In yesterday’s panick-y blog post I shared that Annie, Louisa and I attended a bridal shower over the weekend for my niece. It was a beautiful garden party that, unfortunately for me, raised the bar on their expectations if they get married someday. Curses on you people who host such beautiful parties! It was like a cooking show party come to life. Just look at that beautiful setting in the photo above. Curses!
I’m glad that’s out of my system. I can return to being your objective reporter. And there are lots of good lessons in entertaining to share from this event.
1. MOST IMPORTANT! The host of this shower hired someone to help her serve, clear, tidy up, and do all of those behind the scene activities that take away a host’s composure. I can’t emphasize this enough. Whatever that woman was paid, she was worth double.
2. She rented all of the dishes, glasses, etc. No need to worry about running dishwashers or putting things away after the party. Just load the dirty stuff into the crates and the magical rental company fairies take them away.
3. The hostess allowed other people to help. One of her friends contributed a signature cocktail. Another one helped bake some of the cookies offered at dessert. The bride’s family (meaning her mother, aunts, and cousins) was allowed to prepare a couple of the appetizer trays – endive spears filled with either shrimp salad or goat cheese, walnuts and shaved beets.
4. Endive spears make an excellent carrier for fillings and look pretty impressive too.
5. There weren’t many options. She had one fabulous platter of Salad Nicoise with Grilled Tuna for every table. That’s it. No buffet, no dozens of side dishes. She simplified her life by serving one all-inclusive dish. Of course, that does assume her guests enjoy this particular dish, but my guess is that she knew most of the guests in attendance and it was a safe bet. There were rumors that chicken was available for anyone who didn’t eat tuna, but I didn’t see it on anyone’s plate.
6. SECOND MOST IMPORTANT LESSON! She planned dishes that could be mostly prepared in advance. All of the vegetables for the main dish were prepped and cooked the day before. All she did that morning was cook the tuna and compose the platters. She worked a little bit each day in the week leading up to the party on the delicious ice cream sundaes with salted caramel topping.
7. She limited the beverages served to the signature cocktail, white wine, blush wine, and sparkling water. That way she didn’t need to worry about 10 choices of soft drinks, a mixed bar, or anything else. She didn’t have to plan a trip to Costco to load up on gallons of beverages, or paper goods either by following strategy number 2 (above). I probably would have added unsweetened iced tea as another choice for the underage guests, but since my girls were the only underage guests there, I can see why it didn’t cross her mind. And, let’s face it, with a mother like me they’ve learned to deal with two choices over the years: Choice 1 – Take it Choice 2 – Leave It.
I’m sure this host was working hard during the weeks leading up to this party, but with the strategies she followed she was able to make it look easy, and be the gracious host throughout the event.