Michelle Obama's 50th birthday: The First Lady knows how to do parties

She sent out hassle-free party invitations with clear instructions for her guests

Share

Birthday parties get harder as you get older. When I turned 30, I hired a room in a pub, put up some balloons, and received a copy of Logan’s Run as a gift. It is a film in which, lest you forget, everyone is exterminated when they turn 30. It was fun. But I have no idea what I will do when I turn 40, mainly because I am in such profound denial that, when I was asked a security question about my age recently, I was literally incapable of forming the words and had to answer questions about my mother’s maiden name and our early pets instead.

No such trauma awaits Michelle Obama, however, who turns 50 next week and is having a big party. Which, to be fair, I might do if I lived in the White House, and there was someone to do all the drink-pouring and washing-up. But the catering bill will be smaller than you’d guess – because the invitation tells guests that they should eat before they turn up.

American newspapers have been quick to smell potential scandal, reminding everyone that the Obamas have form for dubious parties because of one where they had gatecrashers, while seemingly failing to notice that this is because the Obama parties sound like they might be fun.

I don’t know about the First Family’s guest-list (my own invitation having failed to arrive), but I doubt its members will be too appalled by the lack of food. I can’t quite bring myself to use the American term for such a gathering (Snacks & Sips & Dancing & Dessert, apparently – every one of those ampersands making me feel slightly queasier than the one before, and that’s before I’ve fully processed the word “sip” as a dysphemism for “drink”). But surely this is one of the best socialising ideas anyone has ever had.

There’s no stress for the host, trying to arrange a seating plan in which life-long enemies are kept apart at all costs, and no one has to sit next to that uncle. And no stress for the guests, wondering what time someone will feed them, and what kind of food it will be.

Many years ago, I gave up going to weddings because I hated never knowing at what random point in the day a meal would occur. Also, because I’m vegetarian, I always get put on the table of people with eating issues: the high point occurred at the last wedding I ever went to, when my neighbour explained that she was vegetarian but ate chicken and bacon, a definition which to my mind made her neither vegetarian nor sane. And she was holding a bread knife at the time.

If only Michelle Obama had been running things, I could have had some cheese on toast before I left the house, and I’d have been perfectly happy and not seated with a pig-munching loon. Other instructions the First Lady has offered her guests include the suggestion that they wear comfortable shoes and practise their dance moves. Again, I like the removal of any element of surprise. She could just have easily written: “Hate dancing? Think music is an annoying noise? Then don’t come. Thanks!”

And ordering people to wear comfy shoes is especially brilliant. I have spent years wearing floor-length dresses so you can’t see I am secretly wearing trainers underneath them, even at formal events.

But this came only after many years of trying to cram my giant flippers into girl-shoes, with consequent bleeding and misery. I have two toes on each foot which are entirely covered in scar tissue. If I committed crimes with my feet, they would leave no prints.

 Every time I see a couple arguing in the street on their way home from a party, I always wonder if that row would still have occurred if everyone had been wearing trainers all night instead of agony-hooves. But perhaps it’s just me who finds her joie de vivre dented by blisters the size of the Hindenburg.

Either way, ignoring an instruction from the First Lady is just rude, so there is at least a chance that her party will be the first formal bash this millennium to have no one crying in the toilets and digging around in an unfamiliar and tiny handbag, looking hopelessly for plasters.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A press image from the company  

If men are so obsessed by their genitals, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities of sex?

Chloë Hamilton
Workers clean the area in front of the new Turkish Presidential Palace prior to an official reception for Republic day in Ankara  

Up Ankara, for a tour of great crapital cities

Dom Joly
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory