tips for

Tips for Surviving Political Conversations at Parties

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Have an upcoming occasion where surviving political conversations seems impossible?  Like, say, a lazy Fourth of July party, or, I don’t know, a fancy dinner.  If so, this is the guide for you. I grew up in a purple state, and after I got bored of moving around that one I moved to another purple state. It was nice, pretending like my vote mattered. But now I live in a solid red state in a city that sometimes votes blue, and I have to tell you, sometimes I’d rather jab a fork in my eye than talk to anyone about my political leanings. I’m an American, but I have a feeling some of our European friends might feel the same way right about now.

I’m not a political blogger, so I’m not about to force my political views on you.  But I am less than a week from giving birth (hopefully) and I will be on a hosting hiatus for a little while, so I thought I’d share how I manage to leave gatherings without any fork marks on my face. I consider myself independent and my husband is a registered libertarian (they exist!) so we often leave dinners and parties rolling our eyes, but I’ve never actually been offended by anyone. Well, except that one girl who thought we should bring back slavery and spend more time executing the gays than ax murderers. That’s got to be an extreme though, right?

Surviving Political Conversations 101

Perfect Your Table Dive

I swear guys, she was right here.

This one is very important and not at all facetious. Every other Thursday or so, I have to go eat with a large group of people who have at least twenty years on me. Okay, I don’t have to. They’re my husband’s coworkers and we choose to. Most of them are lovely, normal people, or we wouldn’t go. But, a couple of them are very staunch Republicans who like to make their opinions known about everything. Let me point out that them being Republican is not the issue – if I was in California instead of Tennessee it might be the staunch Democrats who bother me – but surviving political conversations is a lot harder when every single comment is political. So, enter the table dive.

That’s right. Just drop off your chair and roll under the table. Wait it out, at least until there’s food or you can get a server to bring you booze. Now, you can try and do this in secret, but chances are your companions are going to notice when you suddenly throw yourself at the ground. They may even acknowledge it by asking if you’re okay. Ignore them until the topic has changed. If it appears it’s not going to change, others at the table may soon join you. Hopefully one of you thought ahead and brought something fun to do like, playing the board game Taboo until they get the hint or tying people’s shoelaces to their chairs so they realize what they’ve done.

Avoid the Bozo

This one’s slightly more serious. Any Saturday Night Live watchers? If so, you probably know who I’m talking about. We’re looking at Drunk Uncle or Girl You Wish You Wouldn’t Have Started a Conversation With at Party. These people know nothing. They’re probably drunk. The combination of the two things might make your head explode if you attempt to engage them. Don’t go thinking you’re going to get an easy win for your political team either. The bozo is not going to believe you won any debate, even if all they did was ramble, “MAGA!” over and over.

You should also be aware if you have somehow become the bozo yourself. Did you have too much to drink? Are you suddenly quoting Donald Trump tweets to anyone passing by? Please, do the rest of the party a favor and hide out somewhere until logic returns, or at least until you have a stronger urge to dance than to speak.

Know Your Stuff

Surviving political conversations is much easier when you read.

You know what’s worse than an alternate fact? Nothing. So, if you’re going somewhere that surviving political conversations seems necessary, and you’re sick and tired of all those terrible lies you hear, do your research. Favorite some of the news items you read in your phone and be prepared to whip them out. I’m not kidding. But please, for the love of all that is holy, do not use media sources like Huffington Post or The Blaze to prove any point. If you’re looking for facts, find actual facts. Take a look at this news breakdown. It shows the slant of major news sources. Try to use sources in the middle, or even better, academic ones.

This is honestly super important. We’re all getting less and less willing to compromise because we search out news that backs up whatever we believe, and the internet makes it possible to find a source for that, no matter what it is. Here’s a site about Walmart being a site for FEMA prison camps, for example. You still think the earth is flat? Yep, there’s a site for that too. So, when you’re arguing whatever point it is that gets you all riled up, use non-biased sources if you want anyone to listen to you. If it’s a topic you know nothing about, it’s probably one you don’t care about all that much, so just don’t get into it.

