I need to step it up

Helpme host you.ANYTIPS

I need to step up.  Not in an angsty dancy way.  I’m talking about my hosting game.  I need to kick it up a notch.  (BAM.)

Last weekend we received an invitation for an impromptu get-together.  Sure, I like people.  Less cooking.  Wins all around.  We had a fantastic time.  I couldn’t help but be impressed by their effortless hosting.  Would you like some fresh-squeezed juice in your prosecco?  How about some freshly-baked cookies?  Care to sample one of these delicious cheeses?  (This is not blogging hyperbole.  All of that happened.)  It was pretty awesome.

Other friends here are equally generous.  One of my friends makes kick ass frappuccinos every time I come over.  And offers us homemade baked goods.  Another friend opens 15 euro bottles of wine when we come over.  “Are you sure you want to waste the good wine on us?” I always think.  We did a potluck lunch at a friend’s.  I had a sorry-looking apple, cheese, and meat tray.  Others brought scrumptious quiches with made-from-scratch crusts and fresh-from-the-oven bread.  Why can’t I get my act together?

I actually adore hosting.  The proximity of people here lends itself to more casual popping-by opportunities.  But if you stopped by now, I could offer you one of the three bottles of wine in the house (not always the case), stale cookies, or a cut-up apple.  The hands-down best food I make is popcorn, but this is not great for dates with small kids.  I do have Halloween candy in the house, but that is not usually the case.  I may have a secret bag of potato chips still.  But I have no delicious cheeses.  I didn’t even bring the juicer with us.

So what is holding me back from being the hostess with the mostest?  Part of it is the difficulty of acquiring enough food just to feed the fam.  We make a few trips a week to the grocery store or market for food.  I can only bring home as much as I can carry and cram under the stroller.  I did make a solo trip to the store on a recent evening after James got home.  It was a delightfully calm experience.  I may have to do more of this.

Another issue is my proclivity to eat any treats that are lying around.  I can usually be trusted for a day.  Maybe a few days.  But then something happens and I EAT EVERYTHING.  This is a big reason I don’t bake.  Besides my dislike for measuring ingredients (a crucial piece of baking, James keeps reminding me), I don’t need to polish off a tray of cookies in one sitting.  I will engage in twisted logic like, well, I should eat all of them now so they won’t be around tempting me later.  Better to get them out of the way.  I know.  I’m not proud to tell you that there is hidden chocolate in our house right now.  It’s not hiding from the kids.  James hid it from me.  In his defense I asked him to.  When we got the nice chocolate, I didn’t want to gobble it all up in a day.  Having him put it out of my reach seemed like a good solution.  It is working.  So far.  (WHY CAN’T I FIND IT??  Our place is NOT that big!!)

Also, I don’t like extra stuff around.  It just gets in the way, and you have to clean it and take care of it.  BUT hosting requires a certain amount of stuff.  Enough glassware for the group.  Serving dishes.  Things like that.  I did have some of this stuff back home.  Probably not enough, but I had some.  Some of it is not here by design, like the china and crystal.  Some of it I thought was coming, but it apparently did not.  My favorite trays apparently were sent to storage instead of coming here.  (I hope storage anyway.)  Either way, I’m a little understaffed now.

And.  But.  And.  I hate to admit this.  I really hate that I feel this way.  But there is that teeny tiny part of me that sometimes–just sometimes–wants to hoard the good stuff.  This is usually not an issue.  I promise.  I really do want to share.  But if I have the super special chocolate, my first thought is probably to tuck it away instead of offering it up.  This is the reason I have decorative stickers from my childhood that were never used and unopened shower gel that was thrown away after a decade or so.  Which is dumb.  No way to live really.  My takeaway from those unused special things is to carpe diem.  Seize and share the good chocolate!  Bring out the good wine!  I swear.  But old habits die hard, and just every now and then I don’t want to share.  You guys never feel like this?  Ok, never mind, I’m a terrible person, carry on.

I’m hoping to have many happy get-togethers with many people over the next three years.  Here is my three-point attack plan.

  1. Assess the serving ware situation and buy more of anything that is needed.  When we came here with less, we planned on having a settling up account if you will.  We figured we could always buy something if we decided we needed it.  I need to decide I need these things.
  2. Stock a special shelf or drawer or something with snacks for guests.  I can’t stockpile nice cheeses, but I can tuck away some good chips, crackers, or sweets.  “But you say you can’t be trusted,” you protest.  I know, I know.  I will just have to try.  I want to be a good hostess more than I want to snack.  Most of the time.
  3. Develop some signature dishes–other than popcorn–that I can put together.  They may not be baked, although I do want to do more baking with Henry.  They may not be fancy.  I don’t know what they are, but this is a goal.

Some people put together amazing Pinterest-worthy parties.  Katie Bower recently put together a gorgeous Seuss-themed vacation planning party.  I very sincerely say good for her.  If I get invited to any parties like that, I’ll just focus on enjoying it.  That’s not the level I’m going for here though.  I just want my guests to enjoy themselves.

Internets, can you offer me any guidance?  Any hosting tips?  Any idiot-proof dishes I can make with two kids underfoot?  Please, internets, help me!


2 thoughts on “I need to step it up

  1. Maggie says:

    My black eyed pea salad recipe is on the way to your inbox. This isn’t really the season for it, but it is one of those simple things that is way more than the sum of its parts. It always gets excellent reviews, and as an added bonus it is reasonably healthy.

    If I notice anything else exciting on my way through my recipe folder, I’ll send that along too.

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks! I’ll have to make this for my dad some day as well. That guy loves black eyed peas so much he asked for them in the hospital when he was a kid. He could have asked for pudding or jello or anything, but he wanted black eyed peas.

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