Filed under: Entertaining
So did you guys know I had a party? Oh, I don’t know, maybe I mentioned a few times here and there. Well, here’s the thing…suddenly I’m feeling quite shy about the party and my planning abilities and I regret the hype I might have generated because really, I am no expert. It was a lovely get together, and it looked precisely the way that I had envisioned…but my insecurities stem from the idea that perhaps we had over-planned, and just maybe it was interpreted as more opulent than we had intended.
For us, it was the celebration of many things: making time to connect with friends, celebrating during a time of year that’s often dull and dark (in Seattle anyway), and making the most of a silly holiday. It was also a time to celebrate the fact that half of my things were moved into Andrew’s house, not 24 hours before the party. So there was stocking, cooking, moving, and planning that was all happening simultaneously. Crazy? Yes, definitely. We are crazy.
But with 18 of our closest friends in our new home it was a beautiful and fun get-together and I think we did a great job at staying nimble and open. Here’s how things went down.
Planning and Set-up
During menu planning I use my trusty Sharpie pen and Post-It’s to “diagram” how the plating and service will look. This is the best way to see how many platters/serving trays you’ll need and also show how much table space (and storage space) you’ll need. Each serving piece will have its own label so you can move and plan. Any platters that will be switched out for new ones should be stacked.
We ordered flowers from our friend Nisha at Fleurish and picked them up the day off. Because I had included vases (and votives) into the planning of the table I knew where each arrangement would go. I also made sure to plan to have some mini guys for the bar area, side tables, and bathrooms.
And then there was this amazing piece in my ceramic vase (which was surprisingly 3x bigger than I expected when I originally got it). So I took my own vases in to Nisha and with only the mention of no reds, lots of blushes, champagnes, and light pinks she created the most beautiful arrangements. They were quite the showpieces and ultimately set a sexy, festive tone. In other words, the ladies totally freaked!
Initially we had quite an elaborate menu planned, and it was mostly because our start time of 7:30 was determined to be prime dinner time, but our research led us slightly astray as more modern couples eat before any sort of cocktail dinner/party, even if the start time is more or less dinner. This was actually a blessing in disguise as our menu was easily scaled back and we only put out as much as was needed. Really at the end of all things, people really only cared about getting a nice Valentine’s buzz.
I didn’t capture everything, there was a pretty endive and grapefruit salad that I wish I could post but here are a couple of bites that were some favorites.
Mini pot pies are called hand pies, for real. Whatever they’re called, they were a hit and were the perfect party bite because they’re hearty and small enough to pop more than one. We cranked out tons of these guys ahead of time and then kept them warm in the oven.
The most wonderful tiny meatballs for snacking. We served them in a large Le Creuset pot and had the skewers on the side for people to serve themselves.
We kept the cheese and charcuterie simple and served only one type of cheese and ham — we just got A LOT of each one. It made things so much easier and the cheese bar was really an easy way to get people full and satisfied in case they did come really hungry.
Bar & Booze
We planned on vodka, rye, beer, and mostly red wine and bubbly. Surprisingly everyone was all about the bubbly and we went through tons. We had coffee on hand too but it seemed that people were more interested in continuing to drink bubbles.
One thing we did learn about using coupes for parties was that slight spillage is inevitable. Whatever, I’ll take it just to use a sexy coupe but for practical purposes just stick to flutes.
Crepe Paper Garland
I love working with the crepe paper but I was totally stressing trying to figure out what I was going to do with them. At one point I asked Andrew if he thought it looked prom-y and he kinda paused like he was trying to think of how to answer. Poor guy. Really, there’s a fine line to follow in order to avoid prom, so I decided that with only a touch of red and mostly the light colors we’d be safe. I also knew that I didn’t want things to be symmetrical (and there should be no twists!) so I went with a haphazard, disheveled look that was it was definitely less prom, and more festive. Problem solved.
As fate would have it, our piping tool for soup shooters (a turkey baster/injector) was out of commission, so in a quick regroup I repurposed the shot glasses with slices of my all time favorite chocolate (Pralus Barre Infernale)…that was originally planned to be sliced by the party-goers at a small bar. So perhaps the lesson here is all about versatility and regrouping.
Another piece of decandence was in the form of a take-away container and I must say this was one of my favorite touches. Our chef at the restaurant makes the most unbelieveable pandan leaf custard, chiffon cake cupcakes, so I ordered a few dozen from her for the party. We stuffed them in takeaway containers and handed them out as our guests were preparing to leave. It was a sweet and easy little touch that I’ll add at all of my future soirees.
Before and After
Ok, so I’ve mostly shared the prettiest parts with you, but I can assure you that there were times where it was a total shit show and I wanted to be sure to be honest about how things came together. Oh, and I have yet to mention that for whatever reason my gougeres did not work. But whatever! We had so much else that they were not even missed and the lesson I took from everything was to stay nimble and open. Really the most important piece was making our friends feel comfortable and loved, and that is definitely what we did.
Things were pretty grim before.
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