Princess Edamame\’s Parties

You CAN have a great party – just learn from my mistakes!

Shake That Turkey!

I have been asked by fellow blogger Mrs. Metaphor (see Blogroll) to share tips on shaking up a Thanksgiving feast.

I have thought about this a great deal since receiving this request, and must confess, it’s a stumper.

The thing that came to mind most often was serving non-traditional food – flavoring Tom Turkey with Moroccan spices, for example.  Or serving a meat other than turkey.  If your family is adventurous, I’d say go for it.  Make exotic side dishes.  Skip the ambrosia salad.  But in my personal experience, changing up the food doesn’t always make for a memorable gathering, at least, not necessarily in a good way. 

Every time I thought about sexing up Thanksgiving, I came back to the fundamental part of the holiday – giving thanks.  I’m not sure that this is something that needs sexing up.  I really feel that Thanksgiving is the kick off of a season which features appreciating others at its core. 

 So perhaps the best thing that one can do to “shake it up” is to begin cementing traditions.  Have everyone write on a cut-put paper leaf what they are thankful for, and put them in a bowl.  Everyone can pull one leaf from the bowl, read it aloud, and guess who is thankful for that item.

 Have your traditional turkey carver carve the turkey together with a younger family member.  It’s a great photo op, and a great way to pass the knowledge of turkey carvery.

And perhaps the best tradition I can think to start?  Turn off the Game!  Enjoy the company of your loved ones – even the dysfunctional ones!

November 7, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, entertaining, Family Parties, food, holidays | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Stop Procrastinating and Get to the Good Stuff!

I made a promise to give tips on combating pre-party planning procrastination, so here goes.  I should be planning my annual Christmas party right now.  I should be ordering my printed invitations.  I should already know what I’m going to serve.  I should know how many people I’m inviting.  I should know what this year’s theme is.  I don’t.

 

I’m not sure if my latenik-i-ness stems from experience, or if it’s just because I’m busier than I used to be.  But it must be overcome at all costs.  The best party is a well planned one.

 

The urge to procrastinate planning your party may be because you feel like it will be to big a project.   To that I must say, simplify!  Are you thinking that you must serve a homemade hand-carved prime rib, or it just won’t be Christmas?  How about ordering that roast pre-cooked from a local gourmet shop like Bristol Farms (or whatever is in your area)?

 

Do you feel that you are simply too busy to plan it out?  You may be surprised that it probably won’t take as long as you think it will.  Sit down one evening after everyone else is in bed, and grab a cocktail, your most trusted cookbooks, some sticky notes and a notepad. 

 

First, take a sip and decide on a theme.  Don’t make it too complex:  Italian, retro, whatever.  Just something that can unify your choices.  If you have several cookbooks in a particular style, sit down with those, instead of the one Indian book you have.  Having a lot of choices will be helpful – you won’t feel stuck with anything, and will have a bit more freedom.

 

Second, take a swig, and decide whether you want to serve all appetizers and tapas, or whether you want to serve the components of a proper meal (such as salad, veg, a starch, a meat or vegetarian entrée, and a dessert.  (I never do a sit down meal for a large party.  It just doesn’t work for me.)  I like a mix – meal components, tapas style.  Everything bite size.

 

Next, start flipping through your books and tagging anything that looks good.  Don’t filer it.

 

Now, look again at the tagged items.   

 

  • Remove anything that takes more than a day to prepare. 
  • Remove anything that doesn’t have at least one make ahead component. 
  • If you have marked items that use many of the same ingredients (3 kinds of cheese puffs, for example), choose one, and remove the rest.
  • Remove anything that requires a knife to eat, if you are not having a seated meal, and people will be eating and roaming, cocktail style.

 

You should now have a variety of items that should nicely make up your meal.  I like to make sometimes 10 to 12 items.  I don’t recommend this, unless you thrive on driving yourself nuts.

 

Sending invitations is the one thing you really shouldn’t procrastinate on.  They must be sent at least 3 weeks in advance.  Make inviting everyone easy on yourself.  If you have everyone’s mail address, use a service like Evite.  If you mainly have mailing addresses, don’t make extra work for yourself by gathering everyone’s email address.  Order inexpensive pre-printed invitations online, and mail them out.  Some services will even do the mailings for you for a fee, if you provide a mailing list.  For my parties, I order pre-printed invitations, and have my guest list saved in Microsoft Word in label format.  It’s the best of both worlds.  (I prefer snail mail invitations to Evites for my own parties.  I think it’s great to receive party invitations by mail; it makes it a little more special, in my opinion.)

 

I think that’s it for now.  I’m off to order my Christmas party invitations…

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Christmas, cookbooks, planning, Tips | , , , , | 6 Comments