Years ago, I volunteered on the entertainment sub-committee for my job’s annual summer party. One of my tasks involved coming up with giveaway prize ideas: a few high-value “grand” prizes, and enough door prizes so that almost everyone left a winner.
Before purchasing the prizes, my committee shared our ideas with the larger planning group. The list included gift cards from Target as a few of the door prizes.
One of the alcohol sub-committee members wrinkled her face at the mention of Target.
“Target? Ha! Does anyone shop at Target? Do you think anyone’s gonna want that? I don’t even know where a Target is!”
Everyone fell silent. Even the crickets in the potted plants went mute.
Does anyone shop at Target? Is she for real? It’s only one of the most popular superstores in the country. Where she been?
Around the conference table, people hid grins and stifled chuckles as Mrs. “I don’t even know where a Target is” scanned the room looking for validation and found none.
Finally someone piped up:
“Uh, yeah. I shop at Target. I love Tar-zhay! Who doesn’t?”
A woman from the food committee added, “I go to Target for ONE THING and I always leave with 10 other things I’m not even sure I need. They just have good stuff!”
It’s relevant to mention that Mrs. No-Target lives in a posh area of Los Angeles, near the beach in a spectacular home with a long winding driveway. L.A. has no fewer than 10 Targets. They are kind of hard to miss. Maybe she never has to leave her compound. Perhaps she has staff who take care of menial duties like shopping at discount stores. Is that what it’s like to have serious money? You don’t have to bother with knowledge of plebeian shopping centers?
It reminded me of Oprah, when she taped a camping episode of her show, and her amazement at discovering the existence of REI. She couldn’t believe an entire store dedicated to recreational equipment and sporting goods existed. I love Oprah, it’s an REI, not a cat café.
In the end, we gave away several Target gift cards at the party. The recipients loved them! One even did a little jig. At least that’s how I choose to remember it. Take that, Mrs. No-Target!
As a thank you to all of my readers – the loyalists, the newbies and everyone in between – I have partnered with several other bloggers to offer you the opportunity to enter to win a Target gift card of your very own! Thank you for your comments, encouragement and kind words, readers!
1. My personal life was like, “Hey girl, where you been?” My days seemed to consist of either being at work, thinking about work or recovering from the exhaustion of an intense workweek that left me so spent all I want nothing more than to recline on the couch, watching cartoon movies and other non-mentally taxing fare. In addition to that, most Thursday nights in the winter I played kickball with the company team. “I need to get a life!” I told my sister, N, during a phone chat. She chuckled. “I’m not insulting myself. I mean I actually need to get a life. This is pathetic. This isn’t me.”
2. A year and a half after moving to San Francisco, I kinda actually have some friends. Imagine that!
I decided to throw a party. Well…ok, not really a party, but a small gathering in my home – a place the size of one of Oprah’s walk-in closets at her Montecito ranch. A partini? A partito? Parties are even better with a theme so I settled on a “girls’ night in” since I’m acquainted with more women than men.
For nine of the years I lived in L.A., I threw an annual post-holiday party. Sadly, the last two holiday seasons sailed by without an event. I didn’t know enough people to legitimize throwing a party.
Who would I have invited? The mailperson who insists on cramming grocery ads in my mailbox even though I have unsubscribed from the junk? (You are not fooling anyone by crossing out the apartment number!) The Spanish teacher whose class I took when I first moved here? Would he insist on conversing only in Spanish? My chatty, eccentric chiropractor? She’d be trying to recruit clients all night, no doubt. (“Stand here. Look in this mirror. Now, do you see how lopsided you are when you stand up straight?! It’s incredible, isn’t it? Come to my office; I’ll fix it! Life changing!”)
Or maybe the inquisitive, cherub-cheeked young checker at my local grocery store who always comments when I buy Now & Laters, “Oh! I haven’t had these since I was a kid.” The same comment every time. Well, I still eat them because my one true addiction sugar. I’m trying to get the monkey off my back, but it’s clinging to me like Spanx! And anyway, I hate when people feel the need to make commentary on my purchases.
