Email me if you have something to say. I like you.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Having People In Is the New Going Out (Alternate Title: Parties Are the New Bars)

My beloved town is a little bit behind the times (I can say that, by the way, but if you don't live here, you better shut up!) We just can't seem to get rid of smoking in bars, as many other cities have. Now that I'm not a smoker*, I find the idea of hanging out in a smoke-filled bar less and less appealing. And I'm getting old, so I don't like being in places where the music's so loud I can't hear. And I don't like waiting for a table. Or parking. Or paying a babysitter. And I like to pick and choose who I see.

Nobody has parties anymore. Well, that's not strictly true. There are a few, like my friend C., who recently threw a Pajama Party. Initially, I balked at the idea of wearing pajamas out of my own house, but that was before I understood that C. doesn't go halfway when she says party. The party was in the evening, but she had a full-on brunch, including an omelet bar (with a couple of chefs!), lox and bagels, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and little bowls of cereal instead of nuts. She even had little bowls of sample sized toothpaste and mouthwash. In addition to Mimosas, she served everything else you might possibly want. The very least I could do was throw a bathrobe over my clothes, which being the gracious hostess she is, C. suggested. We had a blast.

As spectacular as that party was (and I'm afraid I haven't done it justice!), a party's a party. Those of us who don't have C's skills shouldn't be shy about having people in. Have you ever been invited somewhere, only to arrive and wonder why the host hadn't cleaned up enough or provided enough entertainment? Oh, no, you haven't. If you answered yes to that question, you don't need better hosts, you need to be less horrible.

I think every family should have "their" party. We have two. One of them is Christmas Eve my husband's birthday. We have our families over for takeout Chinese food and a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by my dad**. My family is huge, so we used to only have the ones who were in from out of town, but more of them keep sneaking in. Now I just require them to bring a present or at least a card for poor A, the Christmas Eve baby (who wasn't Jesus).

We also have a party Friday night after Thanksgiving (Mwah! to everyone who came this year!) It's always different. Some years it's more elaborate than others, but we've had it enough times that it's "our" party and we really look forward to it. The food isn't perfect, because I make it the day of the party. The drinks are self-serve or, like this year, served by a volunteer bartender. I love guests like that; they're party mayonnaise. The company is random and fun and I always serve Whoppers.

And I love tiny parties, like the one we had by accident last Saturday. We didn't have a babysitter, but two other couples we know did. So we guilted graciously invited them to come over to entertain us after they went out to dinner. We served smoked almonds and wine leftover from our post-Thanksgiving party. It's good to have random appetizers on hand for impromptu parties. Here are some of my current favorites:

  • Interesting nuts***.
  • Carrot Jam from Cloud Nine Market with cream cheese and ginger snaps or crackers.
  • Cheese. Everyone loves cheese.
  • Extra points if the cheese is Manchego and you serve it with cotognata.
  • Pesto and crackers. I recently made a huge batch of pesto with late summer basil and froze it in ice cube trays. Easy to thaw and serve.
  • Frozen spanakopita. Cook it, of course.
  • Olives from the Fancy Mart.
  • Little chocolate thingies.
If you have a little advance notice and you feel like it, you can make these. I had them several years ago at a party in Charleston that my uncle threw to celebrate my cousin's wedding. They are yummy and easy and always get eaten.

Smoked Salmon Endive Appetizers

Get a bunch of Belgian endive, cut the bases off and make a bunch of little boats out of the leaves.

In a mini food processor, mix a handful of chives and equal parts mayonnaise and cream cheese, until they're totally blended.

Put the mix into a zip-loc bag and cut one corner off, so you can squeeze little dollops into the endive boats.

Now put a piece of smoked salmon on top of each one. Yum.

Anyhow, the recipe isn't the point. The point is that you need to have people over. They want to come over. Bars are so five minutes ago. Parties are now, now, now. You don't have to have a theme, but I promise to participate if you do.

And, guess what! You don't even have to give up the best beer in the world to have people in. The best brew pub ever, the Hunter Gatherer, now sells growlers, half-gallon jugs of their beer that you can take home and serve at parties. Yay!

Namasté, y'all!

* Note to my kids, if they ever read this. I was never a smoker, nooooooooo, not me! I just said that for effect! Uh-huh!

** My mom hates that part, but everyone else loves it. He tells it really loud and uses props. And when he says Santa turned with a jerk, he always points to the newest male by marriage in our family, which embarrasses them. And he pretends to vomit when he says, "I threw up the sash..." And he throws torn toilet paper for snow. Ha!

*** That's what she said.

No comments: