fancy dinner party

Five Steps to Perfect Fancy Dinner Party Timing

Fancy dinner party timing can be a real hassle. Last week I talked about the basics of hosting your party, but if you want it to be successful and not pull your hair out, you will need to be a timing pro. You’ll want to write things down. I mean with a pen and paper. Do you remember those? You probably have some in a drawer somewhere. You may glance at them every once in awhile and think of throwing them out, but you never do. And now, vindication! You can use them! I know you’re wondering why someone who frequently talks about her automated to-do list suggests paper, but think about this. You’re going to be cooking all day. Your hands are going to be gross. Do you really want to constantly check your iPad or Galaxy or whatever gizmo you have?

time to write our your fancy dinner party timing
This is what paper and writing utensils look like.

That’s not to say you won’t need your gizmo – you probably will, unless you are a recipe printer. I’m not. But it’s just easier to have a piece of paper stuck on the fridge or taped somewhere when you only need to do a quick glance. Memorize it if you prefer, but you risk a really long gap between meals, or something burning, if you don’t. So, there’s that little tidbit of advice. Now let’s talk about the good stuff. I do have a Disney-themed fancy dinner party coming up, but I’m going to use last year’s French menu as an example for now. Feel free to steal it.

How to Plan your Fancy Dinner Party Timing

1. Pick when the guests will arrive.

Oh hey! Guests! When should they show up? You might think this should be the least of your concerns, but unless your friends love last minute invitations, you’re going to want to give them a heads up at least two weeks in advance. If you have an event with a dress code, make sure you give them time to prepare. They might also want to get a baby-sitter. I have no problem hosting kids at my dinner parties (they eat pizza), but I can’t watch them, not even my own. I also serve a lot of wine. My friends know this, so they don’t always want to drag the kids along. Maybe you don’t want kids there at all so you ban them. Whatever, it’s your party.

The reason this makes a difference in your timing is that once you send out those invitations, your start time is set. Now you know exactly how much time you have to get things done. Personally, I like to invite my guests to show up at 6:30 P.M. Most of them will be there by 6:45, and all of them will be there by 7:00, even the perpetually late ones. I will have the appetizers ready by 6:30, 6:35 tops. I will also be dressed, the table will be set, and the kitchen will be as cleaned up as it can be (the rest of the house will be clean, but I won’t do that – the hubby will). Anything else may or may not be prepared, but at least I have a goal time.

2. Write out your menu with active time & cooking time separated.

This is probably the most important step if you want to get your courses out at different intervals. Actually, if it’s your first time, you might need this step just to get everything completed before the guests show up. You may think you’re a great prepper, but you will find out otherwise if you’re trying to put together an entire salad while your guests are waiting on you. They may not notice – serve enough wine, they probably won’t notice – but you don’t want to be serving the last course at 11:00 at night. So, as soon as your menu is set, go ahead and write out this part.

My handwriting is strangely similar to the Excel font.

You may remember last week I said to practice practice practice. I hope you did! Sometimes when you use a recipe the timing will be completely off. Whoever wrote it may be able to make their cheesecake in ten minutes, but I sure can’t! The ones I find are the worst are vegetable-heavy recipes. These cookbook writers are obviously much faster choppers and dicers than the rest of us, so they can’t be trusted with times. When you practice, try to remember how long it takes you. You can copy times over from the recipe, but you can also tweak them once you’ve seen you in action.

3. Decide what to do in advance.

Now that you have a nice schedule of how long everything is going to take you, you can decide if you want to try it all at once or prepare in advance. My fancy dinner party timing is designed to take place over two days. Am I cooking the entire two days? No. But it gives me a break in between things, and who doesn’t want that? If possible, I like doing desserts entirely the day before. Once I picked churros, which have to be fried, and that was the worst decision I ever made at a dinner party. I was so tired of cooking by then, I gave up trying to make them look beautiful and just served blobs of fried dough. I did creme brulee last year, and it did have to be broiled at the last minute, but that was totally doable.

churros
These are my actual churro blobs. Don’t be like me. Serve nice churros.

One other thing I really like to do to keep my fancy dinner party timing in check is early morning vegetable chopping. That goes for all recipes. I’ll put them in baggies or bowls or something to keep them separated. For the most part veggies stay fresh looking after you cut them, so it’s one less headache later in the day. Soups are usually good in the slow cooker, so that’s another thing to think about doing early in the day. I rarely do the main dish or the side dish ahead, besides seasoning. Obviously this will all depend on what you’re cooking; a roast will go in the oven a lot earlier than something would go on the grill.

4. Set the table and get ready at the last minute.

Get ready at the last minute, you say? Are you crazy? I’m asking everyone else to dress up and I will barely have any time to look my best? Yep, sorry. Pro tip: You’re the one cooking. That means spills, flours, oil, sauces all over the place. Prolong the mess as long as you can. You can invest in an apron if you want, but taking it on and off every five minutes while you switch courses is going to get annoying. Also, this must be said – keep your hair back. No one wants a hair in their food. If you’re wearing an up-do, you can do that once you’re up for the day and it will stay. Probably. I don’t know your hairstyling skills. Mine are generally terrible, but I can still keep my hair in a bun.

Having perfect fancy dinner party timing isn’t really going to be affected by setting your table, but I would suggest doing it last, doing it first, or having someone else do it. I can’t do it first at my house because we’re a madhouse and something will mess it up, so I stick to last minute. If you’ve never read anything by me before, you might not know this, but I hate decorating. So my centerpieces will usually be something simple and a couple of bread baskets. Super easy. Waiting til the last minute doesn’t hurt me at all, although it might change how fancy my napkin folding gets. Yes, I use real napkins. I bought them for my wedding, so I might as well use them.

5. Keep your clock out while you eat.

You spent all this time scheduling it, now you have to keep your fancy dinner party timing perfect by watching the clock. Does that suck a little bit while you’re hosting all your friends? Yes, kind of. But someone always volunteers to help, so it could actually mean one-on-one time with people. Fun! You can have Siri or Alexa or whoever time things for you, but I feel like that would ruin the ambiance. Now, how long should you have between courses? I guess that’s up to you and how fast you eat, but I like about fifteen minutes between the end of one course and the start of another. I swear, it doesn’t make the meal last forever.

What? You think I own paper AND an actual clock? Don’t be crazy.

