Entertaining the Joneses: Illusions of Grandeur
Yet another quandary of suburban living: habitual get-togethers. Currently, I do not make a practice of cooking and party-planning for the masses. I think in my 20’s I had visions of the neighborhood sauntering over to our place for theme dinners and cocktail parties. I’ve since taken a good look at our family-first existence and realized that I’m just not that girl. I do, however, enjoy going over to other people’s homes for theme dinners and cocktail parties, but (sigh) Martha, I ain’t. And that’s okay. So, with this epiphany comes the revelation that I: A) have far too many wine glasses squeezed into my cabinets and B) outside colored lanterns and yard decorations are uselessly collecting dust in my attic. The summer soirees’ they were purchased for didn’t happen.
Again, I blame the infatuation with eye candy in the form of magazines, websites and blog lurking. It’s a lovely idea to visualize a garden party with multiple tables clad in chevron fabric and tiny little sandwiches piled on colorful trays. The honest truth is, I would not choose to host this kind of event. Know thyself, right? I would much rather spend the time it takes to prep for such an affair with the people I’m inviting….drinking champagne and lounging on patio furniture. I think with entertaining, a lot of us love the idea of having a Pinterest-worthy spread in our kitchen, but in reality, we just want to enjoy people and easy-to-prepare snacks. And with that, dear friends, we can liquidate the party platters, cheese blocks and drink umbrellas.
What if you are a party girl? The hostess with the mostess gene might be in your DNA. It’s possible your 18 wine glasses go through the dish washer en masse more than twice a year. I suggest keeping party-themed items and large numbers of stem and glassware in one spot so that you can realistically take note of how many times they make it out of the cabinet. Also, you probably already know this, but borrowing items is not a crime. It’s actually quite resourceful to ask neighbors and friends for things when you’re hosting a once-a-year event. The “what if I actually become a party thrower?” dilemma has risen up for me several times in my purging process, but I realized that my friends are generous. I also realized that I like to be generous too. My neighbor in New York was contemplating buying a second refrigerator to store food for the seasonal parties she had every year. I told her that I would happily put her cold pasta salads and bottles of Chardonnay in my garage fridge once every four months. You might be surprised with the hospitality of folks who are thrilled to have their 50 wine glasses used once in awhile. With these thoughts, I now enjoy empty space in my stemware cabinets and the absence of Party City supply tripping hazards in the rest of the house.
The truth: Although I completely recognize there are plenty of happy party-throwers out there, I have come to terms with my own simple outlook on entertaining. I like to keep it small and easy, with minimal clean-up. I would rather bond with small groups of friends more frequently, than be counted on for a once-a-year party of the century. An added bonus is the space created when you free yourself of party gear storage for future events.