I love birthdays! I’m not very good at parties, though. I worry about how I’ll keep the conversation going, especially among people who don’t know each other, as was the case at my party/drinks this year. One of my coping strategies is to make sure there’s something for the guests to do when they’ve exhausted topics like the weather and ‘what do you do?’
This year I set my guests a task – to give me the gift of experiences. They were all asked to recommend something for me to do in this next year – a book to read, an exhibition to see, an attraction to visit… I provided cards/tags and pens, and when the conversation lulled – or even when it didn’t, they wrote down the ideas and popped them in my Jar of Experiences.
Here’s what they came up with (in no particular order):
1. Read Mao’s Last Dancer, by Li Cunxin
2. Read Fifty Shades of Grey
3. Cup of tea at Maison Bertram
4. Visit Dennis Severs’ house
5. Go to Paris for the day
6. Read Letters of Note, by Shaun Usher
7. Read Content Strategy for the Web, by Kristina Halvorson
8. TV series ‘Olive Kitteredge’
9. Music: ‘Heavy Weather’, by Billie Marten
10. Drinks at the ME Hotel rooftop bar on the Strand
11. Read The Daughters of Mars, by Thomas Keneally
12. See ‘Slava’s Snowshow’
13. Read Sovereign, by CJ Sansom
14. and Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
15. Discuss We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Children Act with Helen!
16. Read You Talkin’ to Me?, by Sam Leith
17. Art Exhibition: Caterina Silva at Bosse and Baum.
18. With Virginia:
• Visit Winter Wonderland (Hyde Park)
• See ‘The Wind in the Willows’ on stage
• Go to the Science Museum Lates
• Pig out at Pizza Hut
• Take a boat trip along the Thames
19. Read: The Fever Tree, by Jennifer McVeigh
20. Read: The Painted Veil, by W Somerset Maugham
21. See improv show ‘Wunderkammer’
22. (After dark) see light/fountain installation in Granary Square, King’s Cross
23. Visit John Soane museum
24. Eat/drink at The Mayor of Scaredycat Town
25. Read White Noise by Don DeLillo
26. Enter one of the following:
• Bake Off
• The Voice
27. Visit your favourite South Croydon-ite (Jaz Potter)
28. Read ‘WTP’ (in joke! Can you guess what it is? One of the BBC Good Reads top 100 books)
29. Become a spy
30. Drink at Gordon’s Wine Bar
31. Climb the Burj Khalifa and visit the penguins in the snowdome with Becky!
32. Watch the Ceremony of the Garter at Windsor Castle (may require moving to Windsor)
33. Cycle round Virginia Water
34. Try swing dancing
35. Become a criminal
36. Three mini adventures in different parts of London (Canary Wharf, East Finchley and Waterloo-Clapham)
37. Go ice skating at the Tower of London
38. Christmas Eve carols under the dome at St Paul’s
39. Get a Dalmatian
40. And go to newday
Amazingly, only four of them are things I’ve done before (apart from some of Virginia’s suggestions – they’re our favourite things to do together).
Some I certainly won’t be doing this year (or, I hope, ever) – reading 50 Shades of Grey, becoming a criminal or getting a dalmatian, for a start! Some I may or may not do (go to newday, become a spy, apply for one of those TV shows), and some I may not have time to do within the year, but there are loads of things I’m really looking forward to trying out.
It’s not too late to join in, if you’ve got any suggestions – just leave a note in the comments.
And if someone reminds me, I’ll give you an update around about this time next year of how I got on!
Thank you so much to everyone who made suggestions – it worked out better than I’d expected – and of course, sparked lots more conversations, too. Party: success!