We had a marvelous party last night!
We called it our “last hurrah” before the re-start of school. Jason, Erik, and I all hosted. We had about fifteen people over, and we sat around our two apartments and ate and drank and talked. It was a nice mix of folks, extremely heavy on the grad students, but a good combination of old friends and new acquaintances. I played Omara Portuondo and The Triplets of Belleville soundtrack and we all had a good time.
I couldn’t be bothered to run around taking pictures, so here’s the only photo on my camera (taken by, I think, Patrick):
Jason and I both really enjoy playing host, and I think we are both good at it. Erik did himself (and me) proud too. (Also have it be known: we looked quite nice, all three of us.) We had gone out earlier in the day and amassed a ton of drinks, and ingredients for food. I spent the afternoon and early evening cooking and baking, and when Jackie arrived she also brought tons of food. I think about half the guests also brought drinks, some of them quite a haul. It can be safely said that no one left hungry – or even remotely not-full.
cheese balls (not very interesting)
palmiers (everyone too full to pay them any attention?)
wild salmon dip*
puff-pastry cheese straws
homemade lime soda** (much appreciated by the drivers and other nondrinkers)
celery with horseradish cream cheese
Jackie’s beef crostini with horseradish cream
Jackie’s orange-cardamom cupcakes
Jason’s Beard Papa eclairs
I think what surprised me most, but what I most enjoyed, about our party was how graciously our guests behaved. One doesn’t normally think of grad students as gracious, but everyone truly was. Maybe there is something in our apartment that inspires respectful good manners? That would be nice! We received some lovely words of thanks and appreciation from everyone who came to share the evening, and everyone seemed genuinely to enjoy being there. I guess another way of describing it is that it was a good atmosphere.
Oh, and I almost forgot! Of course Tisha hid in the bedroom the whole night long, but Lyapa was honored guest of the evening, really. She circulated the party like a pro, making eloquent conversation with everyone, doing a lion’s share of geting people talking and having a good time. Any host-ish stress only manifested itself when someone accidentally stepped on her toward the end of the evening, and she got quite upset and lost her temper for a moment. But otherwise, she handled the night smoothly like the minor celebrity she is.
One thing I’ve learned in the past year… no, two things. The first is that it is really, really important to make time to spend with one’s friends. There is no substitute for laughter and love, and the best way to get both is to just keep bringing people together for good times.
The second thing is that I really enjoy planning and hosting gatherings. I guess I should have known this from a long time ago, because my family has always basically held open house whenever anyone wanted to come over, and I continued the tradition in my Berkeley apartment as early as my sophomore year. But I think what feels different now is I feel like I’ve matured a lot as a host and party-thrower; before, I felt less comfortable inviting people I didn’t know, or sharing the host-y glory with anyone else. I also don’t think I was as skilled at maneuvering through groups and getting conversation flowing as I am now.
After our shindig, I realized that I have a talent for getting people together, feeding them, and anticipating what will make them happy and not feel awkward (I hope you agree!). It gives me great pleasure to act on this talent and see people enjoying themselves as a result of my preparations. One thing that made me very happy last night was that through the goodness of others and a few phone calls, I was able to find a ride for someone who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to come. This sounds like a cheesy customer-service ad, but I really do take pride in going the extra mile to make all our guests feel like they’re cared about and attended to, and I really hope that people do feel this way when they come over to our place.
Now for a day of work and recovery!
*Wild Salmon Dip
In food processor, combine ½ can Alaskan wild salmon, 8 ounces cream cheese, about 1/3 c finely diced red onions, and 1½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika. Serve with crackers or bread.
Combine juice of 1 lime, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 3/4c sparkling water. Serve cold. Multiply recipe to serve a group.
[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]