Have I ever told you about the time I threw a party and no one came? I’m sure I haven’t. It’s not a story I lead with. It was a long time ago. I was a giddy newlywed and put a lot of effort into the party with custom invitations and delicious food. The party was, incidentally, a favor for a friend. On a different day, I might have told you that in itself was the problem, but that’s not exactly true. I enjoy throwing parties for other people, to celebrate them or their children or their business or their accomplishments. This one was a failure from minute one. Awkward and terrible and I didn’t think I’d ever recover as a hostess.
I did rebound from that one, barely, yet still in the last several years of entertaining regularly, I’ve had the biggest of disasters. I want you to know that after every single one of these, I have fully cried.
- There was the time I invited a slew of people over for an afternoon party where I’d spent a ton of time making perfect BBQ for sandwiches. Another guest showed up unannounced with a crock pot full of their new BBQ recipe. And by the end of the night, theirs was gobbled up. Mine was not.
- There was the time I cooked a truly great meal for people I desperately wanted to impress, but poor planning meant I served it to them cold. Very, very cold.
- There was the time I was cooking for a houseful of people and at the last minute when we opened the packages of raw chicken to cook, it was bad. Very, very bad. Food poisoning bad.
- There was the weekend I poured my heart and soul into a dinner with my best recipes, and the next night our weekend guests so completely out-cooked me, I was embarrassed and quiet the whole meal.
- There was the holiday I volunteered to bring a crucial side dish, and I mucked it up so badly. But it would have been horribly inappropriate to show up empty-handed, so I just took the obviously not-right Americana pot of ruin and smiled like nothing was wrong.
None of these instances, save the empty party, meant much to anyone else except for me. By the time I encountered the bad chicken, I knew enough to speed into town to pick up pizza and the entire evening was salvaged before sunset. Maybe it was even better.
If I could re-do the ice-cold scenario, I would have scooped up everyone’s plates and nuked ‘em. Perhaps that’s trading one embarrassment for another, but at least we’d all have enjoyed the food more.
We learn as we go and though I wish this was coming from a place of wisdom, I know I’m just at the beginning of these types of stories. If you’re hosting friends and family and turkey in the next few weeks, scouring the internet for sparkly place setting ideas, know that something might go wrong. In fact, something is likely to go at least a little wrong, enough to upset you but not enough to become family legend.
We are not living in a holiday movie.
photo by Susanne Nilson via flickr