Sunday, March 30, 2008

Aloha to Spring Cocktail Club

the guests could help themselves to a lai... it dresses up any outfit!

Well, I had high hopes of taking lots of pictures to document the party but, as always, it just seemed weird to have a camera out once people arrived so here are the few shots I was able to snap.

Our cocktail club was formed in 2000 and my husband and I are among the original members. Over the years, people have moved and we have replaced them with other great people! We had 12 couples for years and now we have 13. Each couple takes a month and the hosts may invite additional friends if they want. The hosts provide the libations and the cocktail club members bring an appetizer. (Most hosts prepare a couple of appetizers, too) Most of us like to offer a special cocktail and my favorite are the ones that do because I love trying new drinks!

the color scheme

My Contributions to the Menu

Aloha Mai Tais
4oz pineapple juice
4oz orange juice
1oz dark rum
1oz light rum
1oz triple sec
1oz lime juice
1/2 oz grenadine

Coconut Shrimp (from Sam's)

Fresh Fruit

Polynesian Dumplings (from Sam's)

Tequila Lime Chicken Wings (from Sam's)

Sweet & Sour Meatballs 

12oz apricot preserves
1/2 cup hoison sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar

Pinapple Upside-Down Cupcakes
(I just followed the directions on the side of the box of Duncan Hines Pineapple Supreme cake mix)

Thank you Pioneer Woman! The guys (and I) LOVED these!

A very early shot of my centerpiece which is SO not my specialty (thank goodness a friend me flowers that afternoon)

the light stuff

the hard stuff

This was probably the most relaxed I've been at one of my own (non-family) parties and I think these are the reasons:
  1. Good number of people- about 30

  2. I took a friend's advice and hired a lady to help with the bartending and keeping things clean during the party

  3. Started heating the food earlier, rather than waiting until the very last minute

    4. Made sure I was ready by 2pm

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Good Refresher

It's always fun to flip through this book before having people over. I like how down to earth the author Deborah Ford seems to be. She says some of the best parties serve only sweet tea and a sleeve of Ritz crackers!  I also think she clears up some common 'Southern' misconceptions: it's not all about debutantes and passed-down silver.

The most important things are family, friends, and kindness. And the most important rule of etiquette- making others feel special, welcome, and comfortable.

Some of my favorite excerpts:

1. "When it comes right down to it, Southern hospitality is born of a unique lifestyle, one of grace and style faced with a deep appreciation for leisure and laughter... it is a blend of many honorable virtues passed down through generations- gentleness, kindness, and the receiving of strangers and friends alike with openness, selflessness, and caring." -Emyl Jenkins

2. Southern girls want to welcome friends and neighbors into their homes because they want to share the love that they have there. We are homebodies at heart. That doesn't mean that we're wallflowers, but it does mean that our hospitality comes from wanting to share our homes, and ourselves, with others.

3. Just remember: It's all about having fun. If the flowers are a little droopy or the potatoes are a little burnt, it really doesn't matter. Like life, no party is ever perfect, and those little problems are just part of the fun.

This last part reminds me of one time when I had a girlfriend and her daughter over for lunch. She was pretty late arriving so it gave me extra time to make sure everything was 'just so.' We had a nice time and she invited us over a few days later. I arrived only about 5 minutes late and I could tell she was flustered. I was so excited to have the company that I was more than happy to help out in the kitchen- informal chit chat while doing an activity (like chopping) is always my preference! But, I could quickly sense that she was nervous.

At one point she dropped a glass and it shattered on the floor. I started cleaning it up and I noticed she was crying! I felt AWFUL. I was worried maybe she had received some bad news earlier or something but it turned out she was just feeling rushed.  She told me that when I had her over everything was so perfect that she felt inept. Never have I felt so badly.

I quickly explained that if it seemed that way, it was a one-time thing... and actually, it felt a little 'staged' to me (when I had her over). Now I almost intentionally try to keep things 'im'perfect? (I don't have to try too hard!) I don't want anyone feeling uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is the poor guest who has to ask for more toilet paper from the potty seat, but guests can help out with some things... I love to!