Tag: entertaining

The ghosts of turkeys past

The holiday has me reminiscing about Thanksgivings past. For the last few years, we’ve celebrated quietly at home. I find it a relaxing alternative to some of the holidays we’ve celebrated.

The first Thanksgiving I hosted, with my two roommates, was an unqualified disaster. After suffering through the anxiety of preparing a turkey for the first time (and neglecting, out of ignorance, to remove the plastic bags full of innards from the interior before we cooked it), we discovered that the plumbing in the upstairs bathroom of our townhouse was leaking. The result? A huge, water-filled plaster bubble forming right over – you guessed it – the dining room table.

imageA few years later, my then-new husband and I hosted Thanksgiving for a few transplants who, like us, could not make it “home” for the holidays. My much-beloved but chronically late sister was in charge of appetizers. I had stocked up on wine and beer but had no back-up snacks. By the time she arrived, my guests were, shall we say, slightly more basted than the bird. Attempts to carve said bird resulted in a scene so brutal we probably could have been picketed by animal activists.

Fast forward a few years. Because Christmas was on a Wednesday my family was unable to gather for that holiday. In my infinite wisdom, I invited them all to our home for the earlier holiday, suggesting we celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday and “Christmas” together on Saturday. Thus began perhaps the wildest holiday weekend of all time – a huge feast followed by tree trimming, gift shopping, wrapping and celebrating again in the space of a couple of days. If you find it hard to prepare for Christmas in the four weeks that follow Thanksgiving try doing it in 48 hours.

When our first two kids were young and I was still working full-time out of the home, I found it hard to prepare for Thanksgiving at all. This included actually purchasing a turkey. One year, by the time I got to the store late on Wednesday there was nothing but tiny birds left. I actually considered cooking two until I snapped out of it. The next year, determined to get to the store earlier, I did the exact same thing, only this time the smallest bird I could buy was 18 pounds. All this for a house that contained two adults and two toddlers who hadn’t eaten more than a teaspoon full of food at one meal ever. I’ve never been able to decide which was worse (read Help me solve my turkey dilemma).

The best I can say about these Thanksgivings is at least I put food on the table (as supported by my post about the Christmas that almost wasn’t). But this year I’m going to do it right. Now if I could just find that shopping list…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy (and pay homage to) your bird.

How to procrastinate in 10 easy missteps

We had friends to dinner this weekend and while I love to entertain, it means I have to do  detestable things like vacuum and go to the grocery store on a Saturday. So I did what any experienced procrastinator would do – everything but what was on my list.

In case you are not a natural procrastinator, here are some things you can do to suck time out of your day:

  1. Pick up the newspaper. Read the whole thing, even the Saturday business page.
  2. Pick up the phone when it rings and talk for a very long time.
  3. Make tapioca pudding for breakfast. Bonus for this one – because it has to cool you get to procrastinate twice, once when you assemble it and once, later, to eat it.
  4. Wash your hair even though you are headed to the gym in the afternoon.
  5. Check email frequently because, as you know, you receive many meaningful work-related emails on Saturday.
  6. Browse a few million websites on how to assemble a perfect antipasto.
  7. Engage in spontaneous discussion with daughter about what color you might paint her room. Actually pull out paint swatches and tape them to the wall. (Daughter is Junior Champion procrastinator in her own right.)
  8. Spend an unwarranted amount of time deciding which dinner napkins to use.
  9. Clean out the refrigerator.
  10. Blog about procrastinating.

And thus went my day so that even though I had ample time to prepare, I was still pressed for time as dinner approached. Perhaps the saddest thing of all – I didn’t publish this post until Sunday. In other words, I even managed to put off my procrastinating.

(By the way, in case you’re wondering, I would say my antipasto platter was merely average.)

Professional procrastinator or rank amateur? What’s your best procrastinating technique?

Last ditch tips for entertaining

Just in time for the weekend, my shortcuts for entertaining. I love to entertain but I sometimes commit to more than I can reasonably pull off.  Here are my rules for those times when guests are on their way and you’re running out of time.

  • Dress blues. Get yourself ready first. People will stand about and chat with you while you prepare food or set out snacks. They will be less inclined to visit with you if you’re still in the shower when they arrive.
  • Quick pick-me-up: Get a large laundry basket. Load all loose items and detritus into it and stow it in a room your guests won’t be in. If necessary, get two baskets.
  • Clean sweep: From my friend, Liz Truesdale-Witek, clean your bathroom. If that’s clean, your guests will assume the rest of the house is clean.
  • No whining: If you’re low on wine (or you’re down to the $3 a bottle good-enough-for-us wine), make sangria. You can throw darn near any fruit or juice you have in the fridge in there and it will taste fine.
  • Food for thought: Serve food the guests can assemble themselves – sandwiches, tacos, build-your-own pizza, or a pasta bar. It saves a whole step in food preparation and everyone gets to choose something they’ll actually eat.
  • Just desserts: If you have some time, buy a gallon of good-quality vanilla ice cream and make Martha Stewart’s Cherry-Almond Brownies – they taste like you expended more effort than you did. If you have little time, skip the brownies and just buy the ice cream. If you have no time, serve a lot of wine and no one will notice there’s no dessert.

And one last note – If I’m still trying to pull together food and arrangements, I have the kids meet guests at the door, take their coats, and escort them in. The kids like to do this and it seems to give guests the impression (at least temporarily) that they are well-behaved.

Have any other tips we can share? Post your comments or send them to sarah@dayonebusinessservices.com – I’d invite the “owner” of the best tip for dinner, but I’m guessing that by now that does not have much allure.

Next up: Shortcuts for household chores. Yippee!