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A TV Guide for Social Gatherings

Updated on August 29, 2012

When holidays come our homes often teem with family, friends, and glee. If your house is like mine then television is part of the event more often as audio-visual noise to conversation and only casually viewed. At my house this intersecting of TV-as-noise and for viewing has produced tension in the past.

If the television is on, I feel that what's showing should appeal to everyone's social entertainment and not just one or two persons. Here is my TV guide for social gatherings. You may or may not be the host, but you will be able to give sound advice when you see the TV beginning to win over festivity. Start by asking these four questions.

Learning to Feel the Beat

Is it time for TV? Let's start with a basic theme. Social gatherings always have two correlating elements: rhythm and lifespan. Rhythm is beat—like a heartbeat—and in a gathering this becomes interest, fun, drama, and passion that derive from the group and activities. An occasion will have a short lifespan if rhythm is low. Although people may arrive with anticipation, much weighs on the activities chosen or available. Television is an easy source of entertainment and is usually going without notice. If you're hosting, however, you should understand how TV affects the plans you may have for the gathering.

Every medium produces a certain mood that raises or lowers rhythm. A party that quickly dies was never a party at all. So decide beforehand whether general TV viewing is what you want (and when you want it) or if a movie is the better option. Then, a board game may be more appropriate. And perhaps the television shouldn't be turned on, especially if people wish to relax or sleep.

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Exercise Decision-Making Authority

Is everyone satisfied with the choice? So general TV or a movie it is—what should the selection be? As host you have many possible options for getting this small undertaking accomplished but only two, in my opinion, that won't send this part of your social gathering into a tailspin. So poll the room for consensus or make the decision yourself. Too much option lowers rhythm, so a general formula appears: the larger the crowd the smaller the decision-making authority. You are the TV guide. Don't just hand over your party leader control!

Decide that whatever is viewed will be inclusive of everyone's interest, even though it might be impossible to satisfy everybody. But it's a gathering, after all, a time for sharing; compromise shouldn't be too difficult a thing, among family at least, right? Wrong! We all have those special persons in our clans with the foregone conclusion that everybody-and-grandma is watching football or basketball in succession until games are completely off-air. This is unfair to others—usually the majority—and those ones should find a TV set elsewhere if their event cannot wait. Whatever the selection is, it should be considerate of everyone and appropriately tasteful.

Life of the Party

Is the time festive? The ultimate gathered experience is unquestionably communicative and cheerful. Being together should be fun and when it is—you guessed it!—lifespan increases. During Thanksgiving and Christmas over the past few years my family has enjoyed food, fellowship, and games for two and three days following the holiday itself. How do you keep this level of atmosphere among people who actually want to hear what's on TV when television is the subject?

I am one these persons. I want to hear every word of anything I'm watching. I'm not such a Scrooge though to not understand that sometimes the fun is chitchatting about something seen on TV or in a movie. So the advice here is simple—speak only as necessary. Further, it's important to be quiet not just for hawkish people like me but also because we habitually talk through TV since it only ever serves as background noise to other daily activities and chores. This can be offensive when a program or movie really is the topic. And one last tip: keep the volume high enough for all to hear but low enough for private talk and fun.

Learning When to Transition

Is it time for something different? So the picture is over—what now? How's the rhythm of the party? Is it still high with signs of life or is it waning and people are tired and ready to leave? Maybe the rhythm is low but no one is ready to dash just yet? And just how long should this boat float? You have many things to consider, if you hadn't already. As TV guide you need to decide whether it's time for a new channel or movie. If it is follow the rules already given for the next program, and if it's time to turn off the set, don't hesitate! Your decision here—how you transition from one phase of your party to the next—is crucial. If you miss the beat (pardon the pun) your social gathering could suffer a premature end.


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    • ithabise profile imageAUTHOR

      Michael S 

      8 years ago from Danville, VA

      Thanks Maddie! I can imagine the shock of going from 'barely TV' to 'forever TV'! I like 'more intentional' a lot. I've decided on 'No TV' for now (true) and only use the Internet for viewing. I lived in Japan for a year without television, only reading books, and loved it. It adds so much time to your life and keeps your head clean. Besides, cable prices these days have gone to the moon!

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 

      8 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Great insights! I grew up in a household where TV viewing was extremely limited, and the TV was never "just on." It was quite an adjustment for me when I started dating someone whose parents left the darn thing on practically all the time! Luckily, I've moved on to be with someone who's more intentional about TV time.


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