I present to you, my seven part series, “Things I’ve Learned About Hosting a Holiday Get Together”. If nothing else so that I have this stuff recorded somewhere in case a year once again renders total amnesia on my part and I try to go about things without careful examination of what actually works.
Let’s begin with the best part of any gathering; at least, you hope it is. I saw a billboard for a super cheap and crappy “Mexican” fast food chain offering a party pack for $8.99, essentially 6 meat tacos (the meat is your guess) and 6 bean burritos in a handy cardboard carrying case to make catering your next party a breeze. If my parties continue to go the way they do don’t think I won’t strongly consider this option next year.
Most advice columns and articles geared toward hosting informal holiday gatherings say that the host should make things easier on themselves by requesting that the guests each bring a dish or an appetizer to share; thus cutting down on the amount of food the host is responsible for buying and preparing.
I have tried this.
It is a lie.
Guests who swear they are coming and bringing x item with them and can they also bring 3 friends since they are definitely coming will not only not show up but they will also leave a void for the guests that do show up by not bringing the item they were supposed to bring.
Guests are unreliable.
Guests are liars (this is important and will be repeated again).
Guests will bring pizza after you explicitly stated in email and on the invitation that you are providing gourmet pizza. They will do this even after they tell you they are bringing deviled eggs.
If you rely on guests to fill in the food spaces the rest of your guests will starve. People who swear to bring meatballs, shrimp, guacamole, chips, bruchetta and more will, if they even attend, show up carrying the same box of Trader Joe’s assorted cookies. You will have 78 of these boxes by the end of the night.
I do not know why.
I only know this, the cardinal rule of party food: If you plan to host you absolutely cannot depend on people to bring what they say they will; much less to bring something that will round out the menu you wind up having to plan (because people are slackers and they suck and why are you attempting this social stuff anyway? Really? Because no one else ever seems to be on the holiday party wagon and maybe they all figured out a long time ago that spending the equivalent of your rent to keep 11 people entertained for four hours is really, really not worth it).
Also, veggies and dip never get eaten. The dip does, the veggies don’t. Save yourself the wilted snap peas and broccoli, throw out a handful of baby carrots and be done with it.