Friday, January 04, 2008

Regrets Only, Please

I have already accomplished my New Year's Resolution, which was to get the all confetti off our floors. It took the Roomba and the regular vacuum more than two hours. From the glittery bits of cellophane spread over every single square inch of the downstairs and tracked up the stairs as well, you'd think we had a wild old time here chasing out that crazy 2007.

In reality, we were playing Settlers of Catan with another couple when the old year gasped and expired. We did pause from building roads and cities long enough to drink a champagne toast and reply to friends who texted us felicitations.

We had planned a party for friends with children, the idea being that we could feed the kids some tater tots, let them drink kiddie cocktails and throw confetti, then all put our kids to bed and bring out the champagne and fancy food. Five families with a cumulative 9 kids had confirmed as of Dec. 30. But last-minute calamities got in the way and we ended up having a lovely evening with four good friends and one extra baby, and enjoying a whole lot of leftover party food the next day.

By then, the house had gone through an filthy/clean/filthy/tryin' to get clean cycle that would put to shame a celebutant with Promises on speed dial. Saturday, we came back from a week of Christmas to find a home that had been ransacked -- by us -- on Christmas morning. Sunday we spent power-unpacking, de-treeing, present-put-awaying, decluttering, list-making and shopping in preparation for a New Year's Eve party we were throwing.

Monday, New Year's Eve, was spent keeping the kids out of the way of the cleaning lady, strategizing over who might need an extra pack n play and who would sleep where. And cooking. And cleaning up the messes inflicted by Nutmeg and Pebbles on the now-clean house.

Nutmeg was running around in a frenzy of excitement about the kids party. Yet she took it very well when I broke it to her that none of the kids were coming. The kids' food was spread out on the coffee table, the noisemakers and confetti at the ready. I checked my voice mail and found out that snow in Kenosha was preventing the two couples bringing most of the kids from making it. The other couple, who did come, had left their kid with Grandma. We had already warned her that one of her friends would most likely not be there due to viral pink eye.

"Nutmeg," I said, "Guess what? You get to have all the kiddie cocktails, and all the confetti." She was just fine with that and spent the next half hour or so throwing confetti. "It's raining shine!" she said as it fell into her hair.

The adults were also only too glad to snarf down the kids' appetizers, because who wants to eat brie en croute and shrimp when you can have pigs in blankets and tater tots? Fortunately, I was able to make the leftover shrimp into some pretty good hot and sour soup the next day.

As for our entertaining record, it never seems to fail that if we plan an get-together with several couples, we end up with one or two couples max. I think back in San Francisco we once even had a party that absolutely no one showed up to. Back then we blamed it on California flakiness but here I guess it's the combination between inviting people with kids and the geographic distance we're spread over. When a single person cancels, it doesn't affect your plans much, but when a family of 5 cancels, it does. This time, we had two cancellations due to snow and one due to exhaustion (7-week-old baby, mom just returned to work and oh by the way their building burned down shortly after the baby was born).

I certainly can't be mad at any of our friends for canceling, even at the last minute. What, did I want them to endanger their families by forging on madly through flying snow? Of course not. And far be it from me to tell the exhausted mother of a 7-week-old to party when she could be sleeping. If my experience is any guide, she's in for the most demanding 5 weeks of her life.

We were New Year's Eve cancellers ourselves last year, because even though we snagged a sitter, Epu came down with a bad cold. Being 9 months pregnant, I was only too happy to fall asleep in front of the TV at 10:30 last year.

But our record of cooking for a dozen and actually feeding only four seems regretfully solid. I don't know if we should change our strategy or just accept that this is the way it is. You just know that if you start underpreparing for parties, say, cooking for six when 12 people have RSVP'd, you're going to end up with a full house of hungry people eyeing that last bacon wrapped tater tot on the platter.

We used to have bigger parties, where you'd always end up having a decent turn-out because you'd invited 40 people. But I'd end up not getting a chance to talk to people and feeling too harried, so we cut down the size of our parties, asking over just a few people at a time. But it seems to never fail with smaller parties that I find out -- after the food is out or in the oven -- that the turnout is going to be dramatically smaller than expected. I'd hate to cut back on entertaining because a) it's cheaper than going out, b) you don't have to get a babysitter and c) it's fun.

Of course, we ended up having a lovely evening and having plenty of time to spend time with the two couples who came. They both live sort of far away so we don't get to see them enough. At first, I felt like I had wasted a lot of money planning a party for a much bigger group, but most of the food and drink I bought will get used. Pebbles' first birthday is coming up next month, and with all the champagne we have on hand, I'm thinking brunch with mimosas. For the adults, silly.

Unfortunately for future guests at our home, the pitcher of lemon drop martinis could not be saved. So I did the grim duty of sugaring the rim of one of the fancy glasses and dispatching it. No regrets there, except for perhaps this one: I think a lot of the vodka evaporated overnight, because I'm pretty sure that after three lemon drops, you're supposed to have a buzz.


Bert said...

Well, I certainly would have been there! Perhaps, if you moved back to San Francisco, we could attend your parties, too!

Whenever I pass your old street (and it happens quite often), I feel the urge to stop in and say "hi". I don't know if the people who currently live there would appreciate it very much.

Sara said...

Well, as one half of one of the couples that had the opportunity to celebrate new year's eve with you guys, I am very happy that we braved the elements to come to the fiesta. We had a great time and you guys were fantastic hosts.

Had I known there were leftover lemon drop martinis, I could have helped you polish them off at breakfast on New Year's!!!

Thanks was a blast!

Kori said...

Awh, man, I feel terrible that we were sidelined with pink eye. What does not make me feel terrible? Knowing I did not expose you and yours to the horrible plague currently living in my sinuses.

Mike's favorite game is Settlers, BTW, so you know he was hurting when he read this.

Carrie said...

Kori, I was thinking the same thing when i read your blog this week -- we dodged that bullet! lol. I hereby award your family with the best reasons for not attending, and I must tell you that the field was very competitive.