Don’t use the Words Racist or Snowflake

This may be you.

Okay, I admit snowflake might be a personal pet peeve of mine. It’s just stupid. Does anyone actually get insulted when you call them a snowflake? What’s the issue with individuality? And finally, why are the ones who use this word so often the ones who are always crying about people not agreeing with them? I digress. The point is, these are words that show you haven’t put any thought into what you’re saying. You’re spouting out talking points from the TV or Facebook, and that only makes surviving political conversations even harder. 

A little note about the word racist – I am well aware racism exists. I live in the south. But I’m also well aware that it shuts down a conversation faster than anything else so you will have to think of another way to get your point across.  If you’re at a party where everyone suddenly puts on white hoods, you can go ahead and assume they are racist, but I would wait until you get home to talk about it – and I’d get home immediately.

Remember, You Aren’t Going to Change Their Minds

Sigh. I wish this wasn’t the case. It would be great if somehow we could get through to each other and have meaningful conversations that end with both parties feeling like they’ve learned something. There’s actually a pretty great book  (Tribe by Sebastian Junger if you’re interested) that talks about how people are better off when everyone wants to work but also wants to provide for those that can’t. Sounds like if Democrats and Republicans formed one mutant human, right? One day, maybe, we’ll all get along. But until then the most basic rule of surviving political conversations is accepting that you’re going home feeling disappointed, no matter which side you’re on.

move in a hurry

The Best Ways to Move Houses in a Frenzy

Are you looking for the best ways to move in a frenzy? Not the best ways to have people tell you, “Wow, you’re an amazing packer!” I can’t help with that, because that’s not my goal. I move all the time and I just want to survive it. Okay, not ALL the time. It’s been eight months since my last move. Before that I did stay in a house for a record two years. That’s totally normal for a non-military family right? I’ve moved across the country, across town, and literally across the street. Sometimes I have lots of time to prepare, others I have zero. This time around I have about three weeks to move to a new neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean it’s not chaotic. I’m pregnant, my husband works ten hour days and has class on the weekends, and my toddler and dogs won’t do heavy lifting.

So, what’s a frenzied hostess to do? Get help? Of course not. That would cost money. Although I’ll be honest with you, if you’re moving across the country and not across the city, the help is totally worth it. You’re going to have to get a truck anyway, unless you don’t own anything or don’t want to take it with you. Use the good moving service packers. You won’t regret it. If you are moving across the city, though, I have seen what those movers do and I’ve tried a variety of things myself, so I have some ideas on the best ways to move on your own. Since I can’t currently host anything, I thought I’d go a little off topic and share.

Best Ways to Move in 7 Days or More

Packing for a move in a frenzy
Here go the bar supplies – very important. Notice the paper and plastic wrapping. Very professional.

Use Suitcases for Non-Glass

Does that sound like weird advice? It probably does, but let me explain. Boxes are fun and all, but they’re a lot of work to tape up, they can still break, plus if you do too good a job and bother to label them, you may never open them again. I like to fill up my suitcases with things, then unpack immediately at the new house, then bring the suitcases back and do it again. No, it’s actually not that much work. Yes, I do make more trips. But here’s another bonus – suitcases roll. I’m short, so even when I’m not pregnant carrying big square boxes around is quite irritating. Only having to lift a suitcase in and out of the car, or upstairs, makes moving much easier. Coolers and other empty trunk-like items also work.

Legitimately how I drove with my mugs and champagne glasses. Please excuse the messy car, we’re moving!
Everything survived, no need to worry. Proof of life shot glasses.

Use Lots of Paper or Plastic Bags for Glass

I always have too many plastic bags, which you may have noticed in this post. So when I move they come in handy. I put one bag in a glass, then wrap with a second bag, and that’s that. Do they survive the move, you ask? Yes. Most of my glasses even survived a cross-country move this way, in a box not marked fragile. I didn’t try that on purpose. When I packed I was putting things temporarily in storage and didn’t realize my life on the west coast was coming to an end.  The paper thing is probably safer – it’s what the real movers do – but I don’t usually have paper on hand. The point is, make sure there are fluffy things surrounding your glasses. Unfortunately, there is no cheat code for this, unless you want to bring them one by one. I’ve done that too.

