When it comes to holiday party prep, I agree completely with chef Danielle Weybright and caterer Tom Morelli: Plan, organize and keep it simple.
This week, I had a chance to practice what they preach when on Monday I threw a soiree at my home. What was intended as a small birthday get-together for a friend who’s leaving town soon quickly expanded to a 10-guest birthday-meets-holiday dinner party on a Monday night.
Add to this if you will, the fact that our main bathroom is undergoing remodeling and we had the recipe for, well, a stressful event.
Luckily, my original menu was easily expanded: a vat of turkey chili (using frozen, post-Thanksgiving turkey) and, for the guest of honor who is vegetarian, broccoli-basil quiche. Realizing that others might want to try the quiche as well, the menu became a vat of chili and two broccoli quiches.
Dessert modified from a small pan of walnut brownies to a lemon sheet cake made from lemon cake mix and lemon jello. No points for presentation, but tasty and plentiful. (Added bonus was I didn’t have to worry about folks with nut allergies.)
As might be expected, Monday was not my first choice day to host a shindig, but as it was the only date available, I reached out for help with the rest of the menu. I called on Jennifer to bring her “world class guacamole,” Ron for some salsa and chips and asked John and Michele for a bottle of “kangaroo brand” (Yellow Tail) sangria.
I did stress out a bit, what with days of pre-party holiday events, making our home “holiday-and-party presentable” and, as I said, the party being on a Monday.
As I was putting the quiches in the oven at 6:30 a.m. Monday, my husband Roger said, “Don’t forget to have fun — it’s a party after all!”
While that may not have been what I wanted to hear at that hour of the day, he was right.
Because I planned as best as I could — precooking the main dishes and enlisting family to decorate the homestead — we were in good shape by 6 that night.
Guests brought their assigned goodies, wood for the fireplace and more. The next day I discovered interesting “extras” in my fridge — unopened guacamole, a container of mashed potatoes and a homemade cherry rhubarb pie.
Another guest even jumped in and did dishes — thanks, Linda — and a good time was had by all.
So relax, party-throwers; it’s just a party.