13 Top Tips for Throwing a Party When You Have a Chronic Illness

A couple of weeks ago, I turned 50 and I really wanted to celebrate with a party. I shared the following tips in a Facebook live broadcast on the day. But just in case you didn’t see that or you prefer to take things in, in writing, I thought I’d share them here too, with the added wisdom of a little hindsight and an extra tip!

  1. Remember you’re choosing the consequences!

Sometimes we can choose to do too much, we just have to be willing and prepared to deal with the consequences (and what better excuse than turning 50!) I planned lots of rest before and after the party. Although my parents were coming to stay a couple of days after, they were warned that I might not have done all the clearing up by the time they arrived and that I would probably have to take it easy. I was willing to accept not feeling on top form for a while afterwards and when I felt rough for a few days I didn’t resist or resent it.

  1. Only invite people you really want to spend time with.

I decided I would only invite people that I really enjoyed socialising with. By letting go of the politics of who I thought I should invite, or how to get a good mix of people I let go of a lot of stress and saved a lot of energy. Decisions were made purely on the basis of enjoying spending time with someone. And it worked perfectly. I did end up spontaneously inviting a couple of people for other reasons (the next-door neighbour and a couple who did me a big favour just before the party) but in the end, they didn’t turn up so my party was filled with people I could totally relax with, and no one there was a drain on my energy.

  1. Be clear about the end time.

I was very clear with everyone I invited that the party would be finishing by midnight. I had a funny conversation with one of my friends who joked about how once her and her partner had a couple of beers inside them they wouldn’t want to leave and I’d be throwing them out on the street. I warned her that it could well happen as I really couldn’t stay up late. This couple didn’t turn up in the end (perhaps because a party with an end time didn’t appeal to them) but that was OK. I’d stated my boundaries and those who hadn’t already left, left when I let them know I was tired (which was indeed around midnight).

  1. Pace the prep

I love cooking so I prepared a lot of food (too much as it turned out) in the week before the party. Early in the week I did stuff that I could freeze, mid-week I did some tiding jobs then in the last few days I carefully paced the rest of food prep. In the UK there are all kinds of ways of shopping on line for party food. That can be paced too. I’d love to hear in the comments, if you have any particular recommendations for ready prepared party food.

  1. Focus on what you enjoy

If planning and preparing for a party is not something that you enjoy get someone to do it for you. It’s so important that we use our precious energy on making the now good. If we invest all our energy waiting for the payoff during some future event, then that event has an awful lot to live up to and the reality can often be quite a let-down or anti-climax. Enjoying what you are doing in the moment means the future event is free to be enjoyed just as it is. I was careful to focus on my enjoyment of the food preparation and not just seeing it as something that had to be done in order to have fun on the night. Cooking for people is part of my love language, being aware that what I was doing was an act of love rather than a chore made it much more enjoyable in the now.

  1. Find an easy way to shop

As I live in a small village and can’t get a ‘to the door’ delivery I decided to do a little bit of shopping every day, that way I didn’t have to carry any heavy bags. I also used it as a break in activity, getting me moving after a session at the computer.

  1. Lists, plans and flexibility

I had a plan for what I would do on each day and lots and lots of lists! But I was also very prepared to let things go if things don’t go according to plan. I didn’t stress when I didn’t keep to my timetable because I was perfectly happy about not doing everything on my list. I prioritised the things that I really wanted to do and scheduled the less important things to do last. In the end I achieved most things on the list and wasn’t at all concerned about the 2 or 3 things that I had to let go.

  1. For every hour you spend on party prep loose an hour of something else!

I was really careful to finish work early every day in the week before the party, to save energy for the extra cooking and tidying that I don’t normally do. I’ve made the mistake before of taking on extra stuff and letting go of my self-help practices to fit it in, and I was determined not to make that mistake again. If you were to throw a party what could you let go of in exchange for prep?

  1. Let go of the idea that the house has to be perfectly clean and presentable.

It most certainly isn’t going to be after the party so why should it be before? OK so a couple of my guests pointed out a big cobweb I hadn’t seen up above the space I’d made to dance. But I chose not to care. I was happy that I’d provided a great opportunity for fun and each person there had to take their own responsibility for how their own perceptions impacted on that fun.

  1. Be extra vigilant with your self-care

I knew (from recent experience) that if I let my self-care go I’d end up with far less energy and I wanted to make sure I had energy left for the party. Each day my self-care routine was prioritised above both work and party prep. In the end I know that by doing that I was even more effective at both!

  1. Find ways of dealing with your excitement,

Excitement can raise your stimulation levels as much as stress can. Although it may be accompanied with some pleasurable brain chemistry, when you have problems with an overactive sympathetic nervous system you can’t afford to let even the pleasurable increase your stimulation. I took regular stimulation breaks where I distracted my mind with calming activities. I tried to keep the pleasant sensation with a sense of relaxed anticipation. When I could feel my excitement rising my stimulation levels I accepted it, offered myself compassion for the fact that I couldn’t allow myself to indulge in it and then chose to let it go. I found my daily walks a great way to relax and clear my head. I also used clary sage and lemongrass essential oils in my oil burner.

  1. Trust it will go well

I kept reminding myself that I didn’t need to control it all, that all I needed to do was trust. I chose to let go of the idea of being the hostess with the mostest! Allowing myself not to take responsibility for making sure everybody has a good time. I was providing an opportunity to others to have a good time and nothing more. All I had to do was have a good time myself! I had to work at trust, but knew that it would save me a lot of energy that would otherwise be wasted on worrying about people having fun.

  1. Get Help!

Ok so I’m a super independent kind a gal, but I asked my closest friends to bring a dish and one of them came around earlier to help me rearrange furniture and set up. I also handed over music responsibilities to another friend. Who would you get to help you and what would you get them to do?

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