I'm having a birthday party with many guests.  Here's the problem.  I want to invite both Kelly and Zach even though they just broke up and aren't getting along.  To add to the dilemma, Kelly just started dating Geoff and will probably bring him.  Who do I invite?  And what color punch do I serve?
- Lisa T. 

Wow, Lisa, first off, I can't help but notice that my invitation still hasn't arrived, and although it's probably still early, I just wanted to point that out.  Perhaps you could check with your local post office to make sure that mine was properly handled.  And enough postage was affixed.  Just, you know, look into that, maybe. 

Anyway, great question.  Invite lists can be a great way to socially ostracize yourself if you do them incorrectly, and the last thing you want to do is offend the few friends who have yet to penalize you for your abberant behavior when hanging out with their parents.  So it is vital that you do things right the first time. 

I will answer your question in untraditional fashion by tackling the second question first.  The punch - considering the potential fireworks that are likely to happen, the most important thing is not the color of the punch, but the alcohol content of the punch.  Because everyone will likely be awkward at the beginning of the party no matter WHO is invited, you want to make sure that your punch is predominantly Everclear.  This is a great "mixer" because a) it is colorless and b) two or three bottles of the stuff isn't all that expensive and can make your punch have a little extra 'punch'.  See what I just did there?  Clever. 

I can't continue overlooking the obvious; that you are using pseudonyms.  Even the most unintelligent of people can see you're clearly referencing Shawshank Redemption.  I'll play your game "Lisa T."  

If you have two friends that have broken up, of course you will want to invite them both - nobody should be uninvited because of their past.  In fact, what might help allay a potentially difficult situation would be to bring back OTHER exes, as they've had the chance to make amends with those in their past already, and the old exes would be able to help the current ex cope.  So in your invite list, make sure to invite every single ex for whom you can still locate the contact number.

This is only a start, though.  Because the new guy might be coming in, and he might be a successful restaurant owner, you will want to do something to make your friend "Zach" feel at ease.  Hire him a personal hooker.  Maybe a set of twins.  This will make him comfortable, and give he and "Kelly" something light to discuss between their bouts of coma. 

Finally, to really kick the party into high gear, you may want to consider holding it in a neutral place so everyone feels as comfortable as possible.  Immediate places that one might consider are at a bar, a garden, or at a popular craft fair.  These are all right, but if you want the best place to have this kind of party, it would be at the place where "Zach" and "Kelly" first had sex.  That's right, you should hold your party in the lobby of St. Mary Magdalene Hospital (across from the Denny's).   Make sure the punch is orange and painful, make sure the hospital staff don't get in your way too much, and have one big soiree to celebrate your friends' abilities to reconcile.  Believe me, it's foolproof.

If my invitation is delayed much more, I may have to make other arrangements.  I think I have something that day anyway.  So keep me posted about the party and everyone else, ASK ME FOR ADVICE! 

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