I limited the guest list to 12, including me. A mix of women I know from work, friends of friends who are now my friends, a few women I met thanks to Girlfriend Circles and friends from L.A. who now live here. A fun, diverse group of women in their early to mid-30s (and one late twenty-something). Tip: I always invite more people to a party than my place can handle. Unless you’re throwing an “I’m handing out free cash and weed!” party, the acceptance rate will probably be around 60 – 70%. This is not a scientific figure, I just know from experience throwing many events. Plus, there are almost always last-minute cancellations.
Have you ever been to a party without music? I really don’t understand it. What kind of party is that? A wake?
DJ Keisha Keish streamed a mix of hip-hop, hip-pop & top 40, prompting song requests from the group and shameful admissions of liking music you know is offensive and sometimes downright misogynistic, but the beat is so damn good you can’t help yourself. See: almost anything by Juicy J.
Tip: Prepare a playlist in advance, keeping in mind the mood you wish to set. Consider asking guests for their favorite songs to add to the playlist.
BITES & BUBBLES
Inspired by friends who are avid Pinterest-projecters, I turned to the site to find ideas for the food and drink menu. I decided on a combination of fun finger foods like tangy barbecue meatballs, one “sophisticated” dish, recipe by Martha Stewart; and a bubbly, easy-to-make Kir Royale as the signature drink.
I saved prep time by shopping for most of the groceries on Instacart. Thanks to Google Shopping Express I also ordered party supplies online, including a couple of serving dishes I neglected to purchase and ordered the night before the partito for delivery the next morning.
Marshmallow popcorn balls
For a healthy choice: a berry salad with a light sugar glaze and optional creme fraiche topping.
The wine station before the guests arrived
Creamy Pasta with Peas, recipe from Martha Stewart
GAMES & GIGGLES
The party gave me the perfect excuse to break out the Cards Against Humanity game gifted to me on my last birthday.
The first player (The “Card Czar”) is determined by answering the question “Who pooped most recently?” Of course, this means as a group you have to actually talk about when you pooped. I learned more about my new friends’ bowel movements than I could never have imagined or necessarily wanted to know.
“I think at like 10 this morning after breakfast?”
“I go every morning like clockwork!”
“If I don’t poop daily I get really cranky!”
After titters, giggles and me being teased for the many faces of disgust I made each time someone said “poop” (damn my vivid imagination!), the game commenced.
We spent most of the evening talking and laughing, digressions in conversation alternating with each round of the game. Topics veering from secrets of aging well to the details of G’s recent engagement (“How did he ask?” “What a pretty ring!” “Were you surprised?”) and careers (one of my friends is a urologist which always fascinates people) and every single gal’s favorite topic: dating (blech).
I’d intended to have Magic Mike playing in the background. My friend E surprised me with the DVD for Valentine’s Day this year, knowing my uncharacteristic affinity (read: crush from afar of embarrassing proportions) for Channing Tatum. What a pal!. However, the WORST ELECTRONIC DEVICE I HAVE EVER PURCHASED aka my Blu Ray player wouldn’t play the movie. Gotdamn piece of nothing good.
Tip: Something inevitably will go wrong at a party; roll with it and adjust. Don’t freak out and be that host(ess).
The party wound down naturally after hours of belly laughing and too many champagne cocktails on my part. My guests left with smiles, new acquaintances made, good times had, exchanges of hugs and “We have to get together again soon!” As I closed the door behind the last guest just before midnight, I grinned with the satisfaction of successfully pulling off my first party in San Francisco.
I'm Keisha ("Kee-shuh", not to be confused with Ke$ha). I am a (later) thirty-something, non-mommy, non-wife, who lives in San Francisco, California New York and has lots of opinions on lots of things.