How to Have Fun in the Kitchen

by on May 20, 2010

Friends at the Holidays

For me there is nothing like having company over for the Holidays. Great food, lots of laughs and that feeling of good cheers that is never quite the same any other time of the year.

That party is always the third Saturday in the month of December, phew, that’s one less thing to have to worry about. Next is getting my helpers lined up. It used to be my daughter and one of her friends. I paid them $40 to help me get the house ready and help with the serving, but now that she’s 21 years old I’d probably have to offer her a $100 to help and she’d much rather be a guest now and hang out with all our friends.

Instead I have a dear friend from Los Angeles who comes up and decorates my whole house so that it is transformed and what a transformation. She also brings another dear friend who helps set the table, serve the food and clean up just because they love being with us. I am SOOOOO lucky! So the helpers are lined up.

Table Decorations

Now the heavy lifting, figuratively starts to happen. I make a list of all the people I’d love to have there. A few new friends as well as all the old favorites. It usually winds up being way to many for our home but what the heck! (You only live once!  Right??? That’s a lie I tell you! A flat out, bald-faced, fib! But that’s another story) Then I have to get the guest list approved by Master Tom (Ha, Ha, Ha!) and then it’s time to design the invites, print them up and, in a perfect world, get them in the mail by Thanksgiving weekend.

Time to go through all my Bon Appetit magazines and put together the perfect menu. I believe in keeping it simple but very tasty. Actually I love to dazzle the taste buds. It makes it much more fun. I want people to talk about this party well in to next year and usually they do. I like to have Appetizers, Soup, Salad, Main Course and Dessert. If I have the time I love to have 3 show stopper desserts and let people sample all three. Due to a lack of funds this last year we only had two but they were great!

More Table Decorations a la Pat

Now, people are calling to say they wouldn’t miss it for the world and I’m putting together my shopping list so they are can start preparing a few things a head of time. I also try to make or bake a gist for everyone. As you can imagine my house starts to look like a tornado hit it. But it smells great and feels great, too.

Finally it is the day of the party. We are cleaning and prepping and stressing (Tom almost knows to stay out of my way! Egad!) as we race from room to room putting an the finishing touches. Now the house smells really good. Last years we had an extra 10 guests because we had a surprise wedding at our house it was a blast but we did a buffet as opposed to a sit down dinner and I must admit I kinda liked it better. I may do that again this year.

The guests start arriving, our favorite carols are playing on the stereo and there is a festive atmosphere throughout the house. Everyone ‘Oh’s and Ah’s’ over the beautiful decorations. There are plenty of good drinks for everyone, whether it’s Kir Royale or Lemon Drops and just plain club soda. The appetizers stream out of the over and everybody starts to dig in with relish. In years past I would get everyone seated for the first course around 7 PM and try to get the second course to the by 7:30 so that they were eating the main course by 8 PM. With a buffet that changes quite a bit but still by 7:30 they would probably be eating dinner.

The Mantle

Then people laugh and talk and relax while we clean a load of dishes and brew some Peet’s French Roast coffee. This is truly my moment to shine, whether it’s Poached Pears in Port Wine Sauce with Ginger Ice Cream or Pumpkin Cheesecake or Phyllo purses with Molten Chocolate filling. I pull out all the stops at my party.

Finally I get to relax. I head out to the fire pit in the back yard and enjoy my friends company while my daughter passes out gifts to everyone. That is her favorite part. She comes out to show us her favorite gifts and then runs in to distribute a few more. Some time before midnight the lasts of out guest depart and I put a few more dishes in the dish washer for the second load that night.

I sleep the sleep of the blessed that night knowing that I made every day a little more merry during the holidays.

Hope this sheds a little light on creating the perfect Holiday party!

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