Husbands Helping at the Holidays, A Primer for Sanity


Brian green eggSo a couple weeks ago we hosted 36 people for Thanksgiving dinner. It was quite a feat, kept me occupied for two weeks prior getting everything ready, and made me laugh and curse and laugh at how my husband “helps”. He really means well. It’s just that I don’t think he has a true party gene. It’s like when Jennifer Aniston said Brad Pitt was missing a sensitivity chip. My husband is missing the party part of his brain.

As I was talking about this on Thanksgiving, many of my fellow sisters and mothers and cohorts on this planet could commiserate. Their husbands were also missing something in their brain – what else could lead them to think that reorganizing the toolshed was a helpful part of the party process? The first question is – do they really think that something like cleaning out the garage should be done for a party? Or is it just something to do in order to avoid actual important work instead?

I would like to put forth that these husband (party pooper) actions are not ill-intentioned. They truly believe they are doing good things for the overall party needs. If they were just trying to avoid work, they wouldn’t pick another chore – they’d watch football on the couch, they’d escape the house and go to the bar, they’d run an errand and not return for hours. These “Helpful” Husband Chores can be very upsetting and confusing to the wives who are busy balancing every other item on the to-do list. Here, I have compiled a helpful list of what the husbands* are likely to want to do based on personality. I’m not sure if it’s fixable, but it’s at least explainable. And laughable. Lordy we need to laugh.

The Outdoors Man: Mostly The Outdoors Man likes to show off the outside of their house. The inside of the house could be falling apart, paint peeling, ghostly specters floating through the hallways, carpets literally on fire, but as long as there is a beautifully manicured lawn, not a single stray leaf leaving an imprint upon his grass, and proper levels of mulch for the flower beds, then all is right in the world. The day of the party he is going to be in his disgusting “I can’t believe you are wearing that even to do yard work” clothes, moving stuff around outside, leaf blowing until he runs out of gas, sweating and getting dirt all over himself. He’ll dash into the shower after the first guest arrives. Do not expect them to focus on the inside of your house or the food at all the day of the event. They will wonder what they are eating alongside your other guests, as menu is furthest from his mind. Unless you ask them to cook meat outside, in which case you will have that part taken care of, on either a giant propane grill or a Big Green Egg. Grills need someone to stare at them for long periods of time, especially at Big Green Egg temperature gauges. Beer must be drunk next to them in order for them to work properly. You don’t have a prayer. He won’t even notice if you lock the door while he’s outside.

The Techie / DJ Man: You might think that having enough chairs and tables is important. But what the Techie / DJ realizes that people don’t want to just sit. They want to dance. Or groove, or sing along to really fabulous songs. And those fabulous songs will transport them to a life of revelry, of nostalgia, of days gone by. And that will make for the Most. Awesome. Party. Ever. Some techies are content to put on a Pandora Station (or other cool kid music provider) and be done. Elite techie /DJ s will put on the same station and then listen to it for eight hours, thumbing up and thumbing down like the Emperor to make sure it’s exactly musically “right”. Supremely anal retentive techie / DJs will create a playlist that begins with smooth dulcet tones, then graduates to more robust horns and vocals, and ends with the Beastie Boys exactly at midnight. Nothing good ever happens after midnight. Techie / DJs need to make sure that the subwoofer is working perfectly for the most reverberating sound allowed in the universe.   In the olden days my husband once rewired the speakers with better speaker wire. Yes, the speakers were working fine, but they could be better. Now I am grateful for wireless speakers. And we only need to occasionally “reboot the system”.

The Neat Freak Man – The thing that can be confusing about the Neat Freak is that he is not a Neat Freak the other non-party days of the year. It’s only on a party day that he all of a sudden decides he needs to organize his office. Even if the party is not going to be in his office, and you could easily close the door to his office, he decides that in case someone accidentally thinks it is the bathroom, opens the door, realizes they are in the wrong place as they see it is an office and closes the door, those papers better be filed. And the taxes finally put into folders by year. And the old magazines recycled. Maybe just this one read during the process. While we women triage and take everything else that is in the wrong place in the entire house, dump it in a laundry basket, or six, and then cram them into closets, The Neat Freak is separating plastic from metal paperclips. Because that is the foundation of a good party.

The Beer Man: The Beer Man is going to think about only one thing. Beer. They are going to wash out the coolers that will store the beer. For a very long time. Because they know that the other Beer Man guests are going to be hanging out by that cooler all day, staring at it, thinking about their next beer, and they want that cooler to shine. They will also make sure there is a glacial amount of ice in that cooler. They probably have a friend or a place where they can “get ice” that does not include them paying for ice. That place might be three minutes away, but they will leave the house for 90 minutes to get ice. This is the one thing at the party that their men friends are going to look at, they will spend all day perfecting these coolers. They must look good. Party worthy. Beer Man Worthy.

The “I Need To….” Man: When I was in college I used to have a funky quirky kind of habit, – whenever it came time for final exams or final papers I needed to move my furniture around in my dorm room. At first I thought part of it was that I needed a way to procrastinate. But it wasn’t that. I truly needed to move things around, to have a different vantage point on the world, before I could take on something new. This is where the “I Need To” Man comes from. They know there is a party list. But before they can tackle anything else on that list, they need to get some things done that have been bugging them. Like when my hubby needed to go to Home Depot to return light bulbs. Return. Light Bulbs. Not buy them. Not replace the dead ones in the house. Return the ones we bought and didn’t need. Because that would be a crises, if we were still in possession of those light bulbs when guests arrived at our home.   Because that is what they would notice first. Not whether there was room in the coat closet, or open wine, or something to munch on before dinner. Excess Light Bulb Chaos.

It’s not mean on purpose. It’s mean accidentally. But in their heads, the husbands are helping and helping mightily. Because they thought of something YOU forgot. So when the sisters and moms and cohorts say “What can I bring” and “How can I help?” answer them. Give them something to cook. Have them open wine. And most of all, ask for sanity checks. Because we sister wives are all in this together. The husbands, well, they have their own To Do List, and making us crazy is just the byproduct.

Happy Holidaze. Party On.


* Husbands may be real or imagined. They may be mine or they may be the husbands of my sisters-in-law, sister, mother, mother-in-law, sister’s mother-in-law, or friends. They may be. Or may be not be. This legal disclaimer was requested by my husband. Or maybe not.


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