Coffees and Parties and Lunches, Oh My!


I was on a roll for a bit, with hosting two parties in two weeks (one was the ladies night of wine and chatting, and then we hosted a party for my husband’s law school classmates, a few of whom have some potential for the FFFE as well. The only problem there will be how to get them to hang out when they ever have any time!

In addition to the parties, I was grabbing Sunday coffees, doing mid-week biostats phone consultations, and generally living it up for a while – effortlessly doing the FFFE thing, living the goal (or trying to) of networking and meeting people on a regular basis and building relationships based on that.

But now what?

Busy, Busy, Busy

Where has my time gone?  Where have the invites gone?  Where has the will gone to keep checking MeetUp.com for a chance to spread my wings a bit?  And again, where has my time gone?  Work, school, an internship, some volunteer work, a house, a husband, and a dog are surely time consuming enough for two people, but before it was working out relatively well…right?

Is it too much to ask to have time for friends and everything else?

Taking Stock of the Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor

How feasible is it to have routine outings with friends when life is so hectic? I feel like this project has helped me adapt to a new city and find friends perhaps more quickly than I otherwise would have. At the same time, however, trying to plan and organize the endeavor of finding and making friends can add stress to an already overwhelming schedule.

So after all of my hemming and hawing, I want to know what you all think about undertaking a concentrated, organized effort to be active in the friendship world. Enter Quiz #1 for the FFFE.

Advertisements

The Days of Wine and Chocolate


So my resolution to have another party came true.  It was small, yes, but it was delicious.

In my post-Debbie-Downer phase, I decided to put together a tasting party for the two things I most enjoy: wine and chocolate.  Yum.

I have never done a tasting party of any sort, let alone one that people might expect to be well-planned and put-together, so I started feeling the pressure immediately after I invited a few friends.

What?  Did I really just commit myself to coming up with a menu of paired wines and chocolates?

To the drawing board!

Wine and Chocolate Pairings

After a lot of research at Lindt.com for learning how to “taste” chocolate and then reviewing a billion sites to get recommendations for pairing wine and chocolate, this was the tasting menu:

Sweet Champagne with White Chocolate that had Dried Strawberry by Matt BanksChunks

Sweet Moscato with a Swirled White and Milk Chocolate bar

Riesling with Milk Chocolate with Caramel Filling

Dry Sherry with Milk Chocolate with Toffee Chunks

Fruity Cabernet Sauvingon with Medium Cocoa Chocolate with Dried Cherries

Shiraz with Dark Chocolate spiced with Chiles

Merlot with 79% Cocoa Dark Chocolate

Deeee—-LISH!

My favorite pairs were the sweet champagne with white chocolate and strawberries, the Sherry (I was so surprised!) with the toffee chocolate, and the Cab with the chocolate with cherries – and normally I only eat dark chocolates!

Anyway, the night was a success, and I have already been asked to repeat the pleasure…I am thinking of hosting a 2nd evening of wine and chocolate over spring break. The words “wine and chocolate” seem to be all that is necessary to secure attendees, which is now a “note to self” for future Friendship Endeavor events.

by Simon Howden

Now if I can just convince the MeetUp.com group to go for wine and chocolate, I can keep perfecting my tasting skills!

 

How to Plan a Kick-Ass Party


Pardon my French, but I didn’t know how best to describe what I was hoping to do in this post without that key phrase.

I am finally accomplishing my long-lived FFFE plan to host a party next Friday.  Small scale, ladies only, casual and low-key, but a party nonetheless.  I’m thinking wine, unhealthy snacks, decorations leftover from Christmas, and lots of chit-chat.

Party with Wine

Cheers!

But how to put together said shindig?  I figured I would head to the world wide web to get some pointers, and this is what I found:

Get the Basics of Your Party Planning Figured Out

  • Decide how many people you plan to invite or how many guests you expect will attend.
  • Decide what type of food and drinks you will serve.  Cocktails and appetizers?  A sit-down dinner or buffet?  Desserts and punch?

Set the Stage for Your Party

  • Will there be a theme?  What type of decorations will you need?  Will your guests need advanced information on the theme to dress accordingly or bring specific food or drinks?
  • Plan activities if the party won’t just be for socializing.  Do your guests enjoy board games?  Interactive games like SceneIt or charades?  Plan these in advance so you have something prepared in case of a lull in the activity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help with Your Party

  • If you can’t cook or buy all the party fare yourself, consider enlisting the help of a friend or neighbor who will be attending, or ask each guest to bring a side dish and/or drink.  Alternately, plan your party as a potluck and have each guest bring a specific part of the menu.
Eat up!

