Lesson in Entertaining from a guests view
I had friends throw a party recently. After months of offering help when I had the time they called me three days before in a panic. I was out of town on vacation due to arrive home the day of their party.
The host decided to cook for all 75 guests that would be attending their party.
The host also decided to buy all the china and silverware for the party.
They had out of town family that they had not seen in years and for two days prior to the party they were all (the visiting family) permanent fixtures in the kitchen b/c the host needed help chopping and mixing and preparing food.
The host did not rent linens, glassware or get help until two days prior to the event. They hired a caterer that in their minds would just reheat their food. Well, not all catering companies specialize in reheating. They are good at cooking and serving their own food more so because they know their timing. Not someone elses. It wasn't a total disaster or anything. But, you could tell they were out of their element. I felt bad for them because they were frustrated and they didn't like that their name was printed on their shirts! You could tell.
The buffet was set-up in the dining room. Because the hosts never entertain they didn't realize that the table didn't need to be extended with three leaves. They could have stacked dishes on crates (hidden under linens) and done a much smaller table that was easier to maneuver around. You know like a tablescape.
They also set up the dishes where you had to walk past the table then come back and get in line for food. The flow was horrible.
Instead of spending 45 to 60 dollars on renting good silverware they bought it at Wal-mart. The tongs were so dull that you couldn't even pick up lettuce with it. Now they also get to store that silverware and the 84 place settings of dishes they ended up with (which includes sugar and creamer and serving bowls in each set) So they have 7 of all the serving pieces. Again for the money they could have rented high end.
Oh and the best comment was that it took them nine hours to wash all the dishes. No kidding! That's why renting is worth it sometimes. To spend a work day washing dishes is a waste of your day in my opinion. But, they also waited until two days before the party. When they had a list of items to shop for and start prepping for meal wise.
Because they were in a frenzy they forgot flowers. This was a big party for their daughters birth/dedication and also a celebration of their new house and a business. So imagine a dining table that was flat, big, and lined up with food on a dull white cloth that didn't even have a candle or a flower. Flowers are not the end of the world obviously. But, I know they regretted not just ordering them and having them delivered if nothing else.
At one point during the party I looked up to see the host who was still in jeans and a ratty t-shirt (it was a cocktail attire party) peppering dishes of food and adding olive oil. Clearly she wanted the food to taste good. But, at some point it's time to mingle and enjoy your guests. It doesn't make for a fun party when guests watch the host running around. She ran out of time getting so much ready herself she never got to change. It was sad because they have her in jeans and her husband in shorts in family photos where everyone is in shirts, ties, and dresses.
I can't get on my soapbox enough about the topic of cooking for a large crowd. It's not always easy. If you are not skilled with time management then it's not something that should be done. Also, I truly felt that my friend wanted everyone to walk away saying how awesome her food was. Secretly I think she wanted validation for her cooking. Which we all know she is a good cook. I wish she had handed over the recipes to the catering company and let them prepare the meal.
I felt bad for them in the end because they didn't
a. enjoy their party
b. visit with guests enough. Some guests flew in for this party.
c. have a party where their guests walked away saying how much fun it was. As a guest I think we all took on the stress of seeing the hosts running around.
In the end hot dogs and hamburgers would have been better if it meant a relaxing party. Even the bar was ridiculous b/c they insisted on making sangria themselves. All night they kept going out to the bartender adding sugar or whatever else they thought it needed.
I wanted to share. I know some of the people that post on here will probably recognize what went wrong and what could have been better.
But, to make it clear as a guest I as well as my husband were the perfect guests. We mingled. We raved over the food. We never once gave a clue that we were dying inside for our friends wishing that we could do something. But, after an initial "Is there anything we can do to help" (after doing what I could for two days from vacation and arriving home to help that day) we were told to go and enjoy ourselves. We were guests we were told. So we did so.
I hope this will serve as a guide or make people think next time we have a post on here where someone that doesn't entertain at all posts that they want to host a backyard soiree!