I love to cook. I love to eat. I love to hang out with friends and a good bottle of wine (and by “good,” I mean an open bottle).
But I’ve never cared for the words “I love to entertain.” Even more obnoxious, to me, is, “oh, we love to entertain.” It has the ring to it like, “we are pregnant.” Trust me. No one else was pregnant for 9 months except me.
I have always liked the sound of a “dinner party.” It sounds elegant. It sounds so well-planned. It makes me think of Martha Stewart and Ina Garten. It makes me imagine myself on a beautiful spring day with a well-set table in my English garden with just the right sprig of this and that to make my table so inviting for all of my best girlfriends. We’ll sip on iced tea and Champagne and hold our pinkies in the air.
Well, I had such a dinner party yesterday. Rather, I had a dinner party yesterday. As I was taking pictures, documenting my novice at my first official dinner party, it occurred to me that I have thrown many dinner parties. They just all happen to fall under the category of holiday meals. But the same time and effort and planning goes into it.
My husband and I are well-versed in the art of parties. We’re known for our food and drink. No one ever goes away hungry. But for this occasion, which I’ll tell you about in a sec, I wanted to make it more intimate and have everyone sit down together. It just creates a different dynamic than having everyone scoop something up onto a paper plate (even if it’s a fancy paper plate) and finding a spot on the couch somewhere.
I was selected to host a Thai Kitchen House Party. If you don’t know what a House Party is, I encourage you to take a look at my post describing how I spent Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. This time, the cause was nearer and dearer to my heart: Thai food.
I first tried Thai food back in college. I was so desperate for a good meal that anytime my M.D. boss suggested lunch out, I immediately took her up on it (plus I knew she was buying). We went to the now-defunct Paul’s Siam Cuisine in Cleveland. My food was so disgusting that I think I ended up eating a spring roll and calling it lunch.
As my tastes matured (and so did I), I somehow have come to love (as in L-O-V-E) Thai food. I love eating it at a restaurant but we have also dabbled in cooking it at home. It requires some special ingredients but nothing too outrageous. Probably, the most foreign thing to most people would be the fish sauce. And to that, I say, simply, get over it. It’s necessary for Thai cooking.
So back to my dinner party. I was selected to host a party using a selection of Thai Kitchen’s product. I finally got around to setting the date (quite unintentionally) for 10-10-10. I’m sure that’s a lucky number or something. And here’s how I pulled it off with self-proclaimed success.
- First, if your house is less than Martha Stewart-like, spend an entire day cleaning. You never know where your guests will wander off to. You also never know when someone might say “Oh, I’d love to see a tour of the house.” It would be awfully embarrassing to say: “I’d love to but I have laundry piled up to the top of the dresser and the health department might have an issue with my bathrooms.” People kind of like to know they are eating in a clean house anyway.
- Get your table set. This is my favorite part. I went for the minimalist look here because I was a little lazy this time.
- Thai Kitchen sent me some lovely paper placemats but it was the closest thing I had to an Asian feel so I went with it. Plus it made for easy clean up.
- I added the red Thai Kitchen drink napkins for color. And used my best paper napkins along with the Thai Kitchen chopsticks inside some funky napkin rings.
- Next, prep your food in advance as much as possible without losing taste or texture. For this portion, I highly recommend marrying a man who likes to cook. If it’s too late for that, you may need to get up awfully early.
- Serve alcohol and put some thought into it. I went with Thai beer, Singha, to keep with the theme. Unfortunately (or fortunately), my husband and I were the only ones who drank it. Not all of it, mind you. Go for glass bottles. Always classier than cans. And make it easy for guests to serve themselves so they don’t feel self-conscious saying “gee, do you think I could have a little more wine?”
- Accommodate the children. Yes, we all want a night out without our kids. And certainly without other people’s kids, but the reality is that if you require someone to shell out some time and money to get a babysitter, you’ve just created a big obstacle for attendance. I did relegate them to their own table (complete with placemats, chopsticks, napkins, and macaroni & cheese).
- As soon as the kids are seated, serve the grown-up meal. You might get 5 uninterrupted minutes. And make sure you engage everyone in witty conversation, as appears to be the case in this photo.
Finally, when the kids get cranky, get everyone out of the house as quickly as possible. Don’t freak out if you didn’t get a chance to make the fabulous dessert you planned. You can still make it AND eat it. With a lot less interruptions.
As for clean up? It’s good to have a husband that likes to do that too. If not, do not let the guests help. Not only does it take away from the fun of the party for them, they are likely to put your good knives in the dishwasher and ruin them anyway.
Take it from me. When all else fails, including your tired feet, you can leave the dishes in the sink. They will still be there tomorrow. I promise.
Thanks to House Party and Thai Kitchen for providing the opportunity to “entertain.” This party was simply the chance for me to try their products and share them with my friends. I was under no obligation to blog, tweet, or otherwise. I just simply love Thai food and had a good time.