Sunday, August 30, 2009


As an author of several party books, I’ll use any excuse to host a party—even Labor Day. Not the pregnancy kind of labor day. It’s difficult to have a party when some woman is screaming “Get this baby out of here now!” No, I mean the upcoming holiday that celebrates the fact that we can finally send the kids back to school!

But I’m also lazy and don’t like to work too hard on hosting duties, even if it is “Labor” Day—the one day when we actually celebrate “work.” (Who came up with that idea? Somebody’s boss?)

So I’m here to help you plan a no-fuss, “no-labor” Labor Day Party, because it may be your last opportunity to party until Halloween. Begin by choosing a theme for your party. Hosting a plain old Labor Day Party doesn’t sound too inviting. Your guests may think you’re having them over to help you paint the house or build an extra bedroom. That’s not a party. That’s a scam. And if you’re inviting me, I’m busy that day. Instead, give it some personality and make it “The Greenbrook Grill Gathering,” “The Back Lot Bar-B-Q,” “The Pothole Lane Pot Luck, or “Meet Your Reclusive Neighbors Block Party.”

Set yourself up as CEO, then micro-manage the party by dividing the neighbors into groups (according to how well they get along). Give them important names like “The Invitation Committee,” “The Food Group,” “The Decorating Team,” “The Games and Activities Tribe,” and “The Clean-Up Crew.”

If you’re having the classic Neighborhood Block Party, make invitations by first enlarging a map of your neighborhood. Make copies, label each of the homes with clever names, such as “The Wacky Warners” or “The House That Never Sold” and mark the party place with an “X.”

Block off the street with police tape and set up the party in the middle. Or have it in someone (else)’s backyard, a nearby park or the homeowner’s association clubhouse. Ask everyone to share their folding tables and chairs, or other spare furniture such as those front-porch couches, then decorate them with colorful balloons. Have personalized T-shirts printed with words like, “Killer Labor Day Party 2009!” or “Our Street’s Cooler than Your Street!”

Ask guests to bring a special dish that covers one of the four casserole food groups—meat casseroles, salad casseroles, veggie casseroles and dessert casseroles. To keep the crowd under control—and the teens from toilet papering your house—have a few games and activities on hand, such as a corn-husking contest (blindfolded), a scarecrow-stuffing contest (go goth this year), a pie-eating contest (cherry makes the best mess), watermelon seed-spitting contest (the gals will love this one), and a pumpkin toss (from the roof.)

For clean up, write down tasks such as, “Fold up the chairs,” “Throw away the paper products,” or “Call in a Crime Scene Cleaner.” Have guest pick a task from a bowl—and don’t let them leave until the place is spotless.

Or, since it’s Labor Day, just make the kids clean up everything. That way they’ll be glad to get back to school.


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