Like many of you, this weekend I will be going to a party as someone I'm not. Halloween, after all, is the time of year we can don an alter ego, look foolish and be excused.
Party aficionado Cheryl Najafi, author of The New York Times best-seller “You're So Invited,” is all for it.
“Themes — including costume parties — are a great device to get people to loosen up at a party,” said Najafi, who encourages hosts and guests to break out of their entertainment ruts more often.
She's right. Although the thought of going to a costume party used to make my stomach fill with carbolic acid and my forehead sprout hives (what if I show up dressed as Daffy Duck and everyone else is in black tie?), the parties where hosts have me asked to take part in a theme were always better, and made me a better person.
That's partly because, as Najafi said, “Giving guests something to do beforehand (like plan a costume), gets the party started long before the evening begins.”
So true. I have been thinking about my costume and this party for weeks. But it's also because life gets better when we don't take ourselves — or our homes or our parties — too seriously.
Relax. Change it up. Break some rules. Those are Najafi's mantras.
I'm inclined to agree. Over the past several years I have gone to parties dressed as a zombie doctor (wearing tattered and stained surgical scrubs, fake blood, grave mud, and sporting garden tools as surgical instruments), as Marlo Thomas's “That Girl” (a lifelong fantasy of mine), and, to a heroes and villains party, as a bad, bad carb (white bread jeans, sugar white T-shirt with empty bread bags taped to me.)
I had a blast each time.
“So many hosts are afraid to have a theme party because they think they will be a fail,” Najafi said, “but they're the most fun because they are instant ice breakers.”
This Saturday I will dress up as Mary Ann from the old TV show “Gilligan's Island” (pigtails with little red bows, tied-up gingham shirt, blue jean capri pants). I'll join a table of several professionals dressed as the other castaways: Gilligan, the Skipper, the Professor, Mr. and Mrs. Howell, Ginger, and a few island natives.
Though some of these people I don't yet know, we will already have something in common: We will be shipwrecked together on a desert island. We'll look ridiculous, and will be laughing about it all.
Halloween kicks off a party season kickoff that runs through New Year's. Many of us, including me, will entertain more in these two months than we do during the other 10 months of the year combined, so party pointers from Najafi, who lives in Phoenix, are timely.