Remember the running joke on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" about Mary's parties? Basically, all of her parties were complete disasters, usually because nobody showed up.
Last night I had my second party in less than a month where the turnout was ridiculously low. I'm thinking of giving up on entertaining altogether.
My first party disaster was in mid-December. I can kind of understand why it wasn't particularly popular: it was one of those candle parties where the guests shop for things. Now that I and most of my friends are in our late 30s, we're pretty much over the whole shopping party concept. I'm still a sucker for Pampered Chef parties, but not so much the other stuff.
However, I'd promised a friend that I would throw a candle party, so I invited 40 or so women that I thought might be interested. The Evite showed that there would probably be 3-4 guests, but that sounded acceptable to me. I cleaned my house, made a cheese ball, baked some cookies and waited for the guests to arrive. My friend, the presenter, came and set up the candles. We sat and chatted. The party start time came and went. We continued chatting. An hour passed. Nobody showed up. My friend started putting away her candles. I started putting away the food. We parted ways and went on with our day.
My next event, a cookie exchange party, ended up okay. I had a total of six guests, two of whom stayed into the evening to play games.
Then I decided to throw a gathering last night. I'm friends with a group of women who meet most Wednesday evenings for dinner, wine and conversation. Nobody had "called" this week, so I sent an e-mail to the group on Monday offering to make ham and bean soup, potato soup and cornbread.
Quite a few regulars declined for various reasons, and one person accepted. There were at least 6-8 others who never replied at all, so I figured I'd have a smaller than usual group. As it turned out, only the one person who replied that she would be there actually showed up.
So there we were: two women, two big pots of soup, two batches of cornbread and a bottle of Zinfandel. Both soups were lovely - I had a bowl of each. We drank most of the bottle of wine and had a nice time discussing politics, work and travel. Eventually my husband came home and helped polish off a little bit more of the soup.
I can't help wondering if I'm the problem here. Are my parties boring? Am I boring? Is my house unpleasant in some way? Do I just throw too many parties?
Whatever the problem is, I think I will try to cut back on my impulsive party throwing. As much as I like having people over, it's too much work and expense to go to if nobody attends. Every year, fewer and fewer people bother to RSVP, even for my annual parties. Among those who do respond, many of the "Yes"es fail to show, and I never count on the "Maybe"s.
It's time I sat back and played out my social life for a while as a guest instead of a host. I'm sure it will be a lot cheaper and less frustrating.