Let’s see how this works. I have people showing up at 6:30. My appetizers have to be ready to go. They have half an hour to eat them. Then at 7:00 I serve an amuse-bouche. No need for a fifteen minute break here; I tell them my rules (you have to try,  no offense taken if you don’t like it), then move on. So, we’re serving salad around 7:05. We have a lot to eat so courses are small. Assume everyone’s done in five minutes. That means soup needs to be ready at 7:25, a main course at 7:45, and dessert at 8:05. Everything’s done by 8:10 if I’ve planning my fancy dinner party timing correctly. That’s a great time to play a game or something, plus you only had to sit at the table for a little over an hour. Wah-lah! Dinner has been served.

Note:

I planned on keeping this fancy dinner party series on a week-by-week basis, but unfortunately I had to reschedule my Disney-themed dinner. How’s that for some crappy fancy dinner party timing, huh? This is probably not a huge deal to anyone, but I wanted to let you know in case you were eagerly waiting to steal my Little Mermaid soup or whatever I’m serving (hint: it’s not that). Don’t worry, it will be here sometime in May. Until then, I’ll have more frenzied ideas on the way!

 

 

 

Secrets to a Fancy Dinner Party

Secrets to Hosting a Fancy Dinner Party

I have a confession. I love hosting a fancy dinner party. It makes no sense for a busy gal like myself. I cook for days, I barely sit down even during dinner, and cleanup is awful. Yet I love it anyway. My cooking skills are on display for everyone to see and praise, plus I get to personally judge my organization and time management. Why is that fun? I don’t know. When you’re a self-employed person, I guess you start coming up with weird ways to assess yourself. I also serve a LOT of booze, so it’s like my guests are all reliving college, but in a fancier way.

My annual fancy dinner party is coming up soon, so I thought I’d write a little series about it as I get prepared. I’ve been doing this since 2010, and shockingly they’ve all gone quite well. My cuisine has gotten better, and my timing last year was about perfect, so I think it’s a great time to share my secrets. Do you need to know how to cook to host a fancy dinner party? Yes. Don’t kid yourself on this one. Your only other option is to have someone else cook it, whether family, friend, or caterer, but then they might as well host it themselves, right? Luckily, if you follow my schedule, you’ll have plenty of time to learn.

Secret #1 – A fancy dinner party is not a weekly event.

I said my fancy dinner party is annual, and I’m not kidding. You guys, it is so much work. I’m a bookkeeper and I work with CPA’s who try to smother me in paperwork every March and April. That’s why I celebrate the end of tax season with something nice. My husband and I invite over 6-8 of our friends, tell them to dress up, and then serve them dinner. But, I don’t have time to do all the cooking and prep work every week, and he would probably balk at the cleaning if I tried. I’m not saying you can’t do it more than once a year, but if you’re serious about providing good food that you yourself cooked, you’re going to want a break in between.

May I have 4 bites of lobster tail, please?

Also, this may not be a secret, but fancy dinner parties are expensive to throw. I coupon from time to time, but we do alright for ourselves and I prefer not to spend my precious time driving from store to store looking for the best deal. What kind of ingredients do fancy foods have? The pricey kind. By only throwing one or two a year, you save yourself the hassle of trying to cut costs for every course. There’s also cleanup to think about. I try to be a green hostess when I can, but my husband and I agree we will not be using dishes we have to put through the dishwasher. Think about it. Five courses for ten people is fifty plates. Kill me now! But we’re being fancy, so we have to get the high quality disposable plates to make sure it looks nice.

Secret #2 – Practice, practice, practice.

The other important part of hosting your fancy dinner parties sparingly is the time you have to practice your courses. I legitimately give myself a year to find the recipes I want and perfect them. Actually, I keep a list of potential menus in my to-do list, so I could potentially be practicing courses for years before I wind up using some of those recipes. Sure, you could cook the four dishes you always cook and call it “fancy,” but people aren’t going to dress up for that. You should be serving elegant dishes you wouldn’t serve all the time, and that requires more than day-of practicing.

With a little practice, I’ll make this soup beautiful!
With even more practice, you’ll be able to tell these are crab cakes! 🙂

You might also want to start practicing your plating skills. Have you ever been to a fine dining establishment? The food doesn’t look the same way it does when you go to Chili’s or Outback. Plating food is not a natural skill, and I’m still not all that great at it. But, I get better every year. That’s because  of practice! You don’t have to make anything fancy to practice plating. If you’re making a full meal one day, why not dress up the plate a little? By the time you get to hosting your party, you’ll have an idea of what you’re doing.

Secret #3 – Do not invite picky eaters.

Don’t invite the whole world, don’t invite people who couldn’t hold a conversation over their meal, and definitely, one hundred percent, don’t invite picky eaters. You are going to be so irritated if you spend a year working towards this beautifully plated meal and then your guests won’t even try it. I actually have rules when I host. I serve an amuse-bouche while I tell the guests the rules so it comes out nicer, but they’re pretty simple. Unless you’re allergic to it, you need to try it. I don’t care if people like it. I really don’t. What are the chances that ten people would all like every dish you serve? Not good, probably. But, oh man, if you won’t even try it, why did you come?

Good luck with the picky eaters when you serve them Moroccan cod with harissa!

When you’re making up your guest list, this will pop into your mind. Maybe you will feel guilty if you have one friend you really want to invite, but you know she’ll tell your other friend you don’t want there. Oh well. Be an adult, just tell the other friend you don’t want to do all that work for people who aren’t going to eat it. In the past, I’ve invited two out of three of my very close coworkers. I’ve invited one of my next door neighbors but not the other. If they get all bitter about it, you can make something up. Say you got to choose one friend and your spouse got to choose one friend and that’s all you can fit at your table. Whatever. Just don’t do all that work for people who won’t appreciate it.

Secret #4 – Put thought into your menu.

You can go willy-nilly if you want to. Serve a cucumber salad, borscht, fried chicken, and a flan. See how that goes. Hint: It won’t be the best. I had no theme at all for my very first dinner party, other than that I found all my recipes on Food and Wine, but I’ve gotten better since then. Last year it was French, the year before was spring. Spring was actually one of my most successful menus. Every course featured a beautiful fruit or vegetable. This year I’m doing… Wait for it… Disney! Yes, a Disney-themed fancy dinner party. Believe me, there was more thought put into this menu than any other one I’ve ever done. I’m going to write more on that specific meal in a later post, but I do think it will be great.

A spring asparagus soup.

It’s not just a theme that matters though. You should decide ahead of time what kind of courses you want to put out. I do appetizers and a cocktail while people arrive and I finish up my prep. I serve an amuse-bouche to tell people the rules. Then I have a salad course, a soup course, a main course with a side, and dessert. Everything from salad on gets it’s own wine. That’s the one thing I have guests bring, by the way. I don’t want them cooking and ruining whatever theme I’ve got going, but they can bring the type of wine I tell them to. Anyway, you don’t have to follow my plan, but you should have your own. Don’t serve three soups and a cheese plate. Just don’t.

