Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Party Tips!

Here are some party tips that I have learned or figured out over the years through trial and error!

Follow these tips and you will be sure to be invited to my next gathering!*

Evite.com is a great way to send out your invitations and keep track of who is coming. You can easily personalize the invite as well as send out reminders for those fun people that fail to RSVP like they should! Hint hint hint people!

• Most of the time you can’t invite everyone, but make sure you try and have a good mix of family and friends. Or just have one party for family and one party for friends! Maybe that exconvict friend should not be invited to the party with the mother-in-law. Also, keep the alcoholics away from the Amish. Dangerous mix!

• Have good lighting outside if your party is in the evening. No one needs to make a wrong turn into the prickly holly bush by the front door. The neighborhood cat that Uncle Harry bends down to pet may be that rabid raccoon on the loose. Gee, that would be a holiday bummer.

• If there is snow, shovel your walk or provide those Eskimo snow shoes which have been hanging on the family room wall for the last decade.

• Expect guests to almost never come on time. You may though, have someone always show up early. I recommend putting a cocktail in their hand and lead them into the living room while you finish preparing. If they insist on helping, give them some easy fun task like chopping up onions or taking out the garbage.

• On that note, don’t forget to take out that garbage! Guests don’t need to be smelling the leftover Tandoori Chicken at the bottom of the can!

• Move your cars to a neighbor’s driveway to make room for your guest's cars. Just make sure to invite that neighbor!

• Put pets away so Fido or Fluffy doesn’t get underfoot, outside, or attack Aunt Clara’s ankle thinking it is a chew-toy.

• Be a good host and take coats, hats, scarves, and purses (if the ladies will give them up). If you must create a ‘coat mountain’ on the bed in the guest room, try and at least make it neat and manageable. The last thing you want to do is accidentally give your Aunt Mary’s fur to the kleptomaniac neighbor you were guilted into inviting.

• Keep a running list of host gifts and who gave them to you as guests arrive. It only takes seconds to scribble down “Horrible fruit cake, Aunt Clara”. You will thank yourself later as you write those thank you notes!

• Host gifts are a nice surprise, especially the alcoholic variety, but don’t expect it. Do not make guests feel guilty when they arrive empty handed … “What, you couldn’t even afford a 1/5 of Jack Daniels?”

• Serve an easy signature cocktail or two, favorite wine, or beer. For my Christmas Eve cocktail party, I served pomegranate cosmopolitans, bourbon cider, Sam Adams Winter Ale, and Anchor Steam Christmas Ale. For a summer BBQ, you might try sweet tea vodka and lemonade or a sangria. For a Halloween party, how about a caramel apple martini?

• Have a good selection of non alcoholic beverages such as juices, flavored seltzers, bottled waters, sodas, tea, and coffee. Redbull energy drink is not an acceptable beverage for your neighbor’s 4 year old kid or for that matter, your 98 year old grandfather!

• For the holidays, I prefer to pick up a flavored coffees such as gingerbread, pumpkin spice, or candy cane mint. If you have more time, try mixing up some virgin mocktails. And yes, 'virgin' means ‘no alcohol’!

• Try an easy new hors d'oeuvre out of a favorite food magazine or website. Some only have 2 or 3 ingredients. Have staples of crackers and cheese or crudite' and dip, but then be adventurous and try something new! Just make sure you try it before hand so you’re not stuck fumbling about with a new recipe an hour before guests arrive.

• Don’t make too large of a menu or you will overwhelm yourself. Instead, have backups that can be put out at a moments notice if you find yourself running short. I keep frozen meatballs, various cheese and hard salamis, chips and dip, bruschetta and mini-toasts all on hand, just in case I need them when unexpected guests drop by. Canned cat food does not make for a good spread.

• Have a good mix of appetizers, entrees, and desserts like two or three selections. And don’t forget to include a vegetarian alternative! You should always do at the very least, a crudite’ platter or something like hummus and pita. Yard clippings are frowned upon by vegetarians.

• Light candles for scent and ambiance! Soy candles are good for your guests who have allergies … or just a bowl of Benedryl in the bathroom.

• Clean your bathroom! (As your mother says, this should be done anyway!)

• Have mints available in the bathroom. Also Dixie cups for water and hand towels. You don’t need your guests routing through the linen closet.

• Expect guests to go routing through your medicine cabinets. Put away or rather, lock away, all pills and medicines which could be taken and sold on the streets!

• Clean your fridge. No one wants to go in for some butter and find your mold experiment that has been in that Tupperware for 3 months!

• Sweep your floors. I would rather not have a dust bunny the size of an elephant attach itself to my shoes.

• Clean high traffic areas. Everywhere else, take advantage of low lighting to create a mood… or as well call it in the restaurant/bar business … hiding the spots and dirty areas.

• Have soft music playing in every room; it doesn’t have to be loud. Just some classics, jazz, or standards to fill the awkward pauses in conversation.

• Have music playing in the bathroom. It has to be loud enough to cover awful bathroom sounds! On the same note, put out air freshener or matches for those bathroom disasters.

• Make sure that you thank people personally for what they brought, whether it be a thank you note, phone call, or email. I have softened my views on this in recent months when I originally advocated writing a thank you note. The bottom line is, if someone brought something, thank them after the event. It will make those people feel special and you will get that warm fuzzy feeling inside without having to take your nightly medication!

With these little hints and ideas, you are on your way to having an affair to remember! Or just drink heavily and it will all be a blur.

*Statements made by this writer may or may not be true depending on state of mind while writing this blog

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