Why Disasters Can Make Your Party Better

Posted by: samy August 3, 2015 No Comments

This weekend a friend of ours held a backyard barbecue and pool party at her new home.

She purchased it, in large part, for its entertaining appeal: a raised bungalow that features a large walk-out basement with a bar, pool table, and comfy media centre with a huge movie screen and projector. The backyard, surrounded by huge trees for both beauty and privacy, and has a large in-ground pool and hot tub. As we said, perfect for parties.

Entertaining epicentre: a poolside tiki bar is perfect for outdoor parties
Entertaining epicentre: a poolside tiki bar is perfect for outdoor parties

She sent out invitations in June for the August 2nd soirée. With 17 adults and kids in attendance, she had the outdoor table set, food prepped, bar stocked and extra towels piled beside the pool for swimmers’ convenience. Perfect.

Perfect pool party: guests relax and enjoy the sunny afternoon ...
Perfect pool party: guests relax and enjoy the sunny afternoon …

Except for one minor challenge. At 5pm the darkening sky started to rain, and within minutes, the wind went from gentle breeze to targeted roar and … the power went out.

Now this could have spelled disaster. In fact, to some hostesses, it probably would have. But here’s the thing: what should have sunk the party, made it better! Mother Nature’s party-pooper tantrum didn’t rain on guests’ parade, it made the event so much more fun as adults banned together to bring the table and chairs inside, round up kids out of the pool, gather candles and flashlights, and batten down the hatches as cushions and flower pots started to take flight.

With one barbecue, no power and 17 people to feed, adults all pitched in helping with Plan B for dinner prep, leading dance parties to keep the little ones entertained, and jumping behind the bar to whip up some liquid inspiration for the rest of the crew.

No power, no problem! Guests gather around a candlelit bar
No power, no problem! Guests gather around the indoor, candlelit bar

This turned a potentially terrible night into a happy, memorable one.

Here is what our friend did right. Feel free to adopt her tips for your next party, and if you have any tricks of your own, let us know in the comments below!

Related: How to Throw a Stress-Free and Stylish Cocktail Party

  1. Stay Flexible. Things may go wrong – in fact, you’re almost guaranteed they will – so don’t be so rigid that you can’t go with the flow. It’s a party.
  2. Have a Plan B. When we arrived, we knew a dinner-time storm was likely to happen. Our hostess already made the call that should the weather take a turn for the worse, we would move the feast indoors. She had cleared and designated space for the table to be relocated.
  3. Team Build. If a really big challenge occurs – like a power outage – recruit the guests to roll up their sleeves and get involved. It helps build memories and turns a problem into a fun activity for all.
  4. Mix It Up. We’ve long been proponents of serving both hot and cold foods, and making the bulk of it in advance, with only one or two items made a la minute. Why? It’s a time saver, stress saver and offers flexibility (see Tip #1). This party had a mix of barbecue, salads and finger foods – some home made, some purchased – and in the end, it was a lifesaver.

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