Coming up: Planning and Organizing

I said at the beginning this was going to be a series, and I meant it. You don’t want to sit here reading all day, do you? Maybe you’ve already started thinking about holding a fancy dinner party, and now you know what will make it successful. Next time we’re going to talk in detail about planning and organizing the party, because if it’s going to be successful, that needs to be a category all its own. Unless you have two ovens, it can get really tricky to get everything out on time, and that’s just one concern. Enjoy your week and I’ll be back soon!

Food Trivia to Share atEaster Dinner

Trivia You Can Share When Hosting Easter Dinner

Hosting Easter dinner this year? Kudos to you! I’m sticking to a fun Easter brunch, but you dinner-hosters have my admiration. Do you have the whole family coming over? A bunch of friends? No one? Those are all fine choices, although I personally like the idea of someone hosting a fabulous Easter dinner and then refusing to invite anyone to it. If I wasn’t married…

Anyway, I’m not here to give you a whole bunch of tips on what to wear and how to decorate, although if you needed to know that I’d say clothes and minimally. Instead, I thought I’d provide you with a little information about food. Were you aware that Easter is a religious holiday? I bet you were! According to Gallup’s last Easter poll, about 60% of people in the US go to church on Easter. I will vouch for this. I used to live two streets away from a church, yet somehow on Easter my whole street would be filled with the cars of lost souls who forgot how to park at a church since they only attended once a year. Religious holidays come with all kinds of traditions and meanings, so if you’re going to be hosting Easter dinner, you might as well know what tradition you’re following.

Hosting Easter Dinner with Lamb

traditional Easter lamb

If you are serving lamb this meal, you’re serving the most Christian of all the traditional Easter foods. If there was meat at the Last Supper, this was it. It’s weirdly also the most Jewish of all the traditional foods, because it’s usually part of Passover. What I’m saying is, lamb at Easter dinner is a religious thing. Not religious? That’s okay. It’s still delicious. Personally, if I was cooking Easter dinner this year, I’d be going with lamb. My son is too young to care what he eats, so I might as well enjoy this tasty meat while I have the opportunity. Never cooked it? I suggest something like this basic rosemary recipe. It’s pretty common to season your lamb with rosemary, so you might as well start with the basics.

Why You’re Serving Ham

Americans ham Easter dinner

Eating ham this Easter? Oh hey! You must be American! If I’m not mistaken, Easter has something to do with Jesus, and that guy was a Jew. I bet he wasn’t eating ham.  So how did it get involved in all this mess? Basically, it’s just what was around. Easter takes place in the spring, and back before globalization and climate change, you couldn’t get everything fresh every time of year. Germans started serving ham because they could slaughter pigs in the winter and then keep it until spring. This spread throughout northern Europe, and they brought pigs over to the Americas, and we’ve been obsessed with pork ever since. If you’re going to cook one yourself, I say something simple like this would be fine. More time to work on your sides!

What’s the Deal with the Eggs

My sister is always curious about this one. I guess she forgets every year, because I have told her repeatedly. A long time ago, Christianity was not the dominant religion, so Easter wouldn’t have been a huge deal to everyone. But, that doesn’t mean non-Christians didn’t have their own religions. They did – and a lot of them celebrated spring. Once Christianity started growing, traditions started getting combined. There was one goddess of rebirth who had a symbol of a rabbit laying eggs. Her name? Eostre. So, Eostre became Easter, and now we’re stuck with this random goddess in the middle of a Christian holiday. Fascinating, right?

Alright! Now you’re pumped full of information about Easter. It doesn’t matter what kind of tradition you follow. Have a barbecue, skip Easter altogether, eat your lamb and ham and eggs, or cook up some dish that your family has passed down forever. What does matter is that you have fun and know more about the meal than everyone else.  🙂 Get out there, play smarty-pants and answer any food-related questions that come up while you’re hosting Easter dinner.

5 Tips for an Awesome Easter Brunch

5 Tips for an Awesome Easter Brunch

Making an awesome Easter brunch honestly isn’t that difficult, because even a regular brunch is awesome. I’ve talked about the basics before, and we’re going to stick with that outline, but add a theme. Easter’s kind of a strange holiday to figure out, isn’t it? Not the religious part – that part’s pretty easy. But the rest of it is just weird. We’ve got a giant bunny who for some reason delivers eggs. Who knows who he’s stealing all those eggs from, because I went to a biology class one time and I’m pretty positive rabbits don’t lay eggs.

Anyway, that’s not even what I’m talking about. I mostly mean it’s a Christmas-like holiday, but people don’t make it a travel priority if family isn’t close. Sometimes it coincides with spring break, other times it doesn’t. I didn’t do anything for Easter for many years because I didn’t have anyone to do it with. Now I’m close to my family again, and I have my own family to entertain, so I can make my own traditions. Brunch is definitely going to be one of them, whether I ever get around to making an Easter basket filled with bizarre bunny eggs or not. So, without further adieu, here are my 5 tips for an awesome Easter brunch.

1. Find a cool centerpiece – But don’t overdo it.

I’m not a super fan of cheesy decorations, but unless you’re going straight up Christian traditional only, Easter seems like a good time to be a little silly. Like I said, it involves an egg-laying bunny. I’ve seen many cool centerpieces online over the years. One simple one I like is just carrots in a vase, but you can get much crazier than that if you have time, especially if you already own a bunch of Easter decorations. Here’s another idea, and another. All fun, none too difficult. I moved a couple of weeks ago, and I’m very excited to have my dining room table out of storage, so I’ve already practiced my own. Let me know what you think, so if it’s terrible I have time to find something else!

Step 1: Buy junk at store. Step 2: Put junk in vases.

 

So, cool centerpieces are a must. But that doesn’t mean you should go crazy with the decorations. This is the Frenzied Hostess you guys, not the I Have So Much Time I’ll Knit Placemats for Every Attendee Hostess. If you’ve got that nice Easter wreath, I’m sure that’s already up, right? Or a few little decorations the kids put up, they’re fine too. That doesn’t mean you have to spend an extra hour or two of your precious time getting ready for one meal. Set the table, have a little fun with it, and let your awesome Easter brunch menu be the shining star.

