Man Up!

Why do girls get to have all fun parties? If you’re like me you’ve probably asked yourself this a few times, albeit quietly, when none of your mates were around. Women can build a party over anything – getting engaged, having a baby, making some pretty cakes…even Tupperware can be as good a reason as any. On the other hand us men have birthdays and, well, buck’s nights. For most of us a party means being as loud as possible, as tough as possible and usually as drunk as possible – anything less is, unfortunately, considered soft.

It wasn’t always like this though. Imagine it’s 1955. Think of the words blokes’ night out – what do you see? Perhaps it’s Sean Connery getting splashed by the pool and saying “don’t worry, my martini’s still dry”. Maybe it’s a bloke standing by the fireplace, pouring his friends tumblers of scotch with one hand and lighting cigars with the other. What happened to these sorts of parties? When did being a gracious host who impresses his friends with good food and premium liquor get outmoded by strippers and beer pong?

The good news is that it really isn’t difficult to put together a dignified alternative to the usual booze up, whilst still maintaining that male camaraderie that makes catching up with your mate so fun. The key concept to understand is that the mature, worldly male is a living understatement – a working knowledge of good food and drink, a good sense of humor and a willingness to go the extra mile for your guests are a fare more telling sign of a man’s man than say, downing a keg and then throwing up in your neighbours rosebush. The second, perhaps more important, thing to realize is that it’s ok to be decorative.

It may help to think of it more in terms of presentation – good food is one thing, but food that is fun to simply to look at elevates eating to a different level entirely. Not only does the food itself look more appetizing when it’s skilfully arranged, but it shows your mates that you’re making an effort for them, as well as telling them that you can be master of a kitchen (remember when all chefs were men?).

And if you’re going to present something like food and drink, rather than just handing it out, nothing looks greater than an entire party presented as a whole – and yes, that means doing a bit of decorating. It’s perfectly possible for a party to have a motif, replete with recurring colours and visual themes, and still feel manly and comfortable. Deck your living room out like your grandad’s study, stick a fake moose head on the wall and serve a good, single malt whiskey in small tumblers. Offer up some hearty fare like lamb kofta or even a spicy pumpkin soup, and you’ve got yourself a ‘hunters night in’ – all the components of design and thematic elements that women are so good at using, but geared for you and your mates to have a great ‘blokes night in’.

When you get comfortable with this idea the possibilities are endless – drag some old chairs and a sofa onto the lawn, drink beer out of old – preferably clean – jars and snack on smoked salmon and dill for a fishing trip without the boring bits (fishing). The next time you have a poker night with the boys, invest in a proper card table, a cocktail shaker and some good quality spirits – then tell your friends it’s black tie only and enjoy a night of re-living those James Bond fantasies while sipping vodka martinis.

Even desserts – so often tarred with the ‘that’s for girls’ brush – can easily find themselves at home in any man’s man gatherings (I don’t know a single bloke who doesn’t have a bit of a sweet tooth). Small, rich chocolates served with a plunger of freshly brewed coffee or tastefully decorated cakes or tarts – all the more impressive if you’ve made them yourself – will find many welcoming hands at any modern man’s party.

The point is all those things that made the girls parties seem like so much fun – the décor, the themes, and the little sweet treats – need not be exclusively feminine. Like anything, they can be geared to varying occasions, seasons, venues, and tastes. It doesn’t need to be bombastic – you aren’t designing a Las Vegas wedding – but with an interesting motif and some attention to detail, it’s easy to throw a party that is visually dynamic, intimate, exciting, and above all, manly.

By Jonathon Palmer

 

CREDITS : Milk & Honey (photography), Ra Ra Kitty (props and styling), That Vintage Caravan (caravan), Merci Bouquet (flowers), One Sweet Chick (cookies and cupcakes), Grain & Co (cupcake toppers and drink coasters).

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