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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Let me entertain you.......

Although my house and my body have not completely recovered from the November to January holiday hoopla, I'm at it again.
The menu planning, the recipe hunt, the table settings, the mood, the music, the drinks, the making myself just a little bit crazy about it all....just so that I can be crowned.......


At the moment, I am caring for my father full time (with the help of a caregiver so I can go to work!) so having something completely brain numbing to occupy my mind (besides work and parental care) is a good thing......  

In reality, I'm doing you (but mostly me!) a big favor here.....considering that I don't think you want to hear about (and I don't really want to recount it all!) my latest adventures with my father's swollen ankles and his demands for special treats and the daily wranglings of a day in my work life, I figured I'd give you a little peek into what's going on in Judiland that has nothing to do with either.....

Here we go....
I'm starting to obsess about seriously think about a business entertaining event for my husband that I was going to do over the holidays but just became entirely too overwhelmed to do take on.....
My work-is-my-life husband is now anxious to get this event underway.
Just when I thought I managed to escape it.......he reminds me.
Of course, I had to remind him that we also have to consider the fact that we have our annual  Easter Eve wine tasting to host and that we have our son coming into town for an alumni event along with some guests in mid-April plus we have been talking about having a cocktail party type of thing to honor our new college graduate come May.
And, of course, we've got the St. Patrick's Day  high holy days wedged in there....
What that means is that  HIS WORK-RELATED event has to be strategically placed somewhere in between all of that....and the regular everyday shit stuff....

Alright, just when you thought I was going to give you a run down about just how busy we are partying up a storm and just when you decided that maybe you didn't want to hear how hard it is to party party party party  to read  any further.....have no fear.  I'm done.
 I only presented all that text to give you the background story to explain why I've been toiling into the night searching for the best home entertaining bloggers so I can steal their ideas to uncover their latest and greatest tips and scouring the internet and quizzing anyone who will take my call after 10 pm on tried-and-true ideas  for  hosting a quasi-elegant party (as in....no paper or plastic ware) with the greatest of ease while being budget minded.....
THE GREATEST OF EASE WHILE BEING BUDGET MINDED?
Well, that's what some of my old and new entertaining guru friends are telling me.
And, I am choosing to believe them.  It makes life so much easier that way.  


