Party Ideas I: Heather Christo
Local food and entertaining blogger shares some tips for couples showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and feeding mothers-in-law.
Girl at a Party: Oh, a wedding magazine, how fun! Actually, I can’t believe I just said that; I’m in two weddings this fall and planning all the parties is stressing me out. I’m not having very much fun.
Me: Hm, yeah, that’s a problem. Parties planned in the absence of fun can sometimes equal parties that aren’t any fun to be at. Let me see if I can bring in some help.
Here are the native Seattleite’s tips for a number of pre-celebration fests.
The Bridal Shower
Christo gets this one; she says she’s been "gridlocked with wedding showers the last few summers." If one thing can keep a girl moving, however, it’s the season. "We’ve got such great access to fresh flowers!" Christo says, advising you head to your local farmers market, select one bloom—peonies are never wrong—and go with it. Alternately, go with a single color—yellow sounds fun—and pick a number of blooms in that shade. This less is more approach yields centerpieces and arrangements that are basically impossible to screw up.
Christo also likes decorating with fresh fruit, either in place of flowers or in addition to them. Think berries and nectarines, placed in bowls or piled at base of botanical arrangements. "They’re pretty and also interactive," Christo says. "Guests make it a scavenger hunt out of it, like, ‘Who ate all the cherries?’"
Budget Summit Dinner Party with the In-Laws
Not many parties start with the word "Budget," and for good reason. But can you think of a better way to couch the unavoidable discussion?
Christo suggests taking difficult subjects outside and utilizing a casual environment for heavy topics. In other words, fire up the grill. The mother of two (makes her an expert on families, I’m thinking) suggests keeping the menu light and seasonal, and serving everything family style.
The Couples Shower
The former pastry chef was married herself just five years ago, and she recalls that get-togethers with friends were the best part of the pre-wedding ramp up. If you’re set to host a couple’s shower (so modern) and dinner seems like too much, do a cocktail hour. Serve a specialty cocktail (eliminating the need for a full bar) and appetizers.
When more than 20 people are expected, Christo recommends a thoughtful, luxed up cheese platter and crudite. Don’t groan or call it a cliche; the entertainer says presentation and sourcing makes it new. In other words, no toothpicks in bland cheddar. If you have a kitchen island or a large table, start by picking glossy green leaves from your yard or a nearby park, arranging them on the surface, and placing the cheese directly on top. Christo suggests making a mosaic-like arrangement of dips, nuts, and cheese (think graphic, quilt-like patterns), and then just walking away from it. Folks will graze, and you can enjoy yourself. Check the slideshow here for more inspiration and instruction.
The Bachelor Party
Huh? Yeah, I asked Christo what a bunch of good-time yet enlightened dudes could do for a food-centric party. "Do men eat at bachelor parties?," she asked me. It was a good question, and I had to admit to never attending one, but still, I want to believe that in a world where Anthony Bourdain is a guru and a sex symbol, some guys somewhere might be willing to skip billiards and bad bars for a manly feast.
Christo conceded, recalling that all she wanted at her bachelorette affair was "an all-girl dinner party with tons of champagne—even if it was potluck-style, I just wanted to be with friends." She suggests that like-minded fellows grill up T-bone steaks and prawns and serve them with a variety of compound butters. Can I interest you in some blue cheese butter, sir? Why, yes, the chef does have a recipe for that on Heather Christo Cooks.
Dudes might also go for gourmet bar snacks: Handcut potato chips, homemade dips, olives. Add a rooftop deck and red wine—or splurge on a bartender or card dealer— and you’re in business.