Holiday Party Prep

How is everyone this Tuesday before Christmas? I’m feeling better about being prepared for the big day, considering the fact that its now exactly one week away. Yesterday, I felt like I ran a Christmas marathon which included finishing almost all of my Christmas shopping, lots of holiday errands, present wrapping and Christmas card writing. Today is reserved for cookie baking and I hope to be completely finished with everything by Thursday so that I can relax and enjoy the holiday parties and time with family that are coming up this weekend. Where are you guys with being “ready” for Christmas?

In the middle of getting ready for the actual day of Christmas, I’m also trying not to forget about our annual Christmas party which is scheduled this year for the Saturday after Christmas. We like having our party after Christmas, between Christmas and New Years. It makes Christmas last a bit longer and we have found that more people are free to come after Christmas than in the weekends before so it works out well.

This is our third year throwing our bash and I’m starting to get the hang of it. Typically we have about 30-40 people coming in and out of the house that evening and I make all the food myself. Yes, its alot of work, I won’t pretend like I’m a miracle worker, but this type of work I actually enjoy. Entertaining is one of my favorite things to do, whether its a small group or a big party, I love it all.

I wait to buy all my groceries until after Christmas so that my ingredients are fresh but right about now I start making lists, lists and more lists. Currently I have two lists going and a timeline. I’ve learned that when planning a party, organization and a timeline are absolutely the key to saving your sanity. If you can think of as much in advance as possible and write it down, then you don’t have to try and remember it later and feel overwhelmed or scatterbrained. (I hope that my baby brain doesn’t make this year’s planning too difficult.)

My first list is the list that includes all the food and beverages for the menu. I split them up into desserts and hors d’oeuvres and drinks. It’s not fancy by any stretch of the word, its just a small tablet that I add to for a few weeks before the party when I think of something I want to include.

After the menu is finalized, I’ll make the big grocery list which usually ends up being two or three lists according to where I’m shopping; one for the grocery store, one for market and another one for any specialty stores I may need to stop at.

The final list is actually the timeline. I like to start it 4 days ahead and I write what I want to accomplish on that day. As I get to the day of the party the timeline gets more detailed with actual times of day that I want to get things done and get scheduled down to the minute the day of the party. Yes, I realize this reveals how anal I truly am about schedules and organization but this is what keeps me sane when planning a party and honestly I recommend it to you. If you can see exactly everything that needs to be done and what time it needs to be accomplished, you’re more likely to stay on task and even have time to get yourself ready for your guests, which means you’re less likely to find yourself at the eleventh hour scrambling around, yelling at your husband as guest arrive to find you still in your PJ’s covered in food from cooking all day.

Here’s my “simple” timeline:

That’s where I am with holiday party prep. Anyone else have any tips for throwing a party and making it easier on yourself? This year, Eric will be taking a much larger role in the cooking and prep since my kitchen time has been decreasing but he’s already eager to help so I’m not worried. Have any of you got any great party disaster stories? Something always goes wrong, you have to count on that but its how you handle it that can make or break the party spirit. I’d love to hear from you!

 

A French Thanksgiving

When did it become the middle of December? My mind is still back before Thanksgiving! Things have been picking up over here in the Red Velvet household and I can barely keep up. First things first, I can’t believe its December 13th and its my first December blog post, my apologies to all. I really kept thinking it was only December 5th or 6th until I went to schedule an appointment today and realized that in exactly 2 weeks, Christmas will be over, YIKES!

My last post was pre-Thanksgiving and we’ve been busy. Over Thanksgiving we took our last big trip before the baby to Normandy and Paris, France. We spent Thanksgiving eating French food in Paris and loving every second of it (of course we missed seeing family too!).  It was a learning experience for both of us, traveling in the second trimester and aside from some back pain caused by too much walking, we enjoyed our time together. France is one of our favorite places in the world and we can go back again and again and never get tired of it.

This was our first trip to Normandy and although it was the off season, we were able to see most of the sights of the D-Day invasion which hold a special place in Eric’s family. His grandfather was a part of that historic and incredible day; we think we even found the church yard where he was given the mission of setting up communications early in the morning of June 6. If you’ve never been there, go. Most Americans have heard the details of that invasion in history class and watched Saving Private Ryan but to actually be there, on the beaches where so many young men lost their lives, it touches you in a way that you don’t expect. Those men are true heroes who saved the world from evil, against all odds.

Here’s Eric on Omaha Beach:

Another highlight of Normandy was seeing Mont Saint Michael; I’ve wanted to see this place for a very long time. It’s a very old abbey built on a rocky island that is surrounded by water when the tide comes it, but when the tide is out, you can walk right across the sand to it. It’s also incredibly beautiful with its Gothic architecture and the way it rises out of the sand.

This preggo walked all the way to the top of that mountain, on cobblestones I might add and was treated to one of the best crepes/omelette things in my life on the way down, complete with caramel apples. YUM! I mean, check it out for yourself, they made these omelettes over a wood fire and its so fluffy, I have no idea how they do it but it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.

 

Some other highlights of the trip were seeing Rouen Cathedral, made famous by Monet who painted it over and over again in an attempt to capture it in different light. We got to see the Bayeux Tapestry, the longest remaining tapestry in the world of its kind documenting the life of William the Conquerer; it was pretty incredible.

We spent the last days in Paris and since we’re becoming regulars in that city, we didn’t have a whole lot of tourist attractions on our list, we’ve seen most of them already. Mostly we ate at some amazing places, walked around, shopped and we did hit up a museum that has been closed for renovations every other time we’ve been in Paris, the Orangerie. You can find it at the end of the Tuileries, close to the Champs Elysees and Louvre. It houses circular rooms in which Monet painted canvases of his water lillies that encompass the entire rooms. You’re literally surrounded by water lillies. We must have sat there taking them in for at least 30 minutes each. I’m so happy it was open this time! If you’re a fan of impressionism, make sure you see this in Paris, they also have a wonderful permanent collection which includes works by Renoir, Picasso, Cezanne and many more.

I’ll go ahead and blame our great trip for throwing me off my game and messing with my internal calendar, perhaps skipping Thanksgiving had more of an effect on me than I realized. The other game changer for me lately has been my back trouble. Each day is different, sometimes it hurts a lot and other days its better but I’ve started noticing that when I spend a lot of time cooking in my kitchen, my pain increases. I’m pretty sad about it and as a result I haven’t been cooking much which means nothing to blog about.

I do plan on having my mom help me make Christmas cookies so I’ll share with you those details and we’re having our annual post-Christmas bash so I’ll be cooking and prepping for that. Thank goodness for my helpful sous chef (Eric) who has been doing everything and anything I need and making sure I rest. Not sure how I’d manage without him!

In an attempt to keep myself accountable and actually write these posts, here’s my list of promised December posts:

  • Christmas Home Decor
  • Christmas Cookies/Baking
  • Holiday Party Planning
  • Holiday Party Prep
  • Holiday Party Recap
  • Anything else that comes up!

Thanks for reading and I hope you’re having a joyous holiday season! Take a moment to enjoy it and slow down.