Princess Edamame\’s Parties

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

Dining Al Fresco?

Tonight, we have tips about having casual parties outdoors.

Keep your food simple.  In fact, this should be your entertaining mantra.  But it is particularly important if you intend for your guests to be outdoors.  Why, you ask, would it be particularly important?  Logistics:  Do you really want to be in the kitchen cooking while everyone else is outside drinking all your rose and prosecco?

Try grilling (obvious, I know).  Most grilled food can be fully readied in advance, then slapped on the bbq.

Keep beverages in a cooler outside.  Or a cute galvanized bucket with ice.  Again, you don’t want to be running back and forth inside the house to get drinks.  Also, your guests can help themselves as needed.

Don’t forget the tablecloth weights, napkin holder, and some sort of cover for food that’s outside.  Citronella torches and candles are also important, unless you prefer to hire someone to fan the flies from your delicious food.

Of course, a back-up location for bad weather is essential.  Remember that “bad weather” doesn’t  include only rain.  Dining outside in the cold, the wind, or the unshaded hot sun can be just as unpleasant, if drier.

November 10, 2007 Posted by | barbeque, BBQ, entertaining, food, planning | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hostess Gifts – Bring ’em On

If you’re like most people, you may often wonder when it is appropriate to bring a hostess gift when going to someone’s home for a meal or a party.  Here’s my position:  Bring it on.

The host/ess is going to some measure of trouble to have you over, whether it’s a small affair or a large event.  You should in turn show your appreciation for his or her efforts with a small but thoughtful gift.

“But what?” you ask.  This is where it gets fun.

Everyone knows the usual:  a bottle of wine or flowers.  A bottle of vino is always nice, and I always appreciate it.  But please don’t be offended if the host/ess doesn’t open the bottle that evening.  The wine may have already been carefully chosen, and what you brought may not go well with what is being served.  But please know that your gift is appreciated.  A note on flowers:  It is a good idea to bring a small arrangement that does not smell too strongly, and that does not require being put into a vase.  An arrangement that it already in a container is fantastic, because your host/ess is busy enough; don’t make her stop what she’s doing to find a vase, snip the flowers, and arrange them. 

 But how about something more unique?  Here’s a quick list of some favorites that I have either given or received (or would love to receive – hint hint):

A package of novelty cocktail napkins.  I’m of the belief that you can’t have too many cute cocktail napkins.  And as proof, I have over 30 different unopened packages that I can’t wait to get through.

I once hosted an eat-on-the-floor Japanese dinner, and my guests brought a basket containing a variety of Japanese snack food, and a pair of long cooking chopsticks (which came in handy that very night).  It was adorable, well thoght out, and relatively inexpensive.

A low-maintenance house/outdoor plant.  One friend brought a pointsettia to my Christmas party.  We kept it outside after the holidays, and it grew up beautifully.  It was a nice reminder of this guest, and his thoughtfulness, every time I saw it.  He’s invited every year.  My grandmother brought a chrysanthemum (my birth-flower) to one of my parties many years ago, and it is still thriving to this day.  She’s invited every year as well. 😉

Cookbooks!  If you know the type of food being served, you could theme your choice.  A book about a favorite region would be nice as well.  Perhaps you are of a different ethnicity of than your host?  How about a book featuring the cuisine from your native land?

November 3, 2007 Posted by | entertaining, Family Parties, food, hostess gifts, Japanese Dinner, Tips | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Post-Party Stress Disorder

FightingWindmills has sent me the following question in support of my NaBloPoMo effort:

 “Okay–I want to know how to deal with after party laziness and letdown. How, as a host, do you deal with cleanup and avoid over-analyzing your party’s level of suckiness/success?”

 After a party, post-party stress is common, as is total disorder in the house.  From the disastrous dining room to the unkempt kitchen, you are sure to feel overwhelmed.  You just cleaned your house, and now, only a day later, it’s a mess, and you have to do it all again.

First, you probably have one definite advantage over me:  Your party was likely on a Friday or Saturday.  As a musician’s wife, all my parties are on Sundays, which means work the next day.  So the mess will sit a while. Eww.  Now, we have a disastrous dining room, and unkempt kitchen, and putrid party platters.

So here’s what we do:

1.   Share, freeze, refrigerate, dump, or compost your leftover food, if there is any.  I prefer to share, since I am probably tired of looking at the stuff by the time end-of-party rolls around.  Please remember that not all leftovers are salvageable.  Sweaty meats and cheeses are best tossed, as is macaroni salad, potato salad, sour cream dips, etc.

2.  Rinse your serveware to get all chunks off.  This is best done with a glass of wine in one hand.

3.  Hit the hay. Or the couch.  Or the bath.  Or something.  If it’s Friday or Saturday night, you have an entire weekend ahead of you.  You’ve just thrown a fantabulous bash.  You’ve done quite enough for one evening.

4.  Next morning, after breakfast, start washing.  If you’ve got a dishwasher (that your serveware fits into), great.  You’ve got another advantage over me.  If you, like me, live in the world of analog dishwashing, start with the largest items.  The sense of accomplishment you get from clearing off half your counter space by washing only 3-5 items is immeasurable, and will make the rest of the task seem less daunting.  (Note:  Hopefully, you have been able to use at least some disposable serveware.  There are some very nice, inexpensive plastic platters and bowls that caterers use that you can toss post-party.  A store like Smart & Final is a great place to start.)

As to FW’s question about how to avoid over-analyzing the success or failure of your party, that’s a little tougher.  If people leave happy, you’ve done great.  If they come back, you’ve done fantastic.  If no one wants to leave, you’ve done too well, and need to tone it down.  Or start handing out dishtowels and aprons. 🙂

Im my opinion, one entertains for their own pleasure.  You should never entertain to try to impress someone else or please someone else.  That only leaves you with paranoia, wondering whether you did well enough.  So, if you entertain because you want to, and because you enjoy it, and you are happy at the end of the party, you have had a successful party!

November 2, 2007 Posted by | after the party, entertaining, food, Tips | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

NaBloPoMo – Help!

For some reason yet unknown to me, I have decided to take the National Blog Posting Month challenge and post every day during the month of November.  They may be long; they may be short; they may be good; they may be bad.  But they will be here.

 As fodder for my future posts, and as a public service to you, Dear Reader, I am taking inspiration from a friend’s blog (http://mrsmetaphor.wordpress.com) and I invite you to email me, or post here, any questions or dilemmas you may have about parties – throwing, attending, anything!

October 29, 2007 Posted by | entertaining, Tips | , , , , , , | 4 Comments