Hostess in Labor
The mother-to-be isn’t the only one who will be in labor. As the hostess, you will be in labor, too—“party labor.” Unlike the expectant mommy who doesn’t yet know how long her labor will be, the hostess will be in labor for days, even weeks.
The good news is that you can be in control of yours— with a little preplanning. As you read through the ideas in this book, remember to balance the details of the party the same way you balance the flavors in the recipes.
If your party is heavy on the decorations, go light on the food preparations. A complicated menu may work best with a less involved theme. Don’t discount the time and labor you will expend getting your house, your table, and yourself ready for your shindig.
Plan for prep time. Choose recipes that can be prepared a day or two ahead. You cannot spend the day of the shower in the kitchen chopping, braising, or sautéing. The only kitchen activities should be heating, plattering, and garnishing. And you should enlist extra helping hands for last-minute food details. When guests arrive, you shouldn’t be in the shower; you must be at the shower, in all your glory.
Serving temperature. Choose foods that are delicious both hot and at room temperature. Salmon is the chef’s choice at large functions because it maintains its flavor whether hot off the grill or cooled down. Avoid choosing foods that spoil easily, especially if your party is scheduled for a hot-weather season.
Plan for clean up. When the party’s over, the task of cleaning up can be daunting, particularly in the kitchen. Do yourself a favor and enlist some help, either volunteer or paid, to assist you in getting things back in order. When you are having a crowd, even one paid staffer will make an enormous difference.
Test the recipes. Leave nothing to chance—test your recipes. Have a trial run (or two) on your family before you whip up something for a crowd. This will allow you to fine-tune the flavor, bone-up on the techniques, and work out the flaws in timing and serving. The run-through will also give you a chance to prepare mentally for the party.
If you are a co-hostess who has offered to bring a food item to the shower, come prepared by bringing your own food station! Bring EVERYTHING you will need to cut, slice, garnish, and present your offering, from paring knife to platter. Once it is ready to be served, pack up your equipment and supplies and move them out of sight. You will win the heart of the hostess.
There is no law that says the hostess must prepare all the food from scratch. There is also no prize to the hostess who does. So simplify whenever you can. Grocery stores now have a range of prepared dishes that are tasty, cost effective, and finished. From shrimp platters to deli trays, cookies, cakes, salads, and more—you can order everything ahead or supplement what you don’t have the time or inclination to make yourself.