redo I do

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

What fun to keep the party going. When my daughter made the tough decision to downsize her wedding she asked if I would host a party for her Chicago friends later in the fall. My answer was a resounding yes!

As the date approached my daughter reminded me that this was actually going to be a small wedding not simply a cocktail reception. Which meant I needed to elevate my game. And if I was being completely honest, it was a game I hadn’t played in a couple years. During Covid I mastered the “bubble dinner party” for four. But a dinner for forty, in an apartment, well that I needed to get my head around.

Any event’s success lies in planning and prepping ahead of time. Some aspects I had down, like making and freezing several appetizers and the pesto for the pasta. On other’s I was a bit rusty. One thing I should have considered was the RSVP deadline on the beautiful “second” invitation my daughter sent out. Knowing how many guests you’re having as far ahead as possible really helps.

In my former entertaining life, I had a stock hold of premium paper products, crates of assorted wine glasses, an army of folding tables and chairs. The farther I move away from my move from a large house in the country to a city apartment the more I’ve come to curse Marie Kondo. Anyone considering a downsize should really pay close attention to what they are giving away. Why did I relinquish my beautifully large salad bowl or that array of extra stemware? Let me tell you driving to Pottery Barn the day before my party certainly did not bring me joy. 

A bright spot was pulling out my beloved sterling serving pieces. Luckily, they’d been properly polished and tucked away in their felt bags (thank you Mary and Mae for working your magic and teaching me some of the tricks of your trade- boy do I miss you two!)

Another good tip is put post-it notes on each dish noting what it will serve. Then either take a photo of it on your phone or commit it to memory and remove the post-its before your guests arrive.

If you’re having a large party be sure to hire some people to help bartend and serve. Thank you to my dear friend for putting me in touch with Kamal, Mo and Jose. That terrific trio really elevated the event (as did the gorgeous flowers you sent the bride that graced the dining room table)!

I just wish I had prepared more for the bartender and servers to take over when they arrived. Again, it made me realize how woefully out of practice I was. One should think of this type of party as a relay race. Being cognizant that you have to pass the baton would have helped me create a better game plan strategy for them when they arrived.

I always offer a full bar and rarely a signature cocktail. People like to drink what they like to drink. Typically, I serve all the same bottles of wine- a Chablis (which both Chardonnay and Sauv Blanc imbibers can agree on) and a lighter red such as a Pinot Noir or a Barbera d’Alba. If pouring bubbles, I’ll find a nice sparkling wine. 

But for this soiree I was actually excited to clean out my wine cellar (the one I built in my hall closet and put together from a do-it yourself kit I found on Amazon). I had some bottles that needed to be consumed and some special ones at that. Perfect for a special night. And perfectly sorted and served up by my amazing helpers.

With their assistance I knew I could present an array of passed canapes. Cheddar cheese tartlets, pigs in a blanket, and hot sausage appetizer were taken from the freezer and popped in the oven.

I prepped smoked salmon on cucumber rounds earlier in the day.

As were the caviar and egg cups so both could be assembled right before the guests arrived.

Dinner was a buffet of cold beef tenderloin and sliced smoked turkey. Brioche buns, horseradish sauce and honey mustard made for elegant sandwiches. A room temperature pistachio pesto pasta, pretty tomato and mozzarella skewers and a simple arugula salad rounded out the meal.

And what wedding would be complete without a cake to cut. This red velvet beauty came from my neighborhood favorite Bittersweet

Mini cupcake renditions accompanied the champagne toast.

Such an incredible evening celebrating this couple.

I’d say I do to this redo anytime!

post a comment

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.