2. Have an awesome Easter brunch menu.

Ha, bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you? You can serve one thing for brunch. You can do potluck. Or, you can knock it out of the park, and have your fruits, your sweets, your eggs, and your meats covered. Okay, skip the meat if you’re vegetarian. And the eggs if you’re a vegan. And the food if you’re a zombie. Don’t want to leave any eating plan out now. But the point is, have a few dishes that provide different tastes, and don’t skip the dessert, even if you are a zombie.  That doesn’t mean you need four complete dishes that will each take all day. It just means variety is the key.

Shockingly, I will have a little spare time this Easter because it coincides with the end of tax season. I will be as stressed as possible on Good Friday, but by Easter everything should be handled. Don’t worry, you still have until that Tuesday to file your taxes. Just don’t ask me to do it. I need a break. Anyway, since I have more time than usual I can actually focus on making something nice. But, I know that’s not the case for everyone, so to help you out I’m including three different cohesive menus. We’ve got the traditional, the fancy, and the fun. All of them have options for make-ahead on at least one dish. Still need help? You can always count on Martha Stewart.

Awesome Easter Brunch Menus

The Traditional

Biscuits with Jelly
Deviled Eggs
Ham
Hot Cross Buns or Pound Cake

Time Savers & Alternatives

You don’t have to hand make the biscuits, friends. Or the jelly. Just buy these things. Deviled eggs can be made the day before, morning of, whatever. They will be smelly either way, right? The hot cross buns can be done the day before in two different ways. One, you can cook them and warm them up on Easter. Two, you can make the dough, refrigerate it, and cook them the day of. I actually think this menu is the least time-consuming, even if you do have to use your oven a lot. But, if you really are in a pinch, combine your meat and egg dishes and have a ham scramble.

The Fancy

Fresh Fruit
Cheese and spinach quiche
Smoked salmon bagels or chicken salad croissants
Crepes

Time Savers and Alternatives

No time for quiche? Just do a casserole. Less fancy, same taste. Although, you can technically make quiche ahead if you want. Just form it and freeze it sometime before Easter and you’re good to go. Smoked salmon bagels are quite easy even though they look fancy, but I know not everyone’s a fan. If you prefer to do chicken salad instead, you’re in luck. That can be done the day before as well, and you have my permission to buy the croissants. Crepes sound complicated, but honestly, they’re pancakes, and no one needs to make pancakes in advance. You can skip fresh fruit altogether if you do a fruit filling with your crepes, and you can do the filling in advance. Extra time? Fancy up the fruit and put it in individual serving containers.

The Fun

Fruit kebabs or fun shaped fruit platter
Eggs in a hole
French toast sausage roll ups
Monkey Bread or Dirt Cake

Time Savers and Alternatives

First thing’s first:  If you’re a Pinterest user, look up “Easter fruit” to see what I’m talking about with that. Next thing: If you’re out of time, scrap the fruit platters and put it in a bowl! Eggs in a hole are pretty easy to do if you bake them. You can cut out the bread the night before. If your kids don’t like those, just scramble something up. Both monkey bread and dirt cake can be done in advance, but they’re also both super easy so you might not have to. The worst here is the french toast sausage roll ups, so if you’re really short and time but determined to do this, why not buy prepared pancakes and roll them around the sausage instead? It’s close enough.

3. Don’t forget about the drinks – alcoholic or not.

Do people usually drink on Easter? I don’t even know. I won’t be, but I’m knocked up, so I don’t count. My family members aren’t huge drinkers either, so I don’t think I’m going to be in a rush to buy a bunch of liquor. But, if you are, no judgment from me. My only concern is that you serve something nice. Now, I don’t like to invite people over for events and expect them to bring food, unless we specifically decided a potluck would be fun, but I do think it’s perfectly reasonable to have them bring drinks. It takes no effort to buy a carton of orange juice. Slightly more to buy a bottle of champagne if your ID doesn’t easily slide out of you wallet, but still, nothing too taxing. So don’t feel bad about assigning people drinks if you want.

Having other people bring them, doing it yourself, alcoholic, non-alcoholic, none of these things are terribly important. What is important is that the drinks are special. Sure, you can serve plain orange juice and milk. But what’s awesome about that? You don’t have to do anything complicated, but adding a little splash of color or something will certainly make for a more entertaining meal. Here’s a few alcoholic beverages that look exciting, and here’s a few that you could make for the kids. Serve one one fancy drink to go with your regular choices, and your guests will be dazzled. Or they’ll yawn, and get kicked off the guest list for next year’s awesome Easter brunch.

4. Use the good dishes. Make someone else clean them.

Hey, you’re doing all this work to make sure everyone has an awesome Easter brunch! Why should you have to cook and clean? I never use my good dishes. Literally, I mean never. They’re still in packaging. So this year I’m pulling out all the stops and embracing the terror that is allowing other people to use my nice things. (I’m just kidding you guys. If I trust you enough to have you for a meal, I trust you enough to hold a plate like a normal human being.) If you have your own nice dishes, might as well use them for this special occasion too, right? Even though paper plates would be so much less of a hassle…

But, here’s the thing about not having potlucks. It means the people you invited didn’t cook, they didn’t set out the beautiful centerpiece you found, and they aren’t going to be stuck with a pile of dishes. So it’s not so terrible to ask for a little help. Now, I wouldn’t ask my friends to clean up after themselves if it was a dinner party, but for Easter it’s my family. My husband and mom will probably do the dishes without being asked anyway, but if your family isn’t that way, perhaps you could print this Slate article and leave it strategically on your table before the meal starts. That will show them how to be a good guest. Trust me, if you can get someone to help you clean up, it will be a much more awesome Easter brunch for you.

5. Hide an egg, kids or not.

What’s more Easter-y than hiding some eggs? If you have kids attending, go throw them all over your yard. Seriously, just toss them around. It’ll take two minutes, your yard will look extremely festive, and it will entertain them while the grown-ups sip on whatever fancy drink you concocted and you finish the dish that inevitably took too long. Tell them they’re missing one if they find all the eggs too fast. There are other Easter games, I’m sure, but I don’t remember them. An Easter egg hunt is just so simple, why bother with other things? Of course, if it’s cold you’ll have to hide them inside, so make your boundaries VERY clear for those little weirdos.

No kids coming to your brunch? So what? Hide a “golden” egg somewhere and give the guests a prize. You don’t have to play a serious game of hide-and-seek with the egg. It can be a raffle, or one of those gold star on the chair sort of prize giveaways. It just adds a little bit of fun to have a prize at the end. Admit it, you hate those cheesy office Christmas parties, but you love it when they give out the prizes. Same idea. If your guests are drinking, I say hide it good and see what happens. It might be hilarious for everyone. Well, that’s my thoughts on having an awesome Easter brunch. Stay tuned – next week we need to talk about Easter dinner!

