November 30, 2022

One of the displays when I entered the big box store was rows of crock pots and it reminded me, we are entering what for many becomes the “party season” as we approach Christmas.  When I was growing up my parents hosted a party on different nights during the week to allow all the people where dad worked to attend.  This involved nearly 100 people and mom would prepare cookies for months in advance.  I continued this tradition at my own work until I retired.  At first the party consisted of finger foods, but as I aged, I became bolder with my offerings.  Each year I would select a different style for the food I prepared (Mexican, Asian, Seafood, etc.).  That also meant I needed to collect a variety of serving dishes (theme decorated, tiered displays, platters, etc.) and containers (crock pots, warmers, ice buckets, etc.) to display the dozen or more dishes I offered.  I now have two shelving units with the dozens of items that used to be on display at my Christmas party.

When I looked online, I found a variety of websites touting different ways you can create a unique theme for your Christmas party.  These ideas ranged from an ugly Christmas sweater party to kid-friendly Christmas crafts to classic winter wonderlands is on the table.  The perfect party begins with the invitations.  While invitations to a small party with family or close friends can be delivered orally, a more elegant approach is written invitations requesting RSVP (also available online).  While Christmas (and your decorations) can be the theme for the party, it was suggested you might get inspired by your favorite movie or transport your party (figuratively) to a whole new region of the world.  You can have a family-friendly party, an adults-only party, or a funny party.  The possibilities are as wide as your imagination, and your willingness to make the required preparations.

After my son graduated from college, he was able to join me several times at my annual Christmas party.  I recall one party I gave that had a seafood theme.  One of the buffet dishes was a smoked salmon fillet I had placed on a silver platter along with small serving forks.  One of the guests saw the dish and asked if it had been cooked.  I told them it had been smoked, so it did not need to be heated.  She spent the rest of the party telling other guests not to eat the salmon because it had not been cooked.  This concerned my son, and he went behind her letting the guests know the salmon was not raw but was smoked.  Difficulty can arise when you serve types of party food that are different than what your guests are accustomed to.  I served these dishes to provide something else than the meat and potato meals my guests normally ate.  Some tried the dishes, others did not.

THOUGHTS:  When I was in Paris, I took the opportunity to sample a dish I had often heard of but had never tried, escargot (snails).  They were served swimming in garlic and butter along with small forks to dig them out of their shell.  Once I got beyond the thought of eating what appeared to be a fat worm, I found them to be excellent (who could go wrong with garlic and butter, right?).  No one else at the table accepted my invitation to eat a snail.  Someone else’s party can be an occasion to try dishes that may be common to them but new to you, especially if it is a buffet.  A buffet means you can taste and eat the dish if it is good or leave it on your plate if you do not like it.  Regardless, you should remember the time and trouble your host has taken to provide you with this tasting occasion.  Being a gracious guest is every bit as important as being a gracious host.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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