At my house, the holidays have officially arrived. The tree has been trimmed, the halls have been decked and our annual holiday party has come and gone.
Now, I love to throw a party. I love planning the menu and decorating the table. I love envisioning my friends laughing with their heads thrown back as they sip on a glass of wine and nibble on whatever tasty treat I’ve put out that night. But I do face a familiar party-planning dilemma every party I throw–how much food do I really need to make? And since I always make too much food, what I really mean by this is, how do I avoid being inundated with leftovers for the rest of the month?
This is a delicate balance. And over the years of leftover peanut butter balls and giant chunks of brie, I have learned that at my house, leftovers mean the party lasts for a week instead of one night. And that’s an ugly party that I did not want to attend this year.
So, I kicked into planning mode a little earlier this year. The extra week between Thanksgiving and our holiday party (we like to kick off the season) was a Godsend! Part of what I’ve learned creates leftovers is preparing food that no one wants. There are several staples that our holiday party offers every year, namely the bacon wrapped water chestnuts and the salami pickles, that I know people want. And for some reason people lose their minds over a pig in a blanket, because those don’t last 20 minutes on a platter. But I wanted to expand my repertoire this year so as to avoid being stuck with the giant chunk of brie with knife holes in it and the bowl-full of crusted over hummus. So I googled “appetizers from the 50’s & 60’s” and spent some time wandering into the land of canapés and cheese logs. I bookmarked everything and sorted it out into a Word document complete with hyperlinks and grocery list items. I narrowed it down based on ingredients and dietary concerns of potential guests and I lined up some party-prep volunteers. I made a plan for the day of, the day before and the day before that. I was ready to be the hostess with the mostess.
And of course, like a good little Weight Watcher, I made a Personal Party Plan in order to stay in control and not release my inner fatty:
1) Eat that publicly promised snack before guests arrive.
2) Make a plate and count those points–no chatting near the table whilst picking at toothpicks stuck into food this year. If it’s not on a plate first, I don’t eat it.
3) Alternate with a glass of water between every glass of wine.
4) Talk to everyone at the party. How many times have I heard “Thanks for hosting, I’m sorry I didn’t get to talk to you more.” Not this year, bitches.
5) Give away or throw away the nasty leftovers. Anything gooey must go.
So how’d that go?
Please pause for uproarious laughter having just re-read my “Personal Party Plan.” Whew! That is just hilarious!
Sorry, I’m back. Boy was I way off about how this party would go! I mean I didn’t do ANY of those things. Not. A. One.
What I did do is skip all meals that day until my fabulous volunteer sous-chefs brought sushi with them and at some point I stuffed 3 pieces of goopy sushi into my mouth in between rolling cocktail wieners into crescent rolls. Make a plate? I didn’t even put plates out this year. Everything is bite-sized, have a napkin. Alternate a glass of water in between every glass of punch? Please pause for more uproarious laughter. Talk to everyone at the party? The only time I spent out of the kitchen is when our sprinklers accidentally turned on and no one could make them stop. So if you didn’t come to chat me up in the kitchen or I didn’t need you to hold a flashlight while I crouched in the dirt in my party dress by the sprinkler valves, then no, I probably didn’t talk to you. Sorry bitches.
And lastly, all I ate the day after our party was cookies. And a tube of crescent rolls. It was a dark Monday.
But here’s the thing: it’s all gonna be ok. Yeah, maybe I didn’t do a good job of handling the cookies left in my house. But I threw them out the next day. And maybe I didn’t get to talk to everyone at the party, but I did have a great with the people I did talk to. And because I spent so much time in the kitchen prepping food, even though I didn’t alternate water with wine, I didn’t blow it all on the punch. In retrospect, even though I didn’t follow my Party Plan at all, I still managed to keep myself in line.
Another plus? All that crazy party planning did pay off, because there were no leftovers to speak of. No sad little water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and speared with a toothpick for me to pick at as I cleaned up. No salami pickles, no pigs in a blanket. None of the new hor’deurves I tried out this year—the brie and cranberry croque-monsieurs were devoured, the parmesan-olive bites annihilated. Nothing but some store-bought sugar cookies and a tube of crescent rolls. And now, even those are gone.
So I’m taking a win on our Holiday Party this year. It didn’t go exactly as I had planned in many ways, but because I bothered setting a plan in the first place, when I had to deviate, it wasn’t as ugly as it might have been if I hadn’t make a plan in the first place.
Perhaps that lesson might apply to other times of the year. Hmmm…maybe. But certainly with less cookies.