Monday, April 21, 2014

My Inner 5 Year Old in Dinner Party Heaven

When my co-author Judie O'Neill casually told me about the title that had come to her in the middle of the night -- The Lazy Woman's Guide to Just About Everything -- I was in the middle of writing a book about throwing dinner parties with ease.  Immediately I realized that a book with her title would be my book on steroids, and was a far better idea.

Still, we put plenty of dinner party tips in the book even though everyone accuses me of being anything BUT lazy when it comes to entertaining.   I protest though.  They are lazy because I define lazy as "less stress + more joy." These parties fill me with joy and I create them with as little stress as possible. On my birthday this year I spent the day at the spa and had a dinner party that night!  

It's all about setting priorities, and just ticking off the to do lists that make the priorities a reality.   I love trying to make the most delicious meal I've ever made.  But my #1 priority is the table because my feeling is that if things look great, people won't notice the things that don't taste quite right.  I never hit a home run with every single thing I serve. But who cares?  They are too distracted by colors and candles!

I usually set my table two or three days ahead.  I shop for the food but don't start cooking until the table is set.  Then I know that I have "built it" and therefore they will come.  

These photos were actually taken the night I set the table for last week's party -- three days ahead!  I added several finishing touches the day of the party, which I also always do, but I would rather be caught with the food not finished than a table not fully set.

The reason goes back to my 5th Christmas.  As I walked sleepily toward the living room I heard the hushed whispers of my parents. I was worried that their hushed tones were cause for concern because the house was very dark.  Too dark.

I got to the doorway of the living room and saw the most magnificent thing I had ever seen in my life. Just to the right of the entry way, glowing wondrously in the dark was a children's sized buffet, ivory with gold trim.  On top of the buffet were silver candelabras holding the tallest more glorious gold candlesticks.  It seems like a see of gold and light to me. 

I burst into tears because I had never seen anything so magical.  I was stunned to touch it and find out that everything was plastic.  It didn't make it any less luxurious.  It was still the most elegant buffet I had ever seen.  My mom didn't even have an adult sized one as cool as this.  It was as good as solid gold.  

When we gathered around the Hot Fudge Sundae station last week, with those candles lighting up everyone's faces, I was sent right back to my 5th Christmas. 

I don't need a fancy buffet.  In fact I think the top of this metal bar table actually IS plastic (I thought it was wood when I bought it!) and it doesn't make a damn bit of difference because once those candles are lighting the faces of my guests I get to feel like my parents must have felt that Christmas morning.  

I am forever grateful to the love of my mom and dad for creating magical moments like these, and my greatest LAZY joy is creating them for others.