Holiday Parties -- future, present and past!

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Master Chef
Sep 4, 2004
Galena, IL
Give all the details of parties you are planning! What are you serving? what kind of party will it be? Family? Office? Friends? Neighbors?? All of the above? Tell about parties you have thrown in the past and what were your greatest successs and failures.
I will start out ... For over 20 years now I've thrown a tree-trimming party. It started out of home-sickness when I was military and wanted to bring back the fun of my childhood years when we did the tree up. Started inviting people to come help me do it. I learned over the years to get the tree up and lights in before guests arrived. I've thrown these parties from Hawaii to Galena to Viginia to Florida. Ironically, the participants have been Jewish, Moslem, athiest, Budhist, and any version of Christian you'd care to think of. Many guests bring ornaments. I ask a "fee" to come to my party, food for a local cause (there is a story to go with that which I will share on a separate thread). Every year, though, I have those moments of panic before the party. Tell me what you are planning this year, and I'll keep you up to date on what I'm planning right now. Let's get a party support network going!!
Hi Claire

The military seasonal parties were always the best, from th Mess ""Kid's Christmas Party" (funded by the "Cuss Can" and a few "minor" fundraisers or outright transfer of profits)...the rental of a really "fine" Santa Suit, with a long and lean Sgt Major, (appropriately "padded" to a Santa shape)...on one occaision made "convivial" somewhat "artificially", to where one "youngster", having received her gift, returned to "mama's" lap and stated, emphatically "Mommy, Santa Claus smells like RUM!" (Poor old Les, he died of the cancer some 20 years ago, and just loved it, "pocketful of gold" and all that the little ones would "bestow upon you"!)

The New Years Eve thrashes, followed by the New Years Day Levy's, the Moose Milk, the Clam Chowder (always "Manhatten", always made by the Pipe Major!), the hosting of friends, families, celebrities, and "messmates" in the very frigid temp's of the Cdn Prairies...

The early years of marriage, and blending personal friends, your new wife's friends, work associates, neighbours, etc, in a "gigantic" "at home" on one night, so carefully planned to work out with the "social calendar"!...and a milling throng of people through the modest house, and how to get them to "know" each other?

We instituted a "game", where, when a "guest" came through the door (we did the same to ourselves!), he/she reached into a bowl of "chits" with a "name" on it, and had it taped to his/her back, without being able to view it...

Some "names"..."Tom Thumb", "Lady Godiva", "Winston Churchill", "Mickey Mouse", "John Lennon" (okay, showing my age!)...anyways, you had to ask each other guest ONE question, and one question only....that could be answered by "YES or NO"...for instance, am I "male"..."Am I a fact as opposed "fictional" person"..."Am I still Alive" "Of this Century"...well you get the idea...and this was the very best "mixer" we ever encountered, as all were anxious to rid themselves of that hatefull chit from their backs, and so introduced themselves to any and all...

That's a night where chili buns pickles etc are the main meal (its not expensive!), and countless paper plates, plastic cups and eating irons are the rule of the day...a "punch" for the drinkers another that is "virgin" for the designated drivers...a bunch of beer (compliments chili!) and winding up to some "fun" games ala "mensa Club" to wind up the night...

Again, in the "early years" of marriage, where I'd be driving 100 KM on Christmas Day, from home to in-laws, to parents, to grandparents, back to inlaws for "early" dinner, back to parents for "late" dinner...and the year that siblings on both sides decided they wanted their own Christmas at we invited both sets of parents to our place for dinner, and the day...their first time of not cooking in many years...

As it turned out, the rest "chickened out" at the last minute, and sort of "appeared on our door step"...unfortunately, I wasn't that well off, nor that good a cook, to have laid in all the extras...out came the held back ham...but discovered that after a demand for French Toast at brunch...I was out of bread, so no "stuffing"!

I resourcefully used the "All Bran" with my remaining bits of bread to stuff the turkey, used all the potato's, every veggie in the house, etc...and managed to get through it, but leftovers were few and far between! Very fortunately, a "rich Aunt" who I love very dearly invited us to an "at-home" at her place on the 26th, so informed the wife and kids that the buffet was "supper"...just don't be too "obvious" about it...

On return to our empty fridge (well, at least on the 27th, I could buy groceries!), there were any number of calls from my somewhat obnoxious BIL, complaining that he had eaten three helpings of my "Bran Dressing" and had been "chained" to the "porcelain" for the past 18 hours, and whatever in the heck had I done to him...

