go fuck yourself" in the capitol building)
D. Mented




Here’s a joke that you can play 30 minutes before the guests arrive.

Glance around the room, and with a distressed look on your face say “Oh boy, we probably should have cleaned the house.”

I guarantee she’ll think it’s the funniest thing she’s ever heard. (Or she’ll freak out and kill you with a vacuum. Either way...funny stuff.)


I agree with you that one of the biggest problems with throwing a party is that guests don't get in lines quickly enough. I usually set up one of those line-defining rope mazes inside my front door so that folks are immediately put into a line. Sure, there's a little bitching about "my feet hurt" and "I've been standing here for hours, what am I in line for anyways", but at least they are all lined up. Besides, it keeps them out of my bathroom which means it keeps them from stealing back the prescription medications I took from them at their last party.


I may be the only one, but I think you've got the male and female party planning worries down perfect. But now you have me thinking that I need to rethink my ways. I spend a lot of time thinking of the perfect party favors to send home with my guests and love the idea of having them rummage through whatever they brought. However, I think I've been inviting the wrong people to my parties...they never bring hostess gifts!

Maybe from now on I'll just invite you and your family. My husband would certainly be happy!


It seems like a sexist would use the words, woman and stilts, in the same sentence. Is Scott Adams sexist?


"A hard part of hosting is guessing..."
That's bizarre

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