Rock a 3 course valentine's day dinner

How to Rock a Three Course Valentine’s Day Dinner

Valentine’s Day dinner. Ug, am I right? Like I need another special meal to plan in between the cleaning, working, and baby-watching. I suppose I could be like most normal people I know and go out on the town. But it’s not exactly romantic when I have to drag my toddler along, especially considering he’s incapable of sitting down. Does anyone else have that problem? I’m not sure why my husband and I even try to go out anymore. We can’t talk to each other because one of us is always walking around the restaurant following our son. We do occasionally have a baby-sitter, but my parents have been happily married for three hundred years and it’s also my mom’s birthday, so they’re out for this one.

I’m left with two choices. Either I cook, or I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all. That actually doesn’t sound so terrible, but my husband does like to acknowledge the holiday even though we don’t do gifts. So, cooking it is. Some of you may think I should have the hubby cook. No. You come eat his cooking sometime and then see how you feel about that. More power to you if you’re in a couple where you both cook. It sounds amazing. Anyway, without further ado, here’s my plan to fix a three course Valentine’s Day dinner without wasting all day in the kitchen.

Plan your Valentine’s Day Dinner Ahead

I would love if I always had everything I needed in my refrigerator, but it’s a rare rare day when that happens. I go through phases where I meal plan a week at a time, with some great advice, but I can’t keep up with myself during tax season. There could be anything in my fridge right now. Or nothing, which is probably more likely. This means for a three course meal I really need to come up with a plan ahead of time. Then I can grocery shop in advance, not have to run to the store later, and know exactly how much time I need to carve out of my day.

Pick a Cohesive Menu

Do you like Italian? Greek? Want to recreate some meal you and your lover had all those years ago? Pick one and go with it. The last thing you need is to have to come up with some sort of palate cleanser in between the important stuff. I’m going Greek this year because I need to practice a baklava recipe. Yes, I know baklava is originally from Turkey. That doesn’t mean they don’t make it in Greece. Anyway, that’s not the point. I want to practice this recipe, and my husband loves Greek gyros, so that’s the direction I’m going. Last year we had Italian if I remember correctly, and I also seriously considered French, but we’ll take it one year at a time.

I do have one caveat for your cohesive menu – the emergency cheese. What? You’ve never had to invest in an emergency cheese? Well, you should get used to the idea. It’s great. I know I’m going to do my best to plan everything and have a fixed schedule. I also know that’s not going to happen, because, life. That’s why I like to buy a good block of cheese when I’m doing my special occasion shopping. For my husband, only Gouda will do, so that’s what I get. Once I get backed up, which I inevitably will, he can munch on that with some apples. It also works as a first course appetizer or a dessert cheese plate if you really get behind. Wah lah! Emergency cheese.

Make Ahead Dessert

Dessert is the last course of the day, but I think it’s a great idea to make it the first course you cook. I’m going to make mine Thursday night after the kid goes to sleep. That way I know it’s done. Here’s a quick list of make-ahead desserts, but I’m sure Pinterest will show you a thousand more ideas if you can’t find one to fit your theme. Some desserts, like cheesecake, actually taste better to me after a day of sitting around, and it will allow you a little more time to do something fancy if you like. Plus, it’s the last course of your Valentine’s Day dinner so if you’re too tired to cook anymore, it doesn’t matter. Even something like creme brulee, which sounds really difficult but isn’t, can mostly be done ahead, then crisped up at the last second.

Easy but Elegant Salad

Anyone can dump a package of salad in a bowl. In fact, if that’s what you want to do, I’m not going to stop you. But, salads can also be really beautiful and elegant without a lot of work. When they’re not the main course, you usually don’t have to worry about getting a lot of protein in there, and that saves you cooking time. I think the last time I did a French salad the most difficult thing I did was toast some walnuts and dump in pre-crumbled goat cheese. Here’s another good list. If you’re following along my Greek menu, I’ll be doing your basic Greek salad by picking up a bunch of ingredients at the grocery store antipasti bar. They let everything swim in oil, so I probably won’t even have a dressing. I’ll throw my antipasti in a bowl with some lettuce and mix. So easy!

Spend your time on the Main Dish

You have to make a main dish, right? The emergency cheese just can’t replace your main course, no matter how much you want it to. If you’re going to get crazy, this is the place to do it, although I wouldn’t necessarily advise it. Does your theme have a slow cooker meal you could try? That’d save some time. You might not have to cook anything by the time Valentine’s Day dinner starts! I will be making gyro meat and tzatziki sauce. Is this complicated? Yes. I’m not going to pretend it’s not. But, I can do it in phases, like sauce in the morning, meat mixing afternoon, cooking it while I mix the salad. If I could ever find a good tzatziki, I would buy it and save myself the trouble, so please feel free to make recommendations. I do like cooking the meat though.

Whether you’re spending a lot of time on the main dish at night or in the morning, I would still aim for something really tasty. This actually is a special occasion. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t go through all the trouble. As for a side dish, that’s totally up to you. I’m going to buy pitas to serve our meal as a sandwich, but other dishes might necessitate something more. Pasta’s fine on it’s own. A piece of chicken or steak might require a vegetable or something though. In that case I’d suggest steaming a vegetable, or maybe throwing a baked potato in the oven when the cheese comes out. Those are both super easy options that won’t distract you from the other stuff. Alright, readers. Go out and put together a fabulous three course Valentine’s Day dinner!

how to SET UP A 5 MINUTE BIG GAME SPORTS BOOK AT HOME

How to Host a Big Game Sports Book at Home

Have you ever wanted to host a big game sports book at your own home? As a native Nevadan, I always like to add a little gambling to my football parties. I’m not sure why, exactly. There’s just something fun about losing three different bets immediately because somehow the Giants forced Tom Brady into a safety in the first drive of the game. Of course, you don’t have to gamble with money. Some people have it, some people don’t, you know which one you and your friends are. You can also gamble with drinks, food, pride, or you know, whatever else you can come up with. We personally choose money or beer, depending on who we’ve invited, but to each their own.

This year I’m not hosting a Super Bowl party, as I’m living in a tiny, dark rental house for one more month. But, my friends did ask me to bring some Vegas type games with me. Since I don’t have to cook, I should have plenty of time – oh wait! I’m a frenzied hostess! It’s tax season and I’m a bookkeeper. I have NO time for anything (including this – which is why it’s late this week!). But, I said I’d do it, so here we go. Enjoy my ideas for making your own big games sports book, and please, don’t feel like it should take all day.

