Amanda Cade

Worth It! (Things to try, read, watch, hear, and discuss)

Back in November, I shared my tips for low-stress parties and gatherings. Lest anyone think that my life always goes smoothly (although if you read my post about wrapping Christmas presents, you already know better), I have to tell you that I only learned to relax about these things through some very strong lessons.

Here are a couple of those learning experiences.

Who turned out the lights?

blur-burn-burning-1123256

In my early twenties, I hosted a weekly dinner party. It was essentially the same group of people every week, and it was pretty low-key. Well, it was low-key to everyone but me, because this was before I finally learned to chill and understand that I don’t need to dazzle people every single time they step into my home. True confession time: I spent hours every week trying to outdo myself and continuously be impressive. I had a lot to learn, and my lessons started with…

…a power outage. Three hours before people were due to arrive, during the latest of a recent rash of thunderstorms, I was suddenly plunged into darkness. The area I was living in at the time was plagued with power outages, but they usually only lasted a few hours. Hoping that this was just a temporary setback, I lit a few candles and finished as much dinner prep as I possibly could. By then the storm had ended, but the power wasn’t back.

If you’re thinking this would have been a good time to cancel dinner, I don’t disagree…but whether you want to call it my can-do attitude or a ridiculous level of stubbornness (and whichever you choose, you’re right), I wasn’t yet ready to throw in the towel. After all, if it turned out that I couldn’t cook, we could make sandwiches and enjoy the ambiance. I just had to get out of the area of the power failure and stock up on bread, lunch meat, cheese, and pretzels.

Unfortunately, I soon discovered that there was no “getting out of the area” because this power failure was massive (in the end, it would be three days before everyone had power again). After half an hour of fruitless driving, I had finally resigned myself to calling off the evening (and wondering what the heck I was going to eat, since almost everything I had on hand required cooking), when I happened to stumble across a convenience store that had a big sign outside saying, “Come on in. We have a generator.”

I swear I’m not making that up.

I bought everything I needed for sandwich night, including a few bags of ice for my cooler, and some extra supplies in case the power stayed off for a while (and you’d better believe I was grateful for that as the hours turned into days). When I called my friends and told them the new plan, they were up for it, and we had a candlelit pseudo-picnic that turned out to be a lot of fun. Everyone’s ability to roll with that situation was the first hint that maybe I had been taking things a little too seriously. The next lesson came just a few months later…

What was that noise?

My annual Christmas party used to be the ultimate in my compulsive event planning. I invited tons of people, made custom invitations (related to each year’s theme), planned a quirky gift exchange, decorated like crazy, and had prizes for a variety of things (also related to the theme).

Oh, and I made a LOT of food. Way too much food. An epic variety of way too much food.

So about an hour before party time, my sister Amy and I were busily assembling the aforementioned way too much food, when suddenly we heard a terrible noise from the living room. We rushed in to discover that a two foot chunk of the ceiling had collapsed, and ice and water was pouring into the room.

waterfal

After a second of stunned gaping, we ran for buckets and pots and began a lunatic sort of two woman bucket brigade. When the torrent stopped a few minutes later, we put an empty bucket under the drip and stared, shell-shocked, at each other, just beginning to process what had happened. Amy recovered first, and went for towels and a mop. Before she returned, another (somewhat smaller) section fell in, and we had to repeat the process.

After that, she started cleaning, and I started crying. I hadn’t even thought yet about the possible ruination of my furniture…I was just horrified at what I saw as the ruination of my party.

Thank heaven for Amy, whose crisis management skills developed much earlier than mine. She cleaned up the water on the floor, and then called the landlord. It turned out that a massive amount of ice had accumulated on the roof of the building (it had been a pretty intense winter), and the weight was just too much. He promised it would be fixed as soon as possible (in case you’re wondering, it ended up being two days).

Amy told me, gently but firmly, to stop crying and help her rearrange the furniture before the couch was beyond saving. She then said, and I quote, “We’ll keep an eye on the buckets and crank up the heat, and no one will care because we’re feeding them.”

In other words, “Amanda, stop being ridiculous.”

As people began arriving, they were surprised, then concerned, and finally amused as Amy and I nonchalantly told the story of our “little snag”. The party was a success, and helped me have a little more perspective the next time disaster struck.

And believe me…there wasย definitely a next time.

don't panic

What are your favorite “disaster” stories? Let’s compare notes in the comments.

 

28 thoughts on “Worth Mentioning: Lessons Learned From Party Disasters

  1. Lara/Trace says:

    I admire you so much!