Break Up the Big Stuff

Do you need that end table right now? Can you dismantle your desk or move the guest bedroom before you have to move your own room? This is kind of a necessity for me right now, since I’m handling the bulk of the move and I’m not allowed to lift anything too heavy. I have to rely on different people to help me whenever they’re available, not whenever I am. This is how my three week move that seems like plenty of time has actually become time crunched. But, it’s okay, because I can live with a half-house. For example, we got help with our formal dining table last week, but the kitchen table is staying until the final day. We have room to eat either way.

Best Ways to Move in Less than 7 Days

Fit Your Clothes Everywhere

Okay, so I actually do this every time, regardless of how long my move lasts. Who wants to pack up clothes? Do people actually take them off the hanger? I have used those crazy boxes they have for wardrobes on longer moves, but when you have no time, just keep them on the hangers they’re already on and toss them on top of whatever else you’re toting. They don’t take up much space, they’re light, and it is so nice to simply put them back on the shelves like they always existed in the new closet and nowhere else. The best ways to move do not include wasting time on clothes – ever.

Get Small Boxes & a Dolly

This may seem counter-intuitive, but look at the boxes I posted directly above this. Those were all fragile glass, and they were heavy. I couldn’t have lifted them on my own even if I wasn’t pregnant. It was fine for this move since we do have three weeks, but if I was doing a short-time move, these boxes would have slowed me down. I would have had to find someone else to carry them, when I could have broken them down into multiple boxes and known for sure I could carry them myself. Packing sucks, and when you’re in a hurry I know you want to throw everything into one box and go, but don’t do it. Use lots of little boxes and find a dolly to make transportation easy. Or, the very least, top one layer of books with one layer of pillows. Then you can halfway carry it.

Don’t Make a Donate Pile at the Old House

Moving so much is really awesome for one reason – my house is very light on useless crap. We donate a lot of things every time we move, as well as throw things away. But, when you’re really short on time, if you don’t already have the donate pile ready to go, do it at the new house. Perhaps you think you won’t donate it if you take it to the new house, but I’d be more concerned about time. Even big items of trash require special trips to the dump, and the less time you have in one house, the less special trips you can make. Yes, it’s extra work when you’re moving in, but time is of the essence to make sure you get everything packed. Leave the boxes of useless stuff somewhere you can’t avoid and you’ll make it to Goodwill eventually.

So there you have it. Those are my best ways to move in a frenzy. I am not concerned with perfect packing. Glasses will break if you get too crazy, yes, but you can throw all your shoes in one box without worrying about placement and I swear they will survive. Most stuff will, honestly, if you’re not going far. Don’t forget to shove strange shaped things into the floor of your car either. My bread maker never gets in a box, but it always finds its way somehow. Same goes for my guitar, my golf clubs, and even my plants. If I can move mostly by myself with a toddler and two dogs constantly at my feet, you can do it too! Good luck!

Busy Hostess, Green Hostess

Can a Frenzied Hostess be a Green Hostess?

In my mind, I’m a green hostess. Not the color; I mean environmentally friendly. In reality, I’m pretty sure that’s not true at all. France banned paper cups and plates at the end of 2016, an ever since I read that I’ve been wondering how terrible these little life savers really are. There has to be some kind of a trade-off, right? Maybe washing a whole bunch of dishes is worse than using paper plates…

Nope! Not even close! Every single article I read trying to make myself feel better about using paper plates helped me feel the opposite. Reusable, they said. Use ceramic plates, they said, and wash them in your environmentally friendly dishwasher that you totally have (I actually do have one. But I know that’s not true for everyone). These are good intentions. But are they realistic? Can a frenzied hostess like myself ever really be a green hostess too? I already spend enough time trying to get everything else together. How am I supposed to worry about the environment when I’m in such a time crunch?

