1. Set the party date for a couple months out, hope for good weather, and tell everybody.
2. Freak out, sit down with your husband, and together process all the reasons for freaking out, of which there are a discouraging many.
3. Make lists.
4. Stress, worry, giggle hysterically.
5. Make more lists, show them to your husband, and get your panties in a twist when he shrugs the list/you off.
6. Let your husband know, in no uncertain terms, that making light of your stress does not help reduce it.
7. Every few days make a new Panic List and show it to your husband. Have no shame—if things don’t get checked off quickly enough, resort to hysterics.
8. If things get really bad, throw down your dish rag and threaten to leave.
9. Decide to attend a five-hour belly dance workshop in a distant city on the day before the party and agree to dance at a swanky restaurant (in the same distant city) that night at 10 o’clock even though you know full well it means you won’t get home till 1:30 in the morning and you’ll have to get up three hours later to start making the dough.
10. Feel sheepish (and ever so slightly guilty) and bust your butt doing lots of work.
11. On second thought, decide that hundreds of donuts on three hours of sleep might not be such a good idea and back out of the swanky restaurant part of the deal but hold steadfast in your workshop plans ’cause belly dance is awesome.
12. Stress some more.
13. Combat the stress by making more lists.
14. A couple weeks pre-party, snag a newlywed couple after church and cordially invite them to come help the afternoon of the party. When they say yes, bask in several blessed hours of stress-free relief.
15. Buy mums, pot them, and set them on the front porch away from the main thoroughfare so your children won’t de-flower (not in the Shakespearean sense) them.
16. Wash windows, dust, wash more windows, dust more dust.
17. Watch happily while your husband cuts down ratty trees, puts the garden to sleep, spruces up the chicken coop, mows, weed wacks, pressure washes the porch, etc.
18. Watch not-so happily as your husband decides that it’s time to build a woodshed, but don’t say anything as you know he’ll just cock an eyebrow and say mildly, And, um, the belly dance workshop?
19. Buy 50 pounds of bread flour, 24 pounds of confectioner’s sugar, 3 gallons of oil, ½ gallon of half-and-half, and a bushel of empire apples.
20. Accept a church friend’s offer to provide the apple cider—he will press it the day before—and do a Little Happy Jig because fresh-pressed cider rocks.