Party Foods

  • Ask friends or family to help you prepare the house for the party.  Don’t kill yourself cleaning or prepping, but do make sure that the most visible areas are presentable: little to no clutter, clean floors and counters, dusted eating surfaces, tidy guest bathrooms, etc.  If you have a pet, vacuum to remove pet hair and use a lint brush to clean furniture so that party guests won’t get pet hair on their party clothes.

Prepare for the Party in Advance

  • Cook or bake everything ahead of time if possible, saving only the dishes requiring fresh assembly for last-minute prep.
  • Set out utensils, napkins, and clean glassware in advance to save yourself the stress of arranging these items when guests are arriving.
  • If you will be giving party favors, assemble them as far ahead of time as possible so that you can focus on more time-sensitive issues in the last few days leading up to your event.

Keep the Party Casual

  • Whether your house is packed to the gills or you have a limited guest list for an intimate party environment, don’t stress out your visitors by adhering strictly to formal party procedures (unless a fancy formal is the theme!).  Making guests fret over which spoon to use or whether it is appropriate to take their appetizer plate into the living room may kill the mood. Keep it simple and laid-back to help everyone get and stay comfortable at your shindig.
  • If you are hosting a party and you know that certain individuals may hamper everyone’s experience, consider whether they should be invited. If you are not close with the head honcho at work, or if you have feuding friends, choose carefully whom to invite or make sure the party is big enough that they can enjoy themselves without cramping the style of the rest of your guests.

Be the Gracious Host

  • Smile, and welcome each and every guest graciously – even if they are unexpected!  A party is a party after all, and living by the credo “the more the merrier” will help you go with the flow. Roll with the punches and remember that the purpose of the party is to have fun!
  • Keep an eye on how full the chip bowl is and tidy up if necessary, but don’t be so tied to scrubbing dishes between courses or filling every single glass that dips below half full that you miss out on the party.  People are coming to spend time with you, so don’t kill yourself by refusing to relax. People are forgiving at parties, so enjoy yourself and allow yourself to be present and socialize.  You can always clean up later!
  • Be prepared for the party to last longer than you expected.  When guests are enjoying themselves, or when alcohol is free, guests tend to linger!  Don’t stress over the time and just appreciate the fact that you threw such a good party that no one wants to leave!

 

Now that I have armed myself with the basic elements of planning and hosting a kick-ass party, I am hoping to succeed at doing just that this coming weekend.  Let’s hope these strategies help…Now, on to the party menu!

A Friendly End to a Friendly Semester


Finals are over and I once again have claim over at least some of my time! Spurred on by my numerous attempts to socialize, meet people, and make friends, I have recently participated in or arranged multiple gatherings with potential forever friends. Then again, I have also passed up a few outings to celebrate the quarter’s end. I did so regretfully, but I passed them up nonetheless.

Despite my brief bout with post-exam antisocial angst, I have already scheduled a tentative round of drinks on the town and an outing to dinner and the Nutcracker with a few new friends from school and church.

Today, however, I hatched a crazy idea.

My December task for the Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor will be to host a party. Not just any party – a party with all of the best potential friends doing all the best things: eating, drinking, and being merry.

Considering I do have the continued need to work for a living, a commitment to a school/work internship, the frantic holiday traveling to look forward to, and all of my Christmas shopping to do, it will be quite a feat to organize and host a party within the next couple of weeks, but I dare say my newfound devotion to fostering friendship opportunities will serve me well – motivation and a healthy dose of stress can be a wonderful thing.

I craftily even used my decision today to not attend recent outings as an opportunity to shoot a few ladies a text about tossing back a few glasses of wine at my place sometime in the next week or two.

So now the December To-Do List kicks in:

1. Pick a day for the fearsome fête
2. Buy some wine
3. Choose some snacks
4. Send a few casual invites
5. Clean, clean, clean
6. Party hearty
7. Report on the successful progress on the Friendship Meter!

 

Host a party for friends!

Mine won't be quite this fancy!

All in all, I think I’ve had a great start these past few months toward finding potential Forever Friends. Granted, it has been easy to meet people at school – it is the perfect opportunity to find other people who are also looking to make new friends, and I hope that I am taking well enough advantage of the chances my new degree program has given me.

