Fun for the Sake of Fun Wraps Up a Playful July

You sure are pretty, Apollonia-ized friends!

In the pursuit of living like Prince, I knew that I couldn’t end July’s month of play without hosting a gathering. Prince was an inveterate party-thrower who loved to bring people together, whether that was at the open-to-the-public parties he threw at Paisley Park or the celebs-only bashes he’d host at his rented home in Los Angeles. While I thoroughly enjoy getting together with friends over a glass of wine and talking jobs and kids, I wanted to come up with a party idea that was unexpected, a little bit silly and guaranteed to take us all outside our comfort zones. Simply put, I wanted to have fun for the sake of having fun.

When I was reading Meredith Sinclair’s excellent book Well Played, which is chock-full of practical ideas for bringing playfulness into your life, I hit upon the idea of hosting a movie night and showing “Purple Rain,” which had the built-in benefit of not only giving everyone something fun to do together, but would also provide a playful theme. But, I knew I had to take it one step further if I wanted to make the evening something outside the ordinary. To amp up the frivolity, I enlisted the services of a friend who’s also a talented hairstylist and makeup artist to transform any guest who was willing into Apollonia, Prince’s stunning co-star.

As part of stepping out of a comfort zone, I didn’t want to invite a group of people who all knew each other. While I made sure that everyone had at least one connection, I wanted to give my guests the fun of meeting new people and making new connections. Guestlist made, I finished the Evite and hit “send.” To be honest, I was anxious about how the guests I’d invited would respond. Movie night is one thing, but once you’re out of college, an invitation to come over and get your hair and makeup done like an 80s movie star is quite another! Much to my relief, when the rsvp’s came in, eight people responded “yes.” The party was on!

That day, I dusted off my cocktail shaker and whipped up a batch of Purpletinis (blue Curacao + red cranberry juice + sour mix + vodka + 7-Up = purple deliciousness). Then, I popped up a bunch of Orville Redenbacher’s finest and scattered some Milk Duds over the top, a combo that was reportedly Prince’s favorite movie snack. (Consider yourself warned: when they hit the warm popcorn, the Milk Duds get melty and gooey and combined with the salty, crunchy popcorn, and you will be HOOKED!). I scattered purple candles around the room, bought a giant bunch of purple gladiolas and decorated with whimsical Prince artifacts like my Prince Funko Pop dolls.

The eight guests arrived, all flying the purple flag by wearing their purple best. They looked amazing! As it turned out, the date I’d picked for movie night turned out to be the 35th anniversary of the opening night of “Purple Rain,” a happy coincidence that bonded us right off the bat. Once everyone had gathered, I asked each person to introduce herself and tell how she was connected to me, or to Prince. We thoroughly enjoyed hearing everyone’s stories!

A few guests brought playful additions to the party. One offered artist-made, Prince-inspired loungewear which guests could purchase, a second the Prince-inspired bracelets she makes and a third contributed her talents by offering up acupuncture ear seeds and placing them on each guest for whatever ailed us. The seeds were blinged out with crystals and looked cute on everyone’s ears.

We settled in to watch the movie while everyone took turns getting glammed up. My guests were great sports and everyone happily jumped in and got their hair and makeup done. It was great that everybody got into the spirit! Whenever someone’s transformation into fabulous Apollonia circa 1984 was complete, the others would cheer their approval. And naturally, we were enthralled by the real Apollonia’s performance of “Sex Shooter.”

Embed from Getty Images

I’m happy to report that the proverbial good time was had by all. Today, in the warm violet afterglow of last night’s party, I’m reminded that it’s always a good thing to bring people together for laughs, a dash of glam and a Purpletini.

You Have Carte Blanche to Act a Fool in July

Thank goodness for the fools. They lower the bar for us all.

What is play if not carte blanche to act a fool? In July, I’m taking full advantage of my month of play to embrace every possible opportunity for frivolity and foolishness.

Is it any wonder this is shaping up to be our best summer in years?

Here are a few of the ways I’ve played this week:

Went paddleboarding. On Lake Ann. Attempted to wave at Prince’s property across the water without falling off said paddleboard. Mostly succeeded by tipping but not falling in. Verdict: Love! Very soothing to glide along as the sun glints across the water on its way to another glorious summer sunset. Loons were crying in the distance (I did indeed mean “loons” and not “doves”; this is not a typo!). Loons are Minnesota’s state bird so I was feeling very apropos. Thanks to dear friend Stacy for letting me test-drive her new paddleboard. Would do again in a hot minute and tempted to get one of my own. Must figure out how petite me could manage to heft a paddleboard on top of my vehicle. Might require a winter’s worth of weight training.

Threw a welcome gathering for new neighbors. Thrilled to discover that our new neighbors have teenage sons in the same age range as our sons. Because it is my month of play, I sprang into action! As I laid out my world-famous Trader Joe’s cheese tray in preparation for their arrival, I realized it was miraculous, actually, that someone with teenage boys would move in, as most people moving into a suburban neighborhood tend to have small kids. New neighbors hail from London (love) and had hilarious tales of attempting to acclimate to their new lake-y environs by buying a boat and then nearly capsizing and having to be saved by boat police. The mom, as it turns out, is a Prince fan. Verdict: Our boys were happy, having introduced the new neighbor boys to root beer and basketball. I was happy to meet a Prince fan from across the pond. And Andy has someone to drink beer with. Everyone wins.

Played with YouLookFab‘s random outfit generator. Dear friend Angie Cox has the most fabulous fashion blog around, and one of its features is a random outfit generator that works just as you would imagine. It takes items posted by either you, Angie or others who are members on the site and randomly combines them into unexpected outfits. Sometimes they are hilarious; sometimes they aren’t half bad. In my month of play, I’m going to challenge myself to wear one of the outfits it generates. So far, here are the two leading options: First, a winning summertime combination of a long sweater, leather and tweed jacket, white pants, FitFlops, and saddlebag. At least the bottom half is practical for our current 90-degree heat! Second is an avant-garde outfit featuring a leopard-print jacket, fleece slippers and a long flowy skirt topped by a long purple sweater (at least random outfit generator got the purple part right!). Hmmmm. This is gonna be a tough call between two statement-making outfits! Thoughts?

Turns out, there’s science behind playing around — whether that’s wearing “statement-making” outfits or pushing off from shore on a borrowed paddleboard. In her excellently playful book, “Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit” (Wm. Morrow; 2016), author and regular Today Show contributor Meredith Sinclair writes, “Philosophers from Plato to Jean Piaget to Friedrich Schiller have all acknowledged that play is the catalyst for all art, invention, new connections, and innovation. Play ignites our minds in ways only it can.” (I highly recommend following Meredith and buying her excellent book!). She goes on to talk about play guru Dr. Stuart Brown and his book “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.” Meredith shares Dr. Brown’s findings about play in her own words, writing that “the opposite of play is not in fact work, as you might suspect, but rather depression. DEPRESSION, people! In his work, Dr. Brown has found that when denied play for long periods of time, our emotional well-being is “compromised.”

It’s scientifically proven! Playfulness is key to making us happier. I’m going to keep on paddleboarding, making new friends and wearing randomly generated outfits until the cows come home (this is the Midwest, after all). Thank goodness for the fools, I say! They lower the bar, help us get over ourselves and our foolish pride, and let our inner selves come out to play.