Entertaining with humor

Published 3:43 pm Monday, August 27, 2012

I almost tossed the brochure and registration form in the wastebasket when I saw the subject of the program, “Tips on Entertaining,” for a ministers wives’ retreat back in the late 1980s. I wasn’t into entertaining. I worked three days a week and stayed busy with other things. I couldn’t keep a spotless house, a must for entertaining, in my opinion. “Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll enjoy seeing my friends and meet new ones,” so I registered for the event. The speaker was Blackie Scott, an author, humorist and motivational speaker.

Soon after Blackie stepped in front of her audience, she set me, and probably some others who lived with the misconception your house had be to spotless to entertain, straight.

“Honey,” she drawled, “just check your light bulbs and change ‘em if they’re too bright.” You know—dim lights can hide dust and other housekeeping flaws.

She urged us to be “in control” by suggesting that you close a door and put masking tape on the knob. That way no guest will open the door and find an unmade bed and a bunch of stuff you’d thrown out of sight that you didn’t have time to put away.

Don’t experiment with something new when you throw a dinner party. She said there was no reason to worry about how the food was going to turn out if you used your time-tested recipes that you knew worked.

She told an amusing tale about a young bride who was cooking gumbo for a dinner party honoring some of her husband’s business associates. It was the first time she had used the recipe and she thought her gumbo wasn’t thick enough. She threw some outdated rice into it and called Blackie to come check it. There were some mysterious little black specks floating around in it. Blackie recognized the specks. Weevils! It was no time for panic. Blackie again took control. She reached for the pepper shaker and sprinkled enough in that pot of gumbo to make one black speck indistinguishable from another.

Blackie approached her subject with humor, but when I read her book, I realized that she was very organized. She offered many simple, common sense ideas, such as, when you send out your invitations, hang a wreath on the door decorated for the special occasion and attach one of the invitations. Then you’ll have a constant reminder that you have a deadline to meet. Deadlines I certainly understand.

Suppose you have guests arriving for a visit who give no clue about how long they’ll be staying. How do you find out without asking them? One tactful approach is to have a friend drop in to meet them and get her to ask the question. Then she reports to you. Clever, wouldn’t you say?

Blackie kept us amused, but we left knowing she is a loving, caring person who truly loves to entertain. Her book, “It’s Fun to Entertain,” is still available and timely today.