Tips to Becoming a Green Hostess

**This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no cost to you.**

Okay, so these are not going to be earth-shattering revelations. You’ve probably heard all of them before. But sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of things, and to go in with a specific plan to be environmentally friendly instead of feeling guilty about it later. I’m not the only one who feels guilty, right? When you take out bags and bags of trash after a barbecue, don’t you cringe just a little? I would say if you don’t feel a bit remorseful, this isn’t for you, but on the other hand, if you don’t care at all maybe you’re exactly who should be focusing on being a green hostess.

1. Buy Eco-friendly paper plates.

You think I’m crazy now, don’t you? I just spent all that time talking about paper plates and I still want to buy them. Look, here’s the thing. I can pretend to be a green hostess all I want, but the truth is, I already have enough dishes to do after a party than to have to worry about every single guest and how many plates they want to dirty up. If it’s a small party, yes, by all means, use the good dishes. But a big barbecue or Halloween party, or anything involving 20+ people, is going to make being a green hostess much more difficult unless you get a caterer who does all the cleanup for you. These plates aren’t  necessarily the cheapest options, but you will have to get tips about cheap somewhere else. I like these and these.

2. Set up signs for “Recycle” and “Trash.”

Whenever I go to a party, I always ask if the host recycles. I think in some places it’s a given that they do, but it’s not everywhere. I couldn’t even get my trash company to pick up my recyclables when I lived in North Carolina, so I just gave up. Make it easy on everyone. Put up some big garbage bags (or trash cans, if you have multiple) with signs above them so everyone can easily deposit their used goods. This is going to be environmentally friendly, plus less time consuming for you. If you make it obvious where you want their garbage, guests will be more likely to throw stuff away. Have you ever been to a hostess’s house where they put the trashcan in a pantry or under the sink? No one wants to go through your stuff to find the garbage, so it gets left out.

3. Skip the Streamers.

You already know this one’s my favorite, right? I’ll take any excuse not to decorate, and this is a great one. Leave all those paper products on the shelves of the party store, friends, and tell everyone you’re a green hostess. I’m not saying you can’t decorate at all, but why not get some reusable decor or try out some garbage? Wine bottles are my favorite decorations saved from the trash. Just peel all those labels off and stick some candles in them and you’ve become super fancy. Then you shove them into a cabinet somewhere and use them again next time (or drink more – also fine). Now you’re saving paper, plus the headache of having to tape all those nonsense strips of paper all over your house.

4. Take your Reusable Bags when Food Shopping.

Look, I’ll be honest. I have no idea what to tell you about environmentally friendly food, other than buy local and don’t buy things individually wrapped in plastic 15 times. But I can tell you this. Reusable shopping bags are great. Your house won’t become crowded with plastic bags, plus there’s less to carry because they hold more. I sincerely don’t understand why everyone isn’t already using them. They save time loading and unloading, and they save the environment by not getting thrown into landfills. Seriously, if you don’t already have them, get them! Then use them every time you have a party, and eventually you’ll remember to use them every time you shop. Now that’s a green hostess!

Housecleaning Tips to help you Prepare for Drop-by Guests

Housecleaning Tips in Case of Drop-in Hosting

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Look guys, I know what you’re thinking. Really? We should be taking housecleaning tips from someone who says she has no time for anything? I have news for you. Part of the reason why I have no time for anything is I’m always cleaning my house! Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But, seriously, I have two dogs and a baby. If I don’t keep up on my cleaning, after a week I’ll wake up to discover everything I own is covered in dog fur and my child is eating rotting leaves and sticks off the floor. This is not an exaggeration. The only alternative to constant cleaning that I can think of is getting rid of one of those little parasites, but I just can’t choose which one.

So, am I recommending you do the exact same as me? No, of course not. You may have made much wiser life decisions than myself and never invested in a furry friend. Perhaps your house stays pretty clean, or you could even have a cleaning lady (but don’t tell me about that; I’ll be too jealous). I’m only offering up my thoughts on a tidy house because of the one thing that every hostess dreads – the drop in visitor. You know who I’m talking about. For me, it’s my parents. They decide they want to see the baby and give me a call twenty seconds before they pull in the driveway. I can’t let my parents know I live in filth, now can I? So I try to keep my house in generally good condition.