Big Game Sports Book Ideas

Are they a little crazy looking? Sure, but see what I have to work around?

1. Super Squares

If you’ve ever had coworkers, been to a restaurant with TVs in January, or casually glanced at game day ideas, you’ve seen these before. You won’t see them in a Las Vegas sports book, but they’re still fun and easy to get people’s toes wet in the gambling arena. I’m not going to go through the whole process – the folks over at Super Bowl Squares have that covered. Follow those instructions. Now, here’s my input: Get some poster board, don’t waste your time measuring squares because no one cares about that, and then tape it to a wall in an obvious place. You should also have some squares filled out beforehand so people get interested. Yes, you do have to pony up if you place the bets. Then direct your first couple of guests right to that big beautiful grid and get the game going.

2. Prop Bets

I took an extra two seconds per football. Fancy!

Prop bets are my absolute favorite. They are the reason I somehow managed to lose all those bets at once back in 2012. They’re basically just random things you can bet on, like what color Gatorade will get dumped on the winning coach or how long the national anthem will last. Here’s a good list of bets for 2017 specifically, but you could update this each year, minus perhaps the entertainment ones. I would not choose too many. It would get confusing, because you are not actually a sports book. Instead, pick about five, making sure to pick some from both game and non-game related bets. Then throw them on another poster board and have the bettors write their answers on it.

One other little addition I might add this year is to set up a couple of bets about the guests. Not everyone there is going to be a football fan, so to keep them entertained, I thought it might be fun to make some prop bets like “Who will start the backyard football game?” and “Who will cry at a commercial?” If you have big drinker friends, you can incorporate that as well. Since this is your own private big game sports book, you might as well involve everyone.

3. Who Will Win?

Okay friends, you should be doing this even if you aren’t going to make a big game sports book. Why wouldn’t you bet on who’s going to win? Now, there are a couple ways of going about this. The easiest, obviously, is to simply pick who’s going to win. I typically don’t collect any money for this, but when I have guests they write their name on a slip of paper and put it in a bowl dedicated to the team they think is going to win. Once the game is over I pull out a name out from the winner’s side and they get a prize. You could actually collect money and split it between winners; I would give them all something the color of their team, like a pin or beads, to prove they won.

4. Vegas Style

On the other hand, you could get crazy and go real sports book style. Here’s a link to the current odds. I can’t advise you to actually pay out on those odds, unless you’re a rich person, in which case you may want to consider something other than poster board for your sports book. I can tell you what those numbers mean. The line is pretty easy. According to that site, New England is favored by 3, which is the -3 you’re seeing.  Basically you bet on the Patriots if you think they’ll win by 3 or more. You pick Atlanta if you think they’ll win, or even if they’ll lose by less than 3 points. It’s not much of a spread, so good luck with this one.

The other fun part of trying to plan a big game sports book  is taking bets on the over/under. Usually the over/under is what Vegas thinks both teams are going to score combined. In this case, it’s 58 points. Fifty-eight! That’s a high scoring game they’re suggesting. The good news is, the betting part is much easier than the scoring. Do you think there will be more or less than 58 points scored during the game?  You can write down people’s bets for this if you want, or have people put their names down somewhere, or whatever you want. Again, I wouldn’t suggest you spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to pay like the sports book would. I’d just settle on a wager from the beginning; perhaps pair over bettors with under bettors and let them choose their own terms.

Well, that’s about it! Enjoy your big game sports book, and don’t forget your amazing bookie visor! 🙂

 

Why i'm hosting my own birthday party

Why I’m Hosting My Own Birthday Party

I’m turning 32 in a couple of weeks. Last time I checked, no one cares when you turn 32. That is why I’m throwing my own birthday party this year. I usually do this anyway, as it would be a lot to ask someone else to do every year, but I’ll be handling everything this time around. That means I’m the greeter, the chef, the baker, the decorator, the clean-up, and the designated driver. What?! The designated driver at my own birthday party?! Sounds crazy, I know. But I’m pregnant, so it’s really not that big a deal. Typically someone else would get that job, as well as cleanup and baking, but I’ve run into a few issues this year.

The first issue is that I’m preggo. I already have one child and I don’t need a second shower, but I know my family is going to do at least a “sprinkle,” because that’s just how they are. So I don’t need them throwing another party for me. I also happen to be finding out the sex the weekend before my birthday. Since we like to reveal with blue or pink cake, it just makes sense for me to combine that with my own birthday party.  The second issue is I’m still new to Tennessee, and I don’t feel like letting one of my recent acquaintances come up with a guest list to introduce me to people. Regardless, there is nothing wrong with throwing your own birthday party! Just follow a few rules so you don’t come off as needy. Unless you are needy. Then do what you want.

Rules I Have for Hosting My Own Birthday Party

1. No Requesting Gifts

Did you know some people out there still bring gifts to birthday parties? I feel like in college all my friends and I were so broke we just gave up on that tradition and never picked it back up. Then I moved to the south and guests kept bringing me things, whether it was for my birthday or housewarming or whatever. I might bring a bottle of wine if I’m invited somewhere, but I’m not  into gift giving for every occasion.  I don’t want gifts either – unless it’s wine, obviously. So, when I host my own birthday party, I not only don’t request gifts, but I specifically tell people not to bring them. Maybe it’s tacky, maybe it isn’t. Either way, I don’t want you to stress when you come to my party.

2. Don’t Go Overboard

This, my friends, is the opposite of going overboard!

If I’m throwing a party for someone else, I almost always buy more food and/or decor than I will have time to deal with. I want everything to be perfect for them. But guess what? When I’m throwing my own birthday party, I’m usually just impressed I thought of inviting people ahead of time. I feel like it’d be weird to hang a whole bunch of birthday banners for myself, so I’ll definitely skip that. I get to pick my own favorite foods, whether I pick it up or cook. It’s also nice not to have to deal with some fancy bakery – I don’t like a lot of cake frosting, but bakers love it. So I’ll slather some buttercream on it and be done.  No fuss, o headaches, just all my favorite things.

3. Don’t Feel Bad Combining With Another Event

This year I’m doing a little gender reveal during my birthday. Last year I had a newborn and have legitimately no memory of my birthday as I was very sleep-deprived. The year before I enjoyed the big 3-0 at the same time as the Big Game. I know not everyone has a championship to watch on their birthday, but if there’s something else to combine it with, why not? I feel like it takes the spotlight off me, plus it keeps us “old” folks from getting partied out. If I was still in my early twenties back-to-back parties might be fun, but that’s not the case anymore. I had two Christmas parties in three days this December and it about killed me. Maybe that will change once the kids are older, but that seems so far away.

