Another year, another party. I made some old, familiar mistakes this year – plus a bunch of new ones! But I think overall, our crowd of around 60 people seemed to enjoy themselves. No one was any wiser for the things I forgot or ran out of time to do. As usual, we have our list of must do’s and don’t do’s, and I’ll share the list with you.
To begin with, I just felt really behind the entire weekend. We planned the party for Sunday, figuring Jim would be home Friday and Saturday to help me get stuff done. We also spent a week the week before the party in Orlando, so I had a mountain of stuff to catch up anyway.
By the morning of the party, I had done a lot of the leg work. We were not having ANYTHING catered, which we usually do. I had roasted two turkeys, and I had made potato salad. I cooked the sausage and fried the kielbasa. I made spinach dip and hoagie dip. I store bought roast beef, and needed to simmer that in gravy, and simmer the sliced turkey in gravy to put it on the buffet. I had SOOOOO much trouble with my hard boiled eggs that my 3 dozen deviled eggs turned into just over a dozen. Brighid – bless her to the bottom of her little heart – had done A LOT of the actual housework – wiping down the bathrooms, running the vacuum, etc. To complicate matters, the party was scheduled for 2 o’clock, and at 12:45, I ran upstairs to get a fast shower. By the time I was out of the shower, we already had company!
So here’s the basic lowdown on how things went, what I did wrong, what we did right…
Table 1 – Drinks
We said a couple of years ago that we needed to add another long table and put it in the Florida room with drinks on it. That would free up the kitchen counter for things and eliminate the need to manuever around the dessert table in the kitchen to get a drink. Well, this year, we asked my mom to bring her table, and it worked out GREAT. The sodas, the ice, the liquor, the wine – everything was out in the Florida room on the table out there. We had two tubs with sodas and beer in them, and we had way too much wine. We also had a pretty stocked bar and mixers, so anything anyone wanted was there. We need to get ourselves a table and make this change permanent.
Table 2 – Chafing Dishes and hot foods
We made the decision this year to try to keep everything in chafing dishes, to avoid things like the crockpots being too far on the back of the table for people to reach or what to do with the lids to the crockpots. In the end, though, I put the meatballs and sausage in a crockpot. They just taste better cooked together, and the crockpot does a great job helping the flavors blend together. The other crockpots had hot roast turkey and gravy, hot roast beef and gravy, green bean casserole (Megan’s recipe), broccoli casserole, and kielbasa and sauerkraut. At the end of the night, there was virtually NO kielbasa and sauerkraut left – the few odd pieces of kielbasa. We had some turkey left, more than I thought we would have, and based on the fact that my aunt with a ton of kids cancelled last minute due to pink eye, I figured we’d have stuff left over. I had made two trays of roast beef, figuring it would be popular and I could easily freeze the leftovers, but I had a full tray left. About half of the green bean casserole was eaten and 1/4 of the broccoli casserole. They looked similar in the chafing dishes, so people may have thought they were the same thing, and I don’t know if it’s worth doing veggies at this type of party. And of course, the meatballs and sausage – most of which was eaten.
Also on this table was potato salad. I made 10 pounds, and we went through about 6 at the party. My mom liked it, and since it’s her recipe, that’s all the compliment it needed.
Table 3 – Snack Type Foods
This table was the biggest disappointment. I threw away a ton of hoagie dip and spinach dip – both of which have been very popular in previous years. I got rid of all of the deviled eggs, but I only made a dozen eggs, but only about 16 deviled eggs made it out to the table. I threw away pretty much the whole cheese tray – I think only Granuaile and I ate anything from the cheese platter. The pickles and olives were picked on, but I did still have quite a few left over. The pickles I thought would be least popular – and the ones I threw on at the last minute because I had a spot left over in the divided tray – were the dill spears. I only had 1 of those left. I also threw away a whole tray of crackers. I don’t know why more of this stuff didn’t get eaten. I know early on, a lot of people were watching football downstairs, and the chips and dip tray was emptied, but no one really came up to get other snacks.
The one exception in popularity from this table was the shrimp. I made 6 pounds of shrimp and cocktail sauce, and had not one shrimp left.
Table 4 – Desserts
Would you believe I forgot to put out the bulk of the desserts? How does anyone forget dessert? I baked a pumpkin pie, a coconut custard pie, and an apple pie – all Mrs. Smith. I sliced them and put them out, but they were a last minute addition. I made a cupcake wreath, but the only one who ate a cupcake was Eilis. We bought cookies from Wegman’s and made our own cookie tray – people really ate the cookies, but we over bought and had a whole tray left over. Aunt Barbara and Uncle Buddy brought a 5 fruit pie, and it looked amazing. Harry and his wife were the only ones who tried it, but both loved it, and then my mom and Bob had it on Christmas Eve and said it was really good. I also made fruit salad, two bowls. One was eaten, the other was not, and the dip was gone. But I had cheesecake, eclairs and cream puffs in the freezer that never made it to the table. I can’t believe I forgot them!
The other things I forgot – the provolone cheese for the meatball sandwiches; the horseradish for the roast beef; the cranberry sauce for the turkey; and the spicy mustard for the kielbasa. Evidently, I’m just not good with condiments and accompaniments.
We still had people at the house until after 10 o’clock, and the kids really seemed to have a great time. I will NEVER do this party this close to Christmas again – it was way too much to get ready so close to having to get all of the Christmas stuff ready. I also needed more time between the party and the trip to Florida. Either that, or I need to prepare more ahead of time and freeze it or call in the caterer.
We managed to get everything cleaned up and ourselves in bed by 1 AM – better than I thought we would do!
Overall, it was a great day. Jim says every year that this is really for the kids, and they appreciated it. Granuaile was asking to go to bed when the last guest left, and Eilis was asking for playdates with all of the kids that came. They had a good time.
Next year – earlier, catered, and with strings tied to my fingers to remember the provolone cheese and other accompaniments!