    Like

  2. kagould17 says:

    Great stories. Good on you for being resilient and resourceful. No party type disasters for me. But I do recall my retirement trip to NZ/Aus in 2014. I had planned the heck out of it for months and when the big day came, we got to the airport early, checked in and sat comfortably relaxed in the Air Canada lounge, enjoying the freebies. About an hour before departure, I noticed that leg one of my 3 leg flight was delayed and would mean |I would miss the next two flights, making all my planning worthless. On the phone and after 40 minutes of panic and $941, I was able to make the changes to allow us to continue. I dd manage to get my $941 back when I got home 7 1/2 weeks later. All the planning in the world will not be enough if you can’t adapt to sudden change. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda Cade says:

      That sounds really stressful. I’m glad it worked out for you. Traveling can be crazy, especially because so often one snag causes a chain reaction. The last time I was flying, my first flight was late and I had to run full speed across O’Hare and got to the next gate right before they closed the door.
      You’re so right about the need to adapt. Learning to do that was one of my greatest personal battles, but I’m so much happier now that I’ve (mostly) gotten a handle on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. kagould17 says:

        I watch so many others who blindly trust that everything will work out and never have an alternate plan. Once they hit a wall, they stop, rather than bouncing. My biggest motivation as a construction project manager for 39 years was the fear of failure. It did teach me how to adapt. Cheers. Allan

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Katherine says:

    He he, I use to panic too.
    Sometimes, when I feel the situation gets out of my control and I can’t do things the way I wanted and imagined I tend to panic.
    In the end I abort the “mission” and start another one with better results.
    Thanks for sharing! ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda Cade says:

      I really had to be forced to learn to adapt. Only after multiple recoveries from what I thought were unmitigated disasters did I finally start to get a sense of perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Katherine says:

        Yeah… I know what you say.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The Eclectic Contrarian says:

    In your early 20โ€™s… like a few years ago ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda Cade says:

      Thanks for that, although I suspect that my references to 80s and 90s pop culture on earlier posts is enough for you to know it’s flattery. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Eclectic Contrarian says:

        Youโ€™re welcome young lady! ๐Ÿ˜Š

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh snap, I’d be in a most sour mood if my ceiling had fallen in. What a bother…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda Cade says:

      It was unbelievable. I mean, talk about a problem you would never expect.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know, right? Thank god that “soon” actually meant soon for your landlord.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. masercot says:

    You sound as if you coped pretty well.

    Personally, from my party-giving days, I found it best to have a fallback, in case the main entree became inedible due to some unforeseen disaster. I wasn’t known among my friends for being particularly desperate to please people, so that took a LOT of the pressure off as well…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda Cade says:

      Yeah, it took me WAY too long to let go of my perfectionist tendencies. These days my plan B is to order pizza. Sometimes that’s also my plan A. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  7. frenchc1955 says:

    Amanda, thank you for a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda Cade says:

      My pleasure. ๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 1 person

  8. pjlazos says:

    Our heat went out on a Friday night when people were coming for dinner and my husband didn’t want to call because it would be double time so we cranked up the Kodiak stove and it kept the whole house at 64 degrees even though it was like 10 degrees outside. Lesson learned. It all works out in the end. :0)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda Cade says:

      Lack of heat is definitely a challenge!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My momโ€™s 50th in 2017. I planned it and everything was supposed to be perfect but the photographer she insisted on was a bad one. It really got to my nerves that the moments were not being captured beautifully. However, I whipped out my phone and used it instead to enjoy the party or I have a meltdown focusing on the bad photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
    I am hosting a tea party for some friends later today and have woken up with one of my massive headaches.
    I still have to do grocery shopping and food prep.
    Luckily my daughter is free and around to help.
    Wish me luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda Cade says:

      I hope your headache gets better and that everything goes smoothly. And if it doesn’t all go smoothly, I hope you enjoy it regardless. Good luck!

      Like

      1. Thank you so much ๐Ÿ˜

        Reading your posts helped.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Amanda Cade says:

        I’m so glad to hear that!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Interesting, am writing on a similar topic, will tag you when am done.
    In short though, last year my sisters wedding, I was the planner, the planning went well, contacted the suppliers, the budgeting smooth then the implementation…..Am a full time administrator, couldn’t get leave days before the wedding, only got 2 days. Transportation to venue to set up was late, the decor equipment supplier mislead us on some of the stuff we were hiring form her (she out sourced and did not look exactly new). The backdrop did come out nicely and we forgot to collect some of the fresh flowers fortunately I had a few artificial ones to replace.
    Naturally my sister got upset, my hair was not done on time only managed to grab a quick bath 10mins before starting time. It was a nightmare but fortunately the event itself was so exciting and the guests thought it looked beautiful and the bride warmed up

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda Cade says:

      That’s quite a story!

      Like

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