A Message To Party Planners
By P. Samuels
First of all, let me wish you a hearty mazal tov on your simcha. May you have loads of nachas from this couple and from all of your children and grandchildren. You may have realized that my name is not on the roster of friends who chipped in to send something for your simcha. After what happened at your last simcha, I decided that I don’t want to “just chip in” ever again. When you read the following, everything will be clear.
When I walked in to the hall where your Kiddush took place, I was flabbergasted. The tables looked like they came off the pages of a magazine. That’s where they belong: in a magazine and not by a Yiddishe simcha.
Once upon a time, when a friend or relative was planning a simcha, I could take out my recipe book and decide which specialty will enhance her table. Today, some shuls do not allow home-baked goods, so I take out my phonebook, and decide from which approved bakery I will order something, and I also get the pleasure of deciding what to send. Whether baking or buying, there is still the option of asking the ba’alas simcha which type of delicacy she prefers.
Before your previous simcha, when our friend called you to ask if you prefer a cake or some miniatures, you told her to just call the party planner. We sent in some money, not even knowing what we paid for. At the Kiddush, I found two small bowls of rugalech on a corner table. One had a card with my name on it, and the other had our friend’s name. The only thing missing, in my opinion, were the words “zos nidvas” (“This is a donation from . . .”). I felt that the party planner had already planned how to set the tables, and exactly what belongs where, with nothing to spoil the perfect décor. I just hope she remembered to deduct our (and others’) contribution from her final bill.
A Yiddishe simcha is a time for rejoicing, and making others feel good is the ultimate simcha. For one of my simchas, a friend sent me a home-baked cake (it was in a place that allowed it) that was more than slightly lopsided. I instructed my party planner—I use one, too, as you shall soon see—to place it on the front table, and I told my daughter to make sure to serve it. The smile on my friend’s face and the pleasure she got seeing people making a berachah and enjoying her cake enhanced my simcha more than the fanciest sweet table would have done.
Dear party planner: Don’t think I begrudge you your parnassah. I, too, have used your services. It’s great knowing that someone is setting up the simcha, providing trays and bowls, and after Shabbos, taking everything home to wash and store. It definitely takes a big load off the head of an already harried ba’alas simcha. Where we do differ is in the way some things are done. Here are two true examples.
My friend once sent flowers to her machateneste who was making a simcha in her fancy new house. She even took the trouble to write a nice card and hand-deliver it to the florist to add to the bouquet.
When she got to the house, she naturally looked to see which flowers her florist delivered. To her dismay, she found her card on a flower arrangement which the party planner saw fit to put on the washing sink outside the restroom. I guess the flowers did not match her special décor. My friend was, understandably, miffed and she will probably think twice before sending anything to that machateneste.
I can attest to the veracity of the following story, because I was there. A relative, of modest means, sent flowers to her grandson’s tenaim. The kallah’s family, which b’H does have money, is the type that needs to have the latest, most up-to-date in table settings, regardless of whether or not they are even pretty. If it’s new and no one has seen it yet, then the party planner gets the go-ahead. The grandmother’s traditional bouquet did not fit in with the trendy avant-garde floral display, so it was banished to a corner table at the far end of the room. I only got to see it because I looked for it.
My wish to you, dear party planners, is that you be busy helping Yiddishe kinder prepare for their simchas. Just please rethink your methods, eliminate some of the formality, and replace it with genuine consideration for the feelings of guests. Be available if any guests ask for suggestions, and order for them if they request it, but also be flexible. If you get three Oh Nuts peanut-chew platters, or four trays of Shloimy’s miniatures, use your creativity to set it out so everyone should be pleased. Purple and yellow flowers on a blue tablecloth aren’t the end of the world, and it’s definitely preferable to set them out than to hurt the feelings of the sender.
One more note to you, dear friend: I am not planning to ignore your simcha. I’m thinking of sending a kugel to your house, to serve your guests as they arrive for Shabbos. And I will iy’H attend. Mazal tov!