Monday, February 13, 2012

Party hangover

Subtitle: Advice I Should Have Asked for Last Week

'Twas a good party. And like many big events, as fun as it was, I'm happy it's over. I adore hosting, but now that we've had our intimate 40-person (!) gathering, I can settle into the type of entertaining I prefer: small group gatherings or having another couple over for dinner. Hosting lots of folks means lots of pressure. It's loud, silly fun, but it's pressure. Saturday night was also, by the way, one of DC's most blustery nights to date. At times there were whiteout conditions outside - not exactly conducive to partying on the back patio with the keg, twinkling lights, and fire pit. And so our house was bursting to the seams. Of course, one could argue we asked for such weather:

So on the heels of successfully hosting a big crowd (well, big for our small house!) on a truly fun night, here are a few things I'm happy we don't have to do again any time soon:
  • Have glassware on hand for 40+ people (but can you believe not a single glass was broken?)
  • Quickly open new bottles of wine and prosecco (too much pressure when someone's watching and waiting with an empty glass! ps: Can you tell I was never a waitress? )
  • Not have enough time for everyone (I hate barely getting to talk to folks I haven't seen in ages)
  • Make quick introductions (I prefer more natural introductions where folks who don't know one another can ease into conversation. That's much better than "X meet X, you have X in common - bye!")
  • Stress about food (there's either too little, too much, or too something, but there's always stress about it)
What a night... capped off with a very loud Whitney Houston tribute courtesy of our friend Alex at 2 a.m., of course! (Apologies to my in-laws who were sleeping upstairs.)

I'd love to know... what are your lessons learned from hosting big shindigs? Any tips to manage food, drinks, and the delicate social balance that is tons of people you know in various ways all thrown together in your living room? You probably know me well enough if you're reading to understand that I have too much yuppie guilt to hire caterers or people to help out, so while I appreciate those suggestions, I'm especially interested in hearing from fellow I-Can-Do-It-All-ers. We are a stubborn crew, aren't we?

PS: I still have lots of dish-washing to do. Yesterday was our lazy recovery day, and I have no guilt about that.


  1. I always try to assign some duties to my friends (the less stressful things) so I don't have to feel like I'm running around like a crazy person. I find that most people are happy to help out. I also tend to make the same two desserts for every large gathering because they are big, easy and everyone can serve themselves -- the Pioneer Woman's chocolate and red velvet sheet cakes.

  2. My mom's #1 rule is always, always rent glassware. It's cheap as all get out, and you can return them dirty! WIN!

  3. You are brave. 40 is a lot! My mom always used to hire a neighborhood high school or college girl to do easy things and help clean up, etc. Maybe that's a compromise?

    Saturday night's weather was crazy! I love wintry weather every now and then when I can be cuddled up inside, but unfortunately, I was driving back from Annapolis that night and it was a little sketchy at times.

  4. I always get the guilties about not spending enough time with everyone after hosting a party!!

  5. aw, i thought it was great! i always get so stressed out that i'm either running around like crazy (and yelling at sean) or totally drunk by the time my guests arrive. we stick to smallish parties around here.

  6. The best parties are the ones that leave you feeling a little (or a lot) hungover. I'm definitely in the I-Can-Do-It-All boat, too. I think back at some of the parties we've hosted (our first Oktoberfest and my sister's graduation party) and wonder how we kept it all together. The homemade soft pretzels, home brews, and multiple desserts may have been a bit over the top. But I wouldn't change a single detail!


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