Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tis the Season

It's almost inescapable.  The holiday season truly is the time of parties.  Invites begin arriving for some events before Halloween because some worry that their guests will already be booked if they wait too long.  Add to that the little cocktail parties, and the ones who splurge on big hotel gatherings. 

But what always seems to amaze mouse is that people will pay a copious amount detail into the flower arrangements or the place settings and the food is almost treated as an afterthought.  We attended a big swank hotel event a few years ago, and the food was a huge disappointment.  The room was gorgeous, the music was appropriate -- they hired a jazz band, ample seating so if guests got tired of circulating the room, they could sit.  Plenty of staff to hand out wine, and food.   The host and hostess put a lot of thought into the smallest details.  One could only surmise that they used up all their energy in those things so when it came to the food, they were burned out.  

The hotel featured one of those celebrity chef restaurants but that doesn't mean the restaurant is catering your party -- the hotel has their own kitchen and staff. Don't simply make selections from the various columns and call it done.  Taste the wine, and seriously if you hate it, don't serve it.  Don't assume that bacon-wrapped chicken will taste better because it's served on a long skewer -- actually taste it and if it requires three gulps of water to get it down -- ya might want to skip it.  

Why spend so much money on a big party only to skimp on the food and wine?  

We've seen this time and again.  It's often the worst part, because you don't want to be critical.  We once walked into the most gorgeous home, the kind of home that's just built for entertaining.  It has a kitchen that had mouse drooling.  4 dishwashers!  Seriously!  

It was supposed to be a cocktail party, but they bought the cheapest booze and wine.  Generic mixers is fine, but generic rum?  Then the food, and mouse isn't kidding when she writes this, chicken strips, little cocktail wieners wrapped in puff pastry, stuffed mushrooms that had little flavor and the texture like little rubber balls.  

You might think that mouse is just being a snob, but actually felt bad for the couple hosting.  We were the third couple to come up with an excuse for leaving early.  

Sometimes the opposite is completely true as well.  We attended a party that had the best food, but everything else was just awful.  No music, the room was chilly, and there wasn't enough seating.  No one wants to stand for 4 hours.  The host and hostess were so busy with the amazing food, they neglected everything else. 

Pity those two couples didn't merge and because together they would have thrown the best cocktail event ever.  

Thank goodness mouse has some good friends who basically saved her from making similar errors.  The first big cocktail party we hosted, could have easily been a disaster for a completely different reason.  We had the food, the room, music, not too hot or cool, but mouse had no clue how to mingle or introduce people (the art of dropping tidbits of information).  You gather people into a room and sometimes not everyone knows everyone else.  Trial by fire mouse learned there is an art to hosting that goes way beyond the other stuff.  Lucy acted as a buffer for mouse helping her fumble through, she knew things about our guests that mouse had no clue about because she runs with an adjacent circle. So she knew to keep certain people at arms length and who should be introduced. In other words, Lucy saved mouse's behind.  

It was completely fascinating -- because while mouse was fretting over the other pre-party details she never once thought about what happens after the guests arrive.