9 Tips for Planning a William Taft Birthday Bash

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Looking for a way to liven up your Saturday night? Here’s a complete idiot’s guide to throwing a 155th birthday bash for America’s largest-and-in-chargest commander-in-chief: the great William Howard Taft.

1. The Food

Almonds, almonds, and more almonds. Smokehouse, cinnamon, vinegar, chocolate – any flavor under the sun. Big Lub, as he was fondly known, couldn’t get enough of these delectable little nuts. In fact, he was known to consume a pound in a single sitting (in case you were wondering, that’s about 2640 calories). Perhaps all that noshing helped him pack 332 pounds onto his 6’2” frame. But being a big dude had its advantages: Taft was Yale’s intramural heavyweight wrestling champion.

2. The Décor

Taft is the only president to have ever served as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court. He is also the only president to have ever gotten stuck in a bathtub. Guess which distinction people remember more? After this embarrassing incident, Taft had a super-sized tub installed in the White House – one big enough to fit four normal-sized men. If you’re throwing a true-to-form Taft bash, try swapping out your sofas for a few colossal tubs. This type of seating affords a more intimate environment and the opportunity to take a bunch of awkward Facebook photos.

3. The Guest List

Invite everyone you know – as long as they’re not bald. Taft’s wife Nellie was inexplicably creeped out by bald men. She declared that all waiters must have hair and banned all bald-headed butlers from the dining room. At your bash, strive to keep your BQ (baldness quotient) as low as possible. But if Uncle Joe absolutely insists on coming, hand him a toupee at the door.

4. The Dress Code

Make your party a formal affair and require guests to wear dress robes. Taft never felt more comfortable than when he was donning his (very) big, black Chief Justice uniform. Even when he was president, all the man ever wanted was a seat on the Supreme Court. While serving as chief executive, Taft lamented, “If I were now presiding on the Supreme Court, I should be the happiest man alive.” Following four unhappy years in the Oval Office, Taft finally got his wish in 1921, when Warren G. Harding appointed him Chief Justice. He served for over 8 years and was immensely popular among political comrades – more popular than he’d ever been as president.

5. The Drinks

Baileys Irish Cream, White Russians, or plain old vanilla milkshakes. Taft is the last president to have kept a cow on the White House lawn – a fine Holstein by the name of Pauline Wayne. A gift from Wisconsin Senator Walter Stephenson, the beloved Pauline supplied fresh milk for the entire Taft family for two years. After Taft left office, he shipped Pauline back to Stephenson’s farm, where he proclaimed she would “add dignity to his herd.” Follow his lead, and add some dignity to your bash with creamy, dairy-based cocktails.

6. The VIPs

Taft was the last president to sport a mustache. In fact, he was the last president to have any kind of facial hair while in office. Similar to last month’s Benjamin Harrison bash, have a special section reserved for mustachioed guests. These VIPs get all sorts of special treatment – plush bathrobes, free slippers, and dibs on the corner piece of birthday cake.

7. The Entertainment

Nothing livens up a party like an All-American game of baseball. Taft loved the sport. In fact, he was the first president to throw the opening pitch for the first game of the season during a 1910 game between the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics. The presidential tradition continues today.

8. The Music

Taft liked to sleep . . . a lot. In fact, some historians suspect that he may have been narcoleptic. To wake him from his desk whenever he dozed off, Nellie would blast Enrique Caruso – a famous Italian tenor. Make sure your party playlist includes all the Caruso classics: “Vesti la giubba,” “Mi par d’udir ancora,” and “O Sole Mio (remix ft. Ludacris).”

9. The Rules

Before things get too wild, it’s important to lay down the law. No politics permitted. Taft described the 1907 presidential campaign as "one of the most uncomfortable four months of my life." And once in office, Taft declared that he didn’t give a “tinkers damn” about how his decisions would affect his political prospects. Take a cue from Big Bill and put a moratorium on politics for the evening. Trust us – your guests will thank you.

September 15, 2012 - 12:43pm
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