So beginning the next phase of my journey toward lasting friendships, I will host a party and head to the ballet. After that I foresee some of the general December to February Friendship Plans: 

December – February: Getting into the Swing of Things & Finding Some “Regulars”

I think I have made fair progress on this already for this month, but putting myself to the challenge of being the person responsible for inviting specific people and hosting a party is a bit of a big step.  It means I have to select some potential “regulars!”  Well, here goes!

Lots of Friends for Mommies


But what about the rest of us?

With all of the networking sites for moms, it cannot be news that
there are myriad opportunities for some women to connect.  I
understand the strain motherhood can put on a social life and even a
woman’s personal mental health, but I think it’s time to expand the
opportunities for other women to network and connect in much the same
way!

Where is it written that only moms have no social lives?!  I am only
slightly self-conscious in declaring that I have a limited social life
right now as well.  Granted, that’s part of being in grad school and a
new city, but I still think it is important to acknowledge that ALL
women can improve their social circle by putting themselves out there
a bit, even seeking out entirely new people to bring into a network of
friends.
by Photostock

The problem is that – despite the many webpages devoted to connections
for mommies – there are limited options when it comes to general
social networking for women in general, especially those looking to
make local connections with real-life, going-out potential!

For those of you who are mothers, I have nothing against you and your
kick-ass networking abilities and options!  I think the plethora of
social opportunities you are creating for yourselves and other
overworked moms is wonderful (I’m just jealous!).  I wish the rest of
our sex could hop on the connection boat, though, and start a social
connection site for local communities of women to test the waters and
plan real-life get-togethers for the purpose of finding friends and
expanding social opportunities.

To promote friendly gatherings of mothers everywhere, here is a short
list I compiled of a few sites devoted to getting moms connected to
kindred spirits:

www.mommiesnetwork.org

http://moms.meetup.com

http://sahm.meetup.com

www.momtomomchat.com

www.cafemom.com/moms

http://www.babble.com/mom/health-and-relationships-momance-befriending-other-moms/

www.circleofmoms.com

Why can’t I have some of that?!  No joke – how about a
20s-30s-something-network?  Or a CafeFriendlyLadies?  Besides Craig’s
List, which sort of strikes me as a kind of sub-optimal (and slightly
creepy?) way of forging into the unknown world of random friend
opportunities, I would love to see an entire site specifically
designed for ladies to meet other women who are in search of
friendship.  Searching by theme and location at meetup.com is a great
start, but I know people are out there, waiting for friends to join
them, and a specific site devoted just to ladies forming friendships
could hit a wider market with a bigger impact.

So let’s see what happens.  I wish I knew more about html and website
design in moments like these!  In the meantime, I will have to take
what I can get.  I have decided to attend a social activity on
meetup.com, although the theme and time is yet to be determined.  In
the mean time, I have made a bit of progress on my November plans:
I’ve set up a girls night of Italian food and holiday ballet!  This
way I get to kill two birds with one stone: taste-testing the best
Columbus has to offer in Italian cuisine and checking out the fine
arts theater for the first time!  It should be fun.  Plus, the best
part is that I don’t know four or five of the ladies attending, so
there will be plenty of opportunity for more progress on the
Friendship Meter.

Hooray for networking with new ladies, online or otherwise!

The Art of Conversation


I’ve often noticed that successful people are outgoing, comfortable talking to strangers, and easy in conversation.  The ability to strike up a pleasant, engaging conversation with just about anyone can come in hand everywhere, however, not just in the world of business.

I think I would like to develop my ability to converse successfully with strangers – after all, it seems like an important skill in finding and keeping friends!

The Friends Forever Friendship Endeavor October Plan


Because this month is still focused on creating opportunities for friendship, the following goal will be my objective:

1. Invite two separate potential friends to get together

2. Go out at least two times (whether I invite or am invited)

And that’s it! 4 technical activities ought to keep me busy. I think that the more I get used to putting myself out there and talking with potential friends, the easier it will be to accomplish my monthly goals and the greater the opportunity I will have to make true forever friends. Sweet.

Last month’s success has me energized and happy, and I’m ready for the new challenge of getting actively involved in my own social life, as a participant instead of as a passive observer who’s just along for the ride!

http://www.succeedsocially.com/plans: This guy hit the nail on the head, and I’ll be taking some of his advice!

Amen!

Previous Older Entries