Did you know.....
*if you want to serve your guests in style--with nice looking, matching dishes and glassware, you don't have to spend a fortune?  The DollarTree can save you tons!  The DollarTree---who knew??? And, you don't have to visit every DollarTree store within a 50 mile radius to  amass coordinated dishes and goblets and glasses for 24 or more people!  You can order cases online!  I learned that new trick from a very stylish blogger.....The Reluctant EntertainerHonest-to-goodness, her blog is so full of great ideas that I have lost oodles of sleep thanks to her!   I followed her guidance and ordered cases of their Elegant Cut Glass dishes, bowls, goblets and glasses. (don't tell anyone but I also ordered a case of the blue wine goblets for summer cocktails...) They are being shipped to my local DollarTree at no cost!  Even better! You might want to do yourself a favor and check out her blog to see how nice a table looks using these very versatile  cut crystal pieces.  I'm beyond thrilled that I can use these for all kinds of entertaining!  And, I have so many ideas on how I can dress them up for any occasion.....my mind is on fire....
*that Pinterest is addictive?  Yes, I am sure you did.  And, if you didn't.....if you click on that link, you will soon find out! There are so many amazing  easy-to-do, budget friendly, elegant and why-didn't-I-think-of-that table scapes, party ideas and recipes that my head is just swimming with ideas.  I mean....really....will I ever sleep?  
*that you don't have to deal with Sterno or keeping things in your oven or on your stove top to keep things warm?  Yes, that's right.  I found this amazing product, and this one and this one  over the holidays and they saved my sanity and my hostess-with-the-mostessessness on several occasions.  Although these things might be a bit of an investment all at once, I can guarantee you that you will be patting yourself on the back and doing cartwheels each time you whip them out for a party.  I bought these items in November and so far I have used them about a dozen times and have lent them out to friends and family probably about a dozen more times.  Just sayin'
*that you don't have to keep repeating what's on the buffet line to every Tom, Dick, Harry, Mary and Sally?   You can get yourself a set of these cheapy little do-hickeys to place in front of each item on your menu.  Just make sure your guests can read.....
* that if you feel the need to hire help, you shouldn't do it for the entire party.....just for the last few hours?   That's when you need it the most (you're tired, you've had a few drinks, there's dirty dishes, you just feel like letting loose!).   So, set aside $100 of your party budget and find someone you trust who needs an extra $100 (the son or daughter of a friend...just not the son or daughter of anyone who is at the party!) and ask them to come about 2 hours into the party.   It will be an instant ahhhhhhh-thank you-God moment....
*speaking of setting aside a few extra bucks......may I suggest paying a professional to clean for you the day before the event?  You don't need the entire house cleaned.  Just the areas you will be using.  Do some research and find someone who can do it within your budget.  I got this tip from my friend who runs a successful little cleaning service in our area.  She was so right!  So, now I figure this mini-clean into my entire budget and plan.  I set aside $60 for day-before-entertaining cleaning....that gets me what I need.  I make a must-do list and say "do what you can for $60!"   It's a small price to pay for some peace of mind and the removal of dust bunnies.....
*that there is math involved in entertaining?   I am what you would call an overcooker.   Shocking to hear, I know!  But, before you shake your finger at me for my overcooking ways, let me also tell you another truth.  I am not good at math.  Put those two together and what you've got is a helluvalota leftovers.   And waste.  This blogger helped me to see the light.   Plus, she made it elementary enough for even me to comprehend.  I'm studying it each night!   Now, I just need to tell myself that we won't run out of food....
*that when you get dressed to entertain at home, you should dress like you are going to a party?   Yes, I know it's hard!  But, since entertaining is about your guests, it's important to consider them!  No guest wants to see their hosts dressed like servants or in their working-at-home clothes! It just doesn't feel right!   Yes, I read that somewhere a long time ago.  But, to read in black-and-white that I was right felt pretty damn liberating!   I think I always knew it!   Ever since I read that little piece of advice several years ago, it  formally validated my feelings of discomfort when the host (s) of a party or a holiday or a dinner "looked" as though they were "working" instead of "entertaining".  It was always a pet peeve of mine.  But, I never had the guts to tell anyone!
So, how to you avoid looking like a kitchen witch when you just cooked up a storm, screamed at your husband a few  hundred times, had a few super major melt downs and your marinara sauce just splashed all over you?  
First of all, give yourself enough time before the clock strikes PARTY.   Go ahead and do all the messy stuff wearing your comfy, messy clothes.  Then,  take a shower, put on your party clothes and accessories, do your hair and put your make up on after that stuff is all done.  And, you make sure you have a cute little apron to cover your nice outfit while you wrap up the last minute details.  And, make sure that the cute little apron is one you wouldn't mind being caught in should a few guests arrive a bit early for the party!  I prefer the full aprons (to cover as much as possible!).  I have great luck finding them at great prices at Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Ross and on clearance at Anthropologie.   In fact, one of my favorite gifts to give is a cute apron....

How do you entertain with ease when you need to be comfy all over?
First rule of thumb is to make sure you have a few pair of amazing party shoes that you can stand in all night long.   I typically choose shoes that are either darn cute and comfy.....like these (I have them in a few colors/prints) or these (I got them for a steal at TJ Maxx) or I choose   "conversation" shoes that I love ......like these (the most comfy shoes ever ever) or these (this brand is amazing....artistic and comfy comfy!) or  a pair of my stand-by Dansko's if (and ONLY if...) they  happen to go with what I am wearing.....
Second, make sure you have a few entertaining "uniforms" that are either playful, elegant, laid-back or woo-hoo....depending on the theme or feel of your party.   One of my all time favorite go-to's are   Traveler's from Chico's......comfort and style that can dressed up or down with accessories and can usually fit into any scenario......  
 Of course, everyone has their own favorite brands for either fit or style when it comes to shoes and clothes but trust me....with a little fashion pre-planning.....you can be the bell of your own ball! 
 

Okay, I think I have sufficiently cleared my brain.....time to kick start another very ENTERTAINING day....












2 comments:

Catherine55 said...

Great tips!! Thank you! And, happy entertaining! Love the one about getting help for just the last few hours!

Chris said...

I'm exhausted just reading your tips, my dear!