What it’s all about

This is what it's all about ... having fun with friends and family (in this case, at our annual Solstmas party at Liberty Lounge)

This blog is mostly for my own amusement, a chance to geek out about extravagant foods and fancy cocktails, and especially to jot down recipes or ideas that I’m excited about so that I have a record of them for the future.

But, if I have any hope for those who read my blog, it’s that they’re inspired to entertain themselves. I’m a firm believer than spending time with the people in your life is better than watching TV, that sharing a meal or a cocktail you made yourself with friends and family is one of the best ways to show them that you love them. And I think that the time you spend entertaining is repaid with a huge dividend when you see how much fun everyone is having.

I’m not sure that this message always come through in my many posts about my favorite desserts or swanky speakeasies in New York City, which is why I was so gratified to get this email recently from Stephanie, a family friend who follows my blog and can always be counted on to try the most adventurous options on the cocktail menu when I’m making cocktails at my parents’ house in Houston. Here’s her letter and pictures, shared with her permission …

Attached are pictures of Hostess Diary–inspired get-togethers. My New Years resolution was to have one or more guests once a month for dinner or drinks. Easter ham dinner with your folks …

Stephanie's Easter dinner

My other guest had a gallbladder attack and related surgery. I delivered dinner to her house instead of her joining us.

Girls’ campout with a Greek theme …

Girls' Greek picnic

… NYE Bunco with friends and neighbors …

Bunco party on New Year's Eve

I had your folks over in Jan for prime rib dinner …

Stephanie's table setting

… and my Feb dinner was stuffed flounder with neighbors.

This is precisely what I want readers to take away from my blog. I’d love to be able to order expensive truffles from D’Artagnan and have the talent and money to arrange beautiful tablescapes à la Martha Stewart. I emphatically don’t. But I have great friends who are willing to pitch in at every party by bringing a fun bottle of booze or by washing cocktail glasses midway through the evening. I have a larger-than-usual apartment with two fireplaces and a great view of downtown San Francisco. And I have a boundless enthusiasm for making food and cocktails, which allows me to host some memorable parties.

So what do you have that you can share with your friends? Maybe you have a big back yard with a barbecue and you know how to make killer ribs. Maybe you’re good at organizing your friends in playing party games. Even if you have a tiny home, a dinner party for four probably isn’t an impossibility, even if you have to sit on pillows around the coffee table. Even if your entertaining budget is miniscule, you might be able to buy some triple-creme brie and a hunk of aged goat gouda to make a beautiful cheese platter, which guests can nibble on while they do a blind taste test of bottles of wine that they have brought themselves.

My point is that the rewards of entertaining are many, and that there are a nearly infinite number of ways to gather your friends or family for a magical evening. Many years ago, in a tiny little studio apartment, I hosted parties where guests were asked to wear their jammies or something comfortable and bring a short story or children’s story to read to the other guests. Not all, but some of those evenings were utterly magical. When I lived in a 450-square-foot cottage where I couldn’t fit more than four people in the living room, I would wait until we had the rare heat wave in San Francisco and organize a last-minute mojito party in my yard. There were only a handful of nights each year when it was warm enough to comfortably hang out in the yard, but that just made the parties that much more special.

Whether your talent is cooking, cocktail making, decorating your home, or just knowing a posse of  interesting people who should get to know one another, you have the makings of a great party. And whether your home and budget lend itself toward a cocktail party for forty or a dinner party for four,   entertaining is probably within your reach.

If you have any entertaining success stories (or disasters … it happens!), let me know and I might share them on this blog.

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