This year, we decided to have a tapas Christmas party. Allow me to clarify: I said a TAPAS party, not a TOPLESS party, much to the chagrin of no fewer than 3 people who “heard” otherwise. While it’s true that things got a little crazy when we started playing the Game of Things, everyone managed to keep their shirts on and, I hope, had a good time. I certainly did.
I had a little anxiety going into this party, because usually when we have people over, there’s a very specific reason or event, giving us a main task aside from just talking/eating/drinking/being merry. Case in point: football watching parties,
Chloe says War Eagle?
the LOST finale party (where we encouraged guests to dress up as a character from LOST and I made fish biscuits)
(obviously, we’re Kate and Ben)
and the epic Rock Band Party of 2008 where you had to dress up as a rock star to come play.
If you look really hard in that one up there, you can see one of our “groupies” in the back attempting to take off his shirt & give to the band
That’s my alter-ego, LBDiva, with K-Biz (Kid Rock’s cousin)
But Saturday was just a legitimate get-together. No dressing up. No crazy theme. Just tapas & Christmas. The task-oriented part of me started to freak out when I realized this. Is it possible to just have people over for no specific reason (other than food & wine)? Could I really be laid-back for a whole night & just enjoy some excellent company & conversation? Give my friends who didn’t know each other a chance to socialize with other cool people and make new friends? The answer was yes, because my friends just so happen to be the most awesome people on the planet.
Since it was finals week, I spent a good deal of time obsessing over anything but finals, grades, and work, and instead planned out an ambitious menu & bought Christmas decorations. Yes – you read that correctly – I decorated for Christmas.
Another great thing about this party was that our friends, who are all fantastic cooks, brought lots of treats to share and supplemented my small plates. For example, I wish I’d taken a picture of Kevin’s cranberry orange cake which was beautiful AND delicious (seriously; it looked like something out of a magazine and tasted divine. That man’s got some serious cake skills). But, once people started showing up, I went into “hostess” mode and completely spaced on taking pictures of all my food, as I originally intended to do. So you’ll just have to use your imagination to figure out what this looked like. Here are a few things I whipped up to serve:
Flatbread with caramelized onions, roasted garlic, feta & bacon
Flatbread with proscuitto, figs & goat cheese
(me making the flatbreads. I really just wanted an excuse to wear my new apron!)
Steak & chicken skewers (cheated; store bought from Harry’s)
Chipotle & Rosemary Spiced Nuts (good thing I watched the Barefoot Contessa cocktail party special the morning of the party & picked up this little gem, they were addictive & tasty!)
Cheese tray with brie, goat & gouda cheeses
Zuccini & onion frittata with gruyere
French bread with balsamic dipping sauce
White bean dip with pita chips
Triple Chocolate Brownies (a party staple at my house)
Whitney & Brian, hard at work
table full of fun!
Formose closely supervised Chris & Travice’s work
We had some beautifully decorated cookies in the contest, but Brian ended up winning. I’m not at liberty to discuss the details of the story he told in sugar cookies & gingerbread men. So, let’s just say he was exceptionally creative in designing an artistic representation of a captivating story I’d told earlier in the night. His multi-cookie, “real life” scenario was the unanimous winner.
Other fun happenings of note:
* I nearly knocked Kevin’s cake out of his hands when he walked in the door. I’m that clumsy, and I was also that excited to see him. We probably both would’ve cried if that had happened.
* Dr. Jones led a very informative, impromptu bourbon tasting event for a few guests. I knew the man loved his bourbon and knew a lot about it, but little did I know he can offer a historical, social & foodie perspective on pretty much all bourbons, on the fly, with no prior preparation. I’m pretty sure he would be an excellent docent on the bourbon trail.
Kevin, Dave & Genay, probably talking about bourbon or football or Kevin’s tasty cake
* A cluster of my guests somehow got into a discussion about extreme couponing, which led me to show off my own coupon collection, in a little organized file box that I set up when I got my first apartment in 2003. I think they were secretly impressed. So, come to a party at my house; I’ll show you my coupon collection. That’s totally normal, right?
* Lee & Genay bonded over Paul Finebaum (excuse me: PAAWWWLLL Finebaum)
* Whitney & I went all kinds of ADPi & did a “sorority squat” picture (and she brought me the most precious little lion body pouf from Pier 1 – I heart Alphie and her!)
* Lindsey tried to talk me into going to the Chick-fil-A bowl on New Year’s Eve. I’m pretty sure I agreed, and I’m pretty sure she knew I would, because (a) it’s hard for me to turn down a $35 Auburn game in Atlanta and (b) whenever either of us wants to talk someone into going to a game/traveling/attending something, we wait until they’ve had a couple of drinks – the answer is never “no” in those circumstances. I totally fell for our trick!
Lindsey & Darcey!
* Jay & I realized that we keep turning down each other’s invitations to go to the other’s spin classes because we are extremely loyal to our favorite spin instructors and don’t want to cheat on them
* Speaking of spin instructors, mine was in attendance! So Chris & I made quite possibly the most epic spin class mix ever that we used in class the next morning (and I now have a new fun distraction: make spin class playlists! Who knew the gang on Sundays at 9:15 liked 80s pop as much as I do?)
* My pals from Rome showed up and got thrown into playing the Game of Things, which means they learned a lot about a lot of people in a short amount of time (but they had great stories about another party they’d been to earlier in the night)
And, on a serious note/at the risk of sounding completely corny, the best thing about the party was being surrounded by people I love dearly. I’m not sure what I did to deserve such amazing people as friends, but I’m incredibly lucky to have so many fun, outgoing, friendly people in my life. I’ve come to realize that one of the most important things in this life is to be surrounded by good people, and Saturday reminded me of just how many wonderful people I know! This was a highlight of my holiday season, and I’m so thankful that everyone came to eat, drink & be merry for a while.
I hope that all of you, dear readers, enjoy your holidays! Thanks for reading. See y’all in January!