4. Don’t Get Caught up with Etiquette

Why do I say don’t get caught up with etiquette while I’m posting rules that are basically about etiquette? Well, look. Some people get really stressed about what society has to say about throwing your own birthday party. Miss Manners is particularly gruff on this point. There are whole discussion boards in forums dedicated to how tacky it is, and yadda yadda yadda. But who cares? If Miss Manners is your friend, just don’t invite her. Tell those forum people to stay home too. Not everyone knows how to throw a party, and even if they did, not everyone has friends who would want to throw one for them. Feel free to ignore advice that is simply too old-fashioned to listen to.

5. Have Fun!

This one’s actually important. You know what the worst part of hosting my own birthday party is? It’s that I’m a hostess. I like hosting, obviously, but it’s a lot of work and running around. You have to check on people and make sure your guests are okay, specifically your guest of honor. So how do you check on the guest of honor when it’s you? Don’t feel bad if you get caught up with someone and don’t make constant rounds to other people. This is your show, so you might as well enjoy it and let them come to you if you want. That’s about it for rules. So go out, have fun, and plan your own party!

 

3 Lessons for Bachel

Bachelorette Parties & Knowing Your Bride

I’ve been a maid of honor three times. Yep. Three times as not just a bridesmaid, but the maid of honor. You can bet I have some thoughts and opinions on bachelorette parties. I thought this would be a good time to write about them because I’m about to have my fourth. There’s a possible fifth in the works too, if my sister doesn’t decide to elope. Actually, I might throw her a bachelorette party anyway. They’re just so much fun. Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t as time crunched when I did the first three. I am slightly freaking out about how to find time for these new ones, but when the bride calls, you answer.

The girls I’m planning parties for could not be more different in personality. This is going to make these parties even more time-consuming than usual, and bachelorette parties are already no joke. Normally, my busy friends, I say host the way you want to host and throw the kind of party you want to throw. But, the bachelorette party is not normal. You have to know your bride, and you have to cater to her. There’s a reason four separate women have asked me to be their maid of honor, and it’s not because I’m the best friend they’ve ever had. It’s because I know how to throw a party.

Lesson 1: Bachelorette Parties are not about You

drinks for bachelorettes
Mojitos not your cup of tea? Too bad.

This should go without saying, but what does the bride want? I’ve thrown your typical Vegas bachelorette (just an FYI, I’m from Nevada – I don’t think it’s reasonable for everyone to go to Vegas and your bride shouldn’t either). But then, I’ve also thrown one at Disneyland. I’m currently thinking about one in Memphis, not because I particularly like Memphis, but because my sister loves jazz. Personally, I would have loved to have mine in Napa. I love wine and I was almost thirty when I got married. I didn’t need to do the whole matching T-shirt thing and go to nightclubs. But, that was exactly what we did.

So, there’s the first thing you need to think about. I would have enjoyed my bachelorette party much more if I’d been just a few years younger. I had moved away by that point, so I forgive my friends for not recognizing how much I’d calmed down.  It makes sense to consider age and personality when planning though. Is your bride still young and wild, even if you’re not? I know I’m about to throw one of the tamest bachelorette parties ever, because my sister hates people. She has approximately one friend who isn’t me. That’s not an exaggeration. On the other hand, I’m also about throw one of the wildest for my friend. Which reminds me…I have to travel across state lines to see her…Ug.

Lesson 2: Okay, so they are a LITTLE about you (and the guests)

scheduling bachelorette parties
Now look through twelve more of these and pick your date!

I have to find a babysitter who’s willing to cross state lines to watch me throw a party they won’t be invited to. That requires a little give on the bride’s part, don’t you think? Coordinating with other bridesmaids and guests to pick a date is fine, but the bride has to be willing to let us choose.  Since I’ll only be able to travel once, it will be a bridal shower/bachelorette.  This happens frequently when the maid of honor isn’t in the same city as the bride. If you’re in the same city, maybe you don’t need that kind of flexibility. For one friend in my city, I held two bachelorette parties and a separate bridal shower without being inconvenienced. So, think about the bride, but don’t be afraid to schedule it at a time that works for you and her friends, even if it’s not her ideal date.

I feel like some of you brides are about to go bridezilla on me, but if you’ve never been a maid of honor before, you should know it’s exhausting and expensive. If someone’s throwing up a whole bunch of time and money in your honor, you shouldn’t be too crazy about dates. Obviously you get to choose the wedding date; other than that, help us out! For my own bachelorette party, which was co-hosted by my best friend and sister, I had literally no say in the date. It was two months before my wedding, in the middle of summer, in Las Vegas, which by that point was completely across the country from me. Did I complain? No. It was the only way they could both get the time off.

Lesson 3: Enough about you, back to the bride!

In a perfect world, all maids of honors know exactly what their brides want. But, sometimes, they’re new to the club. Other times the bride may be hiding some secret desires she’s either embarrassed about or, for some reason, thought was obvious. My recommendation? Ask! I made a quick little survey you can have the bride fill out. I think it gets to the important questions, so you can start planning a little. It’s best to do this now, because girl, the bride doesn’t touch the budget. You need to do that yourself. We’re going to have to save budgeting for a future date, though, so you’re on the own for the moment!

Bachelorette Questionnaire

Okay, short-on-time readers who also have very important parties coming up, you have two tasks to get you stated. First, survey the bride. Next, start working out a schedule that’s going to work for you, your bride, and her other guests. If she throws a fit that she can’t pick the date, tell her her party budget just dropped $100 (kidding!). You should also get a good idea of how many will be on the guest list – you can do a great trip to Disneyland with a few people, but it’s going to be impossible to accommodate a giant group. Once you know those things, you can move on to the fun stuff…And the money stuff. We’ll talk about those soon!

 

 

cookies-christmas-xmas-baking

Achieving Christmas Baking Success

Friends, if you don’t own any Post-Its, you better run out and get some if you plan on doing some Christmas baking. I don’t know about you, but I like having all the cookies and breads and fudge and whatnot when it’s Christmas season. I spread them to my neighbors and friends, so whether I actually host anyone or not it feels worth it. But, I have learned an important lesson since I had a kid – it has to be planned out. I can’t take fifty trips to the grocery store. I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to get to the oven when the timer goes off if my husband isn’t home. The mess is going to be, in a word, ginormous. So, if you are as obviously insane as I am, here’s my tips to getting your baking done:

Be organized.

Wondering what Post-Its have to do with baking? Well, after I pick what I want to make, I put a Post-It with a recipe name on a Tupperware container. When I get a chance, I start taking out my dry ingredients and measuring them for the appropriate Tupperware. If I’m lucky, I can get the amount of flour I need for each recipe in just one sitting, but if not, it doesn’t matter because I’m not cooking yet. Last year I did my ingredient sorting three days before I started baking, but you could take longer. The best part is you’ll know if you’re short on anything ahead of time and only need one trip to the store for forgotten items. It doesn’t work quite as well for wet ingredients, but it’s easier to eyeball vanilla and eggs than a bag of flour.

Don’t be difficult.

I mean, don’t pick things above your cooking ability! If you’re still at “easy,” then please, do not pick this particular extravaganza to up your game. It will only stress you out more.  Baking 5,000 cookies is stressful enough, isn’t it? Actually, even if you are a professional baker, would you really want to make a whole bunch of “difficult” recipes? I doubt it. Maybe one or two, but who has time for more? I like making multiple recipes because I’m insane (2 cookies, 2 fudge or brownie, and 1 bread), but there’s also the possibility of simply making a ton of one or two specific recipes. That’s actually my plan this year – I’m in a tiny kitchen at the moment, and I don’t know a lot of people here anyway, so I think it’s a good choice.

I also don’t recommend anything with frosting, unless you’re a pro. It’s just too time-consuming, so I definitely won’t add that to my list. I know there are so many options for frosting; here’s alternatives, here’s tips, here’s blah blah blah. There are so many recipes for cookies and sweets without frosting out in the world, I don’t know why a time-crunched person like myself would bother. If you’re looking for a new cookie, you can try my Lazy Cookies ‘N Cream Cookies. Yeah, the name is about as long as the recipe.

Don’t worry!

So what if it takes you more than a day to get through your baking if you big? It might even take you another day or two to distribute the goods. Some of you perfectionists will worry about staleness, but how many recipients will eat everything at once? They will probably blame any staleness on themselves. How great is that? They’ll also be grateful that you thought of them, unless they know you are a terrible baker, in which case you obviously hate them. Kidding! I know it seems odd to let your recipients take the blame, but once you’ve finished, you have enough to deal with other than worrying. Look at your kitchen. It’s a disaster. You can clean that instead of thinking about the perfection -or lack thereof- of your baking. Of course, this is one caveat to this. Don’t serve stale baking at a party.

Don’t eat all your Christmas Baking!

Seriously, isn’t this the hardest one to follow? Now get out there and start baking!

Ugly Sweaters V. Tacky Sweaters

To Make a Tacky Sweater or buy an Ugly Sweater?

I can hear you already. No Beth! Not another tacky sweater party! I can’t handle it! Can’t we just wear something cute and be done with it? Well, sure. I’m not going to your party. I don’t care what your dress code is. I’m not even having an ugly sweater party myself, at least not this year. But there’s been a shift in recent years that’s driving me crazy, so I wanted to chat about it. Ugly sweaters have become tacky sweaters, and friends, I don’t have time for tacky. Literally, I don’t have time to make these crazy contraptions parading themselves as sweaters. So, humor me while I explain this evolution and which is easier for a time-crunched hostess.

The Ugly Sweater

When I first heard about an ugly sweater party, circa 2007ish, I was all in. The fad was a few years in, but it became trendy in Canada first, so cut me some slack. My friends and I had to throw an ugly sweater holiday party immediately.  We went on a sweater hunt to our favorite thrift store and in about thirty minutes we all came out with hideous, but amazing holiday sweaters. Now, thirty minutes may seem like a lot of time for a sweater hunt, but let’s be honest, there were five of us and we were in our twenties. We were easily distracted by other things the thrift store had to offer. I’d say thirty minutes is really a success. This is why I advocate for the ugly sweater over the tacky sweater, if you’re going to buy into this nonsense trend. It’s so much faster!

That’s the sweater I bought back in 2007. I still have it. Ugly right? Your great aunt Mildred probably turned it in to the thrift shop, but who can say for sure? Anyway, that’s another bonus to the ugly sweater. If you’re a costume hoarder like myself, you probably already have one. Do you think I’m ever going to find an uglier sweater than that? No! It’s an awful fabric with an awful color combination. It’s like the designer knew what it’s eventual purpose was going to be.  But, if I did want to go look for a new one, I’m pretty sure I could go down to Goodwill and find one in a matter of minutes, as could you. You might even need to head there anyway. It is Christmas after all. Donations run high this time of year. Now you’re done with your party prep. Easy, right?

The Tacky Sweater

Oh, the tacky sweater. How did it come to this? I admit, there has always been a crossover between ugly and tacky, but in recent years the tacky has soared to new heights. I don’t have one. I’m not going to make one. But I did borrow this image from my friend Allie, who was happy to share how ridiculous they’ve become:

tacky sweater

Do you see this? How do you even wear it? The worst part is this one isn’t even that crazy – and it still probably took awhile. And then if you’re hosting the party you still have to cook and clean and decorate? No thanks. Also, they seem a little wasteful, don’t they? I saw one a couple years ago on Live with Kelly and whoever else was hosting with a stuffed reindeer cut in half and glued on the front and back of the sweater. This is crazy to me. This could be a lot of fun if you aren’t time-crunched. I suppose you could even buy a whole bunch of supplies and decorate as a group, at the party. That might be an interesting take. But if you’re hosting it, just remember you get the cleanup.

The In-Between

There are, of course, ugly sweaters for sale just about everywhere. Here’s one on Amazon that crosses over between tacky and ugly. Tugly? I’ll work on it. The problem with buying ones like this instead of thrift store shopping is, obviously, the price tag. If your income is mostly disposable, this might be the way to go. It would be, in all honesty, the most time-saving. Ten minutes on your phone and bam! Your sweater is on the way, and you can get the fun of tacky with the real sweater feel.

To sum it all up, you have  few options in the ugly sweater department. The quickest way to go is to order it online. You don’t have to leave your house or get out the arts and crafts bucket for that. But, if you don’t want to spend the money on a sweater you can only guarantee you’ll wear once, the thrift store is going to be a lot less work than taking the time to DIY something so horrifying. Plus, what if all those lights and candy canes fall off your sweater and you have to do it all again next year? The horror! No matter what you choose, if you choose to celebrate the strange centennial creation that is the ugly sweater party, have fun, and look awful.