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Planning Parties Away from Home

I’ve lived in three different states in the past six years. That’s quite a bit of moving for a non-military family. As you can imagine, I’ve had plenty of friends come and go. But, my true friends and I will always be in touch. We try to get together at least once a year. That means that once a year, there’s a good chance I’m going to be hosting something in a place away from home. This might not happen frequently for you; maybe you and everyone you know live in one place, and it’s easy to gather at your home whenever you want. But there are still plenty of occasions to get out of the house, whether it’s to a restaurant or a rental house. When that’s the case, things can get…interesting.

Check out your Home Away from Home

I mean, check it out BEFORE you go shopping. This is pretty crucial. I’m going to use an example from when a bunch of friends and I stayed in the Smoky Mountains. Our first night I planned on having a big southern meal cooked up for everyone. They were all coming from much further away, so it made sense for me to get there first and be prepared. The problem was the house was really up in the mountains. We didn’t want to get up there, then have to come back down and go shopping, so we tried to do it all beforehand. It was not the best choice. We wound up missing all kinds of tools we thought the house would have, as well as a few crucial ingredients.

Luckily, in that case all our friends were arriving at various times, so we were able to send all of them to the store throughout the day before they headed up the mountain. It would have been a better idea for me to go first, see what we needed, then go shopping. Or, we could have had my husband stay down off the mountain until I could tell him what we needed. One other note about shopping – you’re obviously going to want the smallest size things you can get, since you’re either going to throw it away or have to drag it home. ┬áSo practice your recipes! Don’t waste what little you’ve got on a practice try.

You don’t know the kitchen

Remember this. I know in theory everything should cook the same, but we all know ovens are tricky. Things might take longer to cook than they do at your house – or they might burn! Elevation can change cooking times as well. Don’t stress about this , just remember you’re going to be even more frenzied than usual as you get to know your surroundings. If you’re really worried about elevation, you can check out this article for some help. As for oven times, you can always open it up and take a look.

Decorations mean cleanup

If you’re going to be decorating this joint, remember that you’re also responsible for cleaning it, and it will have to be done right away. You can’t leave it for a week like you could at your own house. I personally skip decorating, but a few signs might go a long way. If you have a couple of small chalkboards lying around, it wouldn’t take long to scribble something out. Plus it’ll be just as fast to load them up as it was to bring them out. No tape or tacks required!

Things will definitely be different when you host away from home, but it can still be really fun. I hope one day you get to try it!

 

 

MAN PARTY

The Difficulties of Throwing a Man Party

Have you ever had a hard time coming up with a theme for a man party? I mean, a party for an adult male. I have, and I know I’m not the only one. My husband notoriously doesn’t care about parties, doesn’t want to decorate for anything, doesn’t care if there’s a theme, and basically just doesn’t care what I do as long as there are people there he enjoys and food he wants to eat. So why bother with him at all? Well friends, he still wants to have a good time. He just doesn’t want to participate in planning it.

I personally love birthdays. I know they come around every year and every person has them, but celebrating anything is fun and birthdays allow each person one day to feel special. That’s why I make a big deal out of all my family’s, including my husband’s. Most of the time, we don’t throw parties; we go on trips. Those are fun too, and maybe I’ll talk about how to host a vacation sometimes, but until then, let’s talk about the years I do throw a party. Here are my basic rules for throwing a man party when you don’t have time to make everything perfect:

Cut the Decorations.

I will almost always cut the decorations before I cut anything else, but that’s especially the case in a man party. If you do decorate, your husband/boyfriend/brother/whoever is probably going to say, oh, that looks nice. But he won’t notice the painstaking detail you put into every single hand-painted plate or the three weeks of calligraphy chalkboard lessons you took. Here’s my decorations for my husband’s thirtieth booze an bacon party:

See that? That’s a bacon bouquet in half a wine bottle. Know how long it took me to do all of that? Not including cooking the bacon, ten minutes. (Here’s a good tutorial for the bouquet; I do the wine bottles the dangerous way with flames and nail polisher remover. I won’t be responsible for sharing that with you.) He loved it. He actually looked at it – and eventually he ate it. And I didn’t have to do anything else.

Man Party, Man Chooses Guests.

It’s the one time where you have to like his friends. You don’t have to invite the alcoholic one who’s going to hit on everyone then barf in your kitchen, unless he’s your husband’s best friend, but you should invite the ones he likes, whether you do or not. Don’t spend much time on this. Either get him to tell you the list or pick however many you need if it’s a surprise. But, the guest list is going to help you decide what comes next so it is important. Are these guys/gals gamers? Drinkers? Outdoorsmen?

Food, Drinks, or Activities?

Pick what’s most important to the guy and focus on that – for my husband, it’s always food or drink, but for yours perhaps it’s what you’re going to do at the party. Remember, I’m not talking about an offsite event here. I’m only talking about a things you can do at your house. Perhaps you have a cornhole set. Would it be more important that you set up a tournament, complete with brackets and trophies, instead of serving something time-consuming? Or would he be more insistent that you have a special whiskey cocktail prepared and he and his friends can deal with the cornhole on their own? Once you decide what aspect of the party is the most important, it’s time to focus. If it’s food, you probably have the most work ahead of you, so get started planning asap.

Focus on One Thing.

You know what’s the most important, so you work on that. Let’s go back to my husband’s thirtieth. I chose booze and bacon as a theme, but I don’t want you to think that I put a lot of effort into both food and drinks. We had Bud Light and whiskey in the alcohol department. That was it. My efforts were solely on food; it’s just that I put booze in the food. Here’s a little sample of my menu: beer-candied bacon, wine bundt cakes, BLT cups, and bacon whiskey brownies. I included links, but you’ll notice there’s no bacon in the brownie recipe. Just add chopped up, cooked bacon. Done. I think my next attempt is going to be barbecue based. Good grief does that man like barbecue. He’ll be so excited for that, he won’t care what he’s doing or drinking.

I imagine that most men will be similar to my husband; if you make their favorite party of the party the best part of the party, you can skimp on the effort everywhere else. Actually, most women are probably that way too – except you might also want to consider decorations, unless the woman in question is me. ­čÖé One day, when your kids are grown up a little bit, or you’re no longer working 80 hours a week to become a partner, you’ll have time to throw a party that’s fabulous in every single way. Until then, pick what the gentleman likes best and work on that!