©2014 Chris Terrell
It’s December, and the holiday party circuit is in full swing. Even so, these days it seems as if that circuit is not as daunting as it was for our parents in the 1970s. Back then, grown-ups were always having parties or friends over for dinner, along with casseroles, cheap jug wine, big hair, big collars, and lots of music. With that kind of holiday party mojo, the 70s may have had it going on after all. Maybe there was more to the 70s than Sonny & Cher and fondue.
Two years ago, I made the fateful decision to have a holiday party that paid homage to those days. I got a Christmas tree decked out in tinsel and blinking colored lights, a blow-mold Santa and snowman, and a vintage punch bowl. The year after that, I did it again, and then again this year for the third time. I guess it’s an annual thing now. (It’s always the Saturday after the SEC Championship in case you’re down this way next year.) One friend even said, it wouldn’t be the holidays without my annual party.
This year I decided to go big and invite more people—a lot more people. The only drawback was that I couldn’t cook the food as I had done for the first and second annual holiday parties. I had no choice but to have my party catered.
As much as I enjoy cooking, especially for friends and family, having the party catered was a great idea. I entered the home stretch a lot more relaxed and a lot less stressed, which obviously made the party more enjoyable. But this was also the first party I had catered. In the past, I've resisted it because I thought it would be too expensive and because it felt like cheating.
As for the first point, having a party catered is really not that more expensive than making it yourself, especially when you account for the fact that the caterer gets the food wholesale and has the economy of scale that comes with lots of help and a commercial kitchen. You can also save some money by using your own platters and not hiring a server or bartender. As for the second point, it helped that I still made a couple of my “signature” dishes that have become hits and, quite frankly, were expected by my guests to be on the table: Caramelized Bacon and Parmesan Crisps, both of which are Ina Garten recipes. They were gone well before the chicken bites, roast beef on rolls, or the shrimp cocktail that caterer brought.
Even with a caterer, however, a party done right still takes time and effort. I had to get my place cleaned up; flowers ordered and picked up; beer and wine iced down; food plated; punch made; and candles lighted. Hard work yes, but very much worth it.
Earlier I mentioned that our parents made it seem so easy, but it probably wasn’t it. They didn’t have microwaves to heat things up. Good food was harder to come by and more expensive. Hell, they actually had to change records on the turntable! They did have one advantage, however. Back in their day, there was no Internet, no cell phones, no social media. Our parents didn’t need Facebook to stay connected. That’s what parties were for.
Don’t get me wrong. This post is not meant to be some kind of where-have-all-the-good-old-days-gone kind of rant—just the opposite. Besides, if there is one thing I noticed this year during my party. I notice that very few people were looking at their iPhones, texting, or even taking photos and selfies and posting them to Facebook. So, we may not have as many parties as we once did, but they’re not extinct. So play some Sonny and Cher on your iPod, throw on some bellbottoms, and put some Riunite on ice! The 70s are back baby!