Tonight was Brownie night, at the great age of (censored) I am a Leader In Training at a local Brownie group. Months ago at a planning session I stupidly suggested we get the girls to put on a little event for their parents to earn their hostess badge, the girls loved the idea of a summer cocktail party and were well up for it. This meant that the first meeting I led on was preparation for the party, where my last minute googling unearthed the WORST paper flower design ever (which coupled with my crack-handedness meant the girls attempts at paper flowers were doomed).
The first meeting was bad. I got caught up in handing out scissors and pens instead of stepping back and running things. My second ever meeting to lead had no real pressure; just ALL of the parents coming in and judging my organisational skills, how I interacted with their daughters and my own need to put the cock-up behind me. Nice…
Having learned that I need to have things planned much better and I need a fall back communication strategy for the other leaders and helpers in case there isn’t a magical five-ten minutes to explain things to every adult I wrote out a step by step plan and made copies. I had bought all the supplies and loaded the car in advance so this was all gong to go smoothly.
The only problem at the start was a slight niggle on one side of my back. I’m used to neck and shoulder problems but have a good relationship with my lower back until today. A slight twinge on the left started to feel painful as I headed off in the car.
I got in and laden down with the first load of bottles and jugs opened up. Three trips to the car later I had everything and half the girls had arrived, previously I’d tried to do too much so mindful of my increasingly sore back and the need to give them more responsibility I got the girls setting up tables and taking ingredients to each table along with the instructions. We then practiced the songs (with my swaying in My Auntie Monica becoming more restrained with each verse) until all the girls had arrived. We dispensed with the usual greetings and sent the girls in their sixes to their corner to lay the table and start making drinks straight away.
The written instructions were invaluable – every adult knew the ratios for the two drinks (Tornado Twister and Brownie Sunrise) and I gave the instructions to the sixer on my table to let her lead the prep work. With a few gentle reminders to let everyone have a turn at pouring and stirring it worked well, one set of Tornado Twister was made in the jug and while the girls washed the jug I went around with lemon slices for each table – note to self there are around 30 slice in a pot, not quite enough.
The girls started preparing the jug of virgin sunrise (orange and lemonade to have grenadine added in the glass) when the parents arrived. I looked around, every table was at a different stage and one table had bizarrely added the grenadine to the jug and stirred it in – note to self don’t assume young leaders can stop determined brownies from doing their own thing. We asked the girls to greet their guests and bring them to their table and then carry on making drinks. I tried to quickly open the Costco crisps and failed, every leader in the room failed and eventually I fluttered my eyelashes shamelessly at a Dad.
I then tried to remind the girls that the bowls of crisps were for their guests and that a hostess had to look after her guests instead of herself. There were problems, there was one bottle of grenadine to pass around and there was a bit of a queue for it (next time, get in earlier and decant into little bottles or dispense with the evil pink sticky stuff) and one six spilled their flower vase, but overall it was OK. When the girls had finished serving their guests they were told to sit in the middle and one of the other leaders kindly led the girls in singing their three songs and doing the dances for the parents. The older girls had been reluctant to join in with the songs (I’ll admit I felt a little daft singing about a swaying muff) so in future perhaps I should put the older ones into a group to choose a song they are willing to sing.
The girls were then sent back to their sixes to be nice to their guests and drink any unfinished drinks and hoover up the remaining crisps, they all helped tidy up before leaving with their parents while we did a final scrub (oh my poor back).
Brownies had selected the drinks;
Extra lemonade and OJ on top of my calculations for extra drinks / people not wanting the mocktails;
Girls learned about putting guests needs first;
Letting sixer lead and ensure everyone had a turn.
Divide garnishes in advance (maybe at home);
Get young leaders’ email addresses and share detailed plan ahead of meeting;
Tell all leaders just to half fill the glasses not fill them to the brim!
Engage older girls by letting them choose songs.