How to Organize a Mother's Day Party

Wear a lungi wrapped artfully around your waist, and an undershirt with frayed sleeves to make phone calls to all the men in the community. If this doesn’t take at least one whole day, you’ve left someone off the list.

Round up fathers, single men, and children over the age of 15. Even if they’re not husbands or fathers, they can still contribute; they have all had mothers. 

They will come to your house the Saturday evening prior to Mother’s Day to prepare and cook the food. Time your preparations so they coincide with the FA Cup final. Cooking is always improved by soccer.

Plan the menu in advance. It doesn’t much matter which curries you cook, but chilli must be used liberally. This is how you maintain your golden rule of cooking; the hotter the curries, the sweeter the dessert. You will organise the dishes efficiently but without much passion; it’s hard to get excited about vegetarian food. 

Your passion is reserved for dessert. You will make sharkara payasam. This sickly sweet umber ambrosia is your speciality, and you’re famed throughout the community for the way you combine the ghee, rice, jaggery, and coconut in perfect proportions. 

The author's father serving  sharkara payasam  at one of the many parties he loved

The author's father serving sharkara payasam at one of the many parties he loved

Your helpers will be an unruly bunch, heckling soccer teams into wins or losses, but you know they will follow your instructions. Revel in their rambunctiousness.

There will be time to remind them, once more, that all the mothers and mother-substitutes are not to lift a finger on their special day.

- Asha Rajan

Making a Party Playlist

It can't be one of your favorites. You'll just get mad when they talk over the music. 

Put the records in order at the front of your rack. If someone wants to feel useful by queuing up the next one, let him. When he flips through the back sections, reach in and pull one out. Have you heard this? The trumpet player's the same as here. Waggle a finger at the turntable. Smile. Offer to accompany the helper to find a refreshment.  

The B sides will be slower. That's good. Let a particularly slow B side lead into another B side, not an A. Make sure nobody's yawning or sighing. 

Prop up the jacket; lean it against the turntable's lid, and watch for when people linger to read it. Sometimes, when someone needs a pal, the record player's their parking spot. 

"A good record collection was his pride and joy: insured, he confided, for more than his modest home."

"A good record collection was his pride and joy: insured, he confided, for more than his modest home."

A familiar song or three spread out over the evening is nice. It gets them talking: I didn't know they did this one, too! Is this the same group? But any more and it's a singalong. That kills the conversation. The music is not a guest. 

When it's time to put out the coffee, the music will tell you so. Send people off feeling warm, but don't let the record make invitations for you. 

- Stefanie Le Jeunesse