I still feel "warm and fuzzy" over this memory, even if its over 20 years ago....


PS Claire...

Is this the sort of thing you had in mind?
i remember family parties when i was a young kid in the late 60's, early 70's. drinks were called high-balls. everyone smoked. all the women had giant hair, bright red lipstick, neon colored dresses, and pearls to match the gloves, shoes, and purse. the men were in stylish, neat-fitting suits with thin ties, or v-necked sweaters over turtlenecks, sharply pressed slacks and shiny shoes, gaudy pinky rings, hair slicked back with brylcreem, cigarette or cigar in one hand, a glass of scotch being stirred by the forefinger in the other hand. there was always great jazz or big band on the turntable, and giant plates of rolled up cold cuts, pickles and olives, breads, cheeses, little baked appetizers like pigs in a blanket, on the dining room table. us kids would steal cold cuts to feed to the dog until she threw up.
huge cars with chrome bumpers and hub caps would pull up, jamming the driveway, delivering another load of relatives, presents, and the rush of cold air into the house announcing someone else had arrived. we re-established loyalties with cousins of similar age, and ran around between these big legs, and dodged under the kitchen table, or down into the basement, avoiding the older sibling we had teased until they finally cracked and came after us. my uncles would argue about the jets and giants, y.a tittle v.s. broadway joe. then they'd talk golf, or cars or something grown up. the ladies were in the kitchen, constantly preparing some new dish, with huge bursts of laughter that shook the house every once in a while. someone's dad did something dumb or embarassing, and the news was out.
man, those were great days. we would wade through chest deep piles of spent wrapping paper to find more presents. when all of the presents were opened, and all the new toys tried out, and all the food eaten, and the house mom spent days cleaning and yelling at us to keep it that way was completely messed up, we knew it was getting close to the end. we eventually got hunted down by mom and dad and were forced to kiss all of our aunts goodbye, and give a manly handshake (then a loving hug) to our uncles. we also had to say goodbye to our newest and bestest friends, our cousins, and wished we could all go home together.
going to bed that night was to be fought with every ounce of strength left in our little bodies. we were on a sugar/new toy/too much fun kinda high, and didn't want it to end. but, after dad tucked us in, and called mom away from the kitchen sink to do the same, we drifted off into a deep, deep sleep, only a child, well fed and loved, could do.

wow, sorry to ramble a bit, but thanks for the thread claire. typing this out brought back such great memories...
Wow, I identify with so many of these memories that I can't even begin to think what I could add!

The only one I can think of that is slightly different is a New Year's Eve party my parents threw one year. They had so many children they usually didn't entertain much, so this was a special deal. The 6 or 7 or 8 of us at that time (can't remember) were fed some quick meal like spaghetti or fish sticks and whisked off the bed as soon as possible. Then the hi-fi, as it was called in those days, got cranked up. At first it was the usual big band and jazz stuff my dad always had going, and then the doorbell started ringing.

Pretty soon, the noise downstairs got louder -- and the music too. We couldn't believe that there were that many adults in our living room at the same time. Ears pricked like deer, we listened to each voice coming thru the front door, trying to identify who it was. A neighbor? A friend from church? Another pilot? We peeked downstairs and saw the ladies we usually viewed with curlers in their hair and a baby on their hip all decked out in their holiday finest and the dads of our friends wearing shiny shoes and ties they didn't wear walking home from the train.

Chubby Checker had just released his first album, so of course on to the hi-fi it went, all the grownups started doing the Twist (must have been close to midnight by this time). This mass activity produced a trembling and shaking and out-and-out "ruckusing" of every single beam and rafter in the house, for there was no sleeping for the children then. I thought the house was gonna fall in, and we would be discovered peeping around the corner when the staircase fell in.
For our office Christmas Party we are having ham, prime rib, stuffed squash, mixed green salad, winter veggies, twice baked potato casserole, minestrone soup, kahlua torte, white chocolate frangelica raspberry cheesecake, berry cobbler, and coffee and punch. We usually have everyone bring appetizers and BYOB.

Our office parties are always child and adult orientated. We have Santa and games for the kids. We have a gift exchange for the adults. We raffle off prizes.

The past two years it has rained or snowed alot and the power has gone out both times for at least two hours. Everyone just bought all their flashlights and lanterns and partied on. Last year the winds were so high that some of my coworkers had to have their houses reroofed.

This years party is next weekend and the weather is forecasted to be good. Fingers crossed. I hope that you all have fun at your parties and family get togethers.

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