10 December 2009

the absentee hostess

I don't consider myself a party-throwing expert by any means, and am still very much evolving. That said, I have definitely learned a thing or two over the years, and our last party was a long way from my first cocktail party out of college, which involved sitting everyone in a rag-tag collection of chairs in a big circle in the living room, and feeding them bland vegetarian fare. I practically had to move to LA just to find unsuspecting new people who would be willing to come to a party I was throwing.

Despite all I have learned, though, our holiday party this weekend will be a good test of my and Mark's party-throwing abilities, since it has involved virtually no planning, and out of schedule necessities will get virtually zero prep time. With the Vegas trip, followed by Mark jetting off to Denver and Seattle for focus groups, and me jetting to DC for year-end reviews, it has been busy enough without trying to plan out a party menu. It's kind of a miracle we even got the invites out a few weeks ago.

But I got a little time in between work tasks today to lay out the menu, and here's how the rest will go down: I get home at 1 a.m. Friday night/Saturday morning, rush to bed, get up to teach 8 a.m. spinning on Saturday, and then dash to the store, dash home and start furiously prepping and cleaning for a 4 p.m. start time. I'm wondering now if it would have been smarter to start the party in the 7/8 p.m. range, but I do really like the 4 p.m. party. Lets people have dinner after and make other evening plans, and keeps our neighbors from revolting.

Here is the menu we have quickly agreed upon, with the priorities being on minimal prep, relatively low expense, and enough options for gluten-free and vegetarian eaters. Bonus: anything that looks colorful and festive. It contains far more purchased food than we would usually prefer, and far less homemade, but parties are about the people, not the food, right?

  • Mark's world-famous Christmas punch
  • Candy cane cocktail (strawberry vodka, white crème de menthe and cranberry, possibly with a mini candy cane in it)
  • Whatever other beer, wine and liquor we have in the house (embarrassingly, this is not an insubstantial amount)
Non-cooked items:
  • Peppered salami and hothouse cucumber slices
  • Cheese and fruit plate (three cheeses including the recently purchased Constant Bliss, almonds, honey, pears, grapes, crackers, etc. -- maybe also some Serrano ham, since it is sublime, if Bristol Farms has it for a reasonable price) 
  • Mixed nuts
Cooked items:
  • Parmesan-coated sweet potato wedges
  • Tomato-ricotta tartlets, made from puff pastry
Sweet things: (already purchased from the World Market on the corner)
  • Marzipan (chocolate-covered and fruit-shaped)
  • Assorted German gingerbread cookies
  • Peppermint bark
  • Moose munch (going for half price at Marshall's -- crazy!)

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