Messy vs. Dirty

Before I get to my housecleaning tips, I would like to point out one thing. I have no tips to help you with a “messy” house. When I think “messy,” I think kids’ toys all over the place. I’m more concerned with “dirty.” Now that’s the house you want to avoid. Have you ever dropped in on someone unannounced? I’m guilty of doing this to my neighbors. Every time I do, no matter who it is and regardless of what their house looks like, they say, “Come on in, excuse the mess.” I say the same thing, whether I think my house is messy or not. Why do we do that? If you drop in on someone, do you expect their house to be spotless? Probably not.

Come to think of it, the only house my friends and I ever discuss is the one that actually is completely spotless. We wonder where all the toys are. Are they in garage? Do we need to donate some to their little girl because she doesn’t have any? Are they in some mysterious closet no one has ever seen? It’s fascinating! But seriously, I’m not going to notice the bouncy seat in the corner. I might notice if you have wine stains on your carpet, dog vomit in a corner, and a layer of dust so thick I can spell my name on your coffee table.

Housecleaning Tips – The Checklist

housecleaning to-do list

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I live off a checklist. We’re in the 21st century now folks, so you don’t have to use pen and paper for this. I use Wunderlist on my iPad and it is great. There are a lot more complex ones, and when I share with clients I tend to use Todoist or Gqueues, but for me personally, Wunderlist is all I need. Here’s what’s great about using an app checklist:

  1. You can make events repeat. So, I have cleaning routines. I don’t have to wonder when the last time I cleaned the guest bathroom was. I check it off the day I do it, it disappears, and then reappears in two weeks. Time to get back to work!
  2. If you don’t check it on the day it’s due, it turns red and looks evil. Ugg, there’s nothing I hate more than an overdue checklist item. Some of you might need more motivation than that, I know. But for me crossing items off is the ultimate satisfaction.
  3. You can split up tasks into groups. For example, a few of mine are work, family, house, and writing. This helps you keep track of everything and see if you’re missing out. Plus you can easily see which task is the most important to get done.

It takes a little while to get your checklist worked out so that it’s the most efficient, but once it’s done, it’s so helpful. I know I’ve got to go clean my kitchen counters after this, then vacuum. Plus, that’s it for the day! My entire cleaning. I do one or two little things each day, and wah-lah, my house stays pretty tidy. That’s amazing considering the beasts that are always running around in here. If you’d like help making your own, I do have a few more suggestions you can find here.

Equipment

I like my checklist, but I’ll still use the easiest housecleaning equipment when I can be. Like, I vacuum everything. I mean EVERYTHING. For example, I use it on my laminate floors because sweeping takes way too long. I do have the option to switch it to barefloor over brushroll, which helps. I’m sure most vacuums have that option these days, but if yours doesn’t and you want it to, I recommend a Shark. I’ve had one for over five years and it’s still going fine despite all the things I ask it to do, like clean up cobwebs and constantly eat dog fur. Actually, it works so well, we bought another one in our last house so we could have one for upstairs and downstairs, because we are that lazy.

Unfortunately, I have not figured out a way to vacuum counters or toilets, so I do have to do some other cleaning. For that I like to buy multi-surface cleaners. The less cleaners I have to switch between, the better. I also keep a bunch of rags handy to get everything wiped down quickly, and then they get thrown on the dryer. I’ll admit, I am looking forward to the day when the human beast is able to help me out, but until then I’m fine with my checklist and minimal supplies. It’s great to know I’m not going to spend my entire weekend cleaning up, and if I decide to host a real party, the prep can be mostly cooking and decorating instead of cleaning. Hooray! Hopefully these housecleaning tips can help free up your weekend as well.

smash-cake

No Time for Execution

Today I’m going to be boring you with some random thoughts about hosting. It seems like for some reason, even though I’ve come up with 8 million ideas and started working on prep weeks in advance, I have no time for execution. I give up and say, eh, no one’s going to care where I put this decoration, and no one’s even going to know I scrapped guacamole off the menu. That cake I pretended to practice decorating looks crazy, but it’s going to get smashed anyway. These things are true, of course. But since I give up something every time, I’m obviously trying to do too much, right? I have to wonder why that is.

Does Getting Older Mean no Time for Execution?

There must be something that happens to people as they get older. We all of a sudden like fancy chalkboards and homemade paper flowers. My friends and I used to throw theme parties all the time in college. Toga parties, pirate parties, jungle parties, you name it, we did it. But even with those themes, and all the free time we had, there were rarely any decorations. I would also venture a guess that any type of food, even out of a bag, only made it to the white trash party we had that one time. I think half the reason we threw that party is because we wanted to make fish sticks. Don’t give me that look, people. Like you’ve never created an elaborate excuse to make fish sticks? Anyway, no one ever complained we didn’t try hard enough.

Nowadays, though, we live in a Pinterest world. We have to have parties or shoot blue or pink confetti into the air to tell everyone we know whether we’re having a boy or a girl when we’re pregnant. This is so weird, isn’t it? Does anyone, other than perhaps your mom, actually care what the sex of your baby is? No! No one cares. Yet for some reason they’ll still ask you how you’re announcing it. My own grandmother thought I was crazy when I sent cheap red and black invitations for my son’s first birthday party. She wanted to know what the theme was. Come on, Grandma. He’s one. He’s not going to remember it. Honestly, I don’t think he even enjoyed it. A Mickey Mouse theme would not have helped.

no time for execution
Who has time for a theme? Just throw stuff on the wall.

Forging Ahead Anyway

Even though I know all of these crazy details people feel like they have to do are silly and mostly created by the strange wasteland that is the internet, I try to do them anyway. I have visions of parties that are beautiful and lovely where all the food is delicious. Even my wedding fell short once I actually got there though, albeit just the decorations, and only because people kept messing with how I wanted it. But you see, there it is. I could  easily have adjusted my wedding tables the way I wanted, but I ran out of time.  If I wasn’t connected to the internet, I probably would have had tables with a vase of flowers and called it a day. And that was for my wedding – imagine how much lazier I would be for something smaller!

Maybe I should have been born in a different era, when even if there was no time to execute party plans it wouldn’t matter. On the other hand, I like all this stuff. I really do. It’s so fun. Do I plan too much? Yes. Do I always wind up giving up on something? Absolutely. Am I going to keep doing it exactly the same way? Probably. I hope you enjoy the ride!

 

how to (1)

Welcome to The Frenzied Hostess blog!

Hello! I see you’ve stumbled across my little hostess blog. Perhaps this was a happy accident, or maybe you were seeking like-minded people who live their lives in a frenzy. Either way, I do hope you’ll stay and check it out.

I am a work-from-home bookkeeper and mother to a one-year-old. As you can imagine, I don’t have a lot of spare time. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to hang out with my friends and family, and it definitely doesn’t stop me from wanting to host a party or a meal every now and again. With Pinterest and all those other DIY sites out there, it’s started to seem like every event has to be fabulously designed and perfectly set up. If it’s not, you’re a failure.  Unfortunately for me, even though I always start out with the best of intentions, I hardly ever come up with the beautiful arrangements I see on  blogs like this one. They make it look so easy, but how could I manage it? I live in a permanent time crunch.

You’re probably wondering why I started a blog if I’m already short on time. Well, I recently moved to a new state, so my regularly scheduled gatherings are currently being attended by no one one. Since I have a little bit more free time, I decided to try something creative. I also wanted to remind everyone that we don’t have to be perfect. Most of the US is so busy, I’m impressed we find time to eat. That doesn’t mean we can’t put in any effort. I’ve found focusing on one part of a party and just doing the basics for the rest often works out. Of course, I always aim bigger. I’m a big planner. I plan things for years in my mind. It’s just that  by the end of my planning, when it’s actually time to execute, I have to give up  ideas because there just isn’t time.

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy my humble little hostess blog, and if all goes well I’d love to show you how you can be a good hostess, even if you don’t have time to accomplish all the grandeur you’ve built up in your mind.

I’ll see you soon!