A friend of mine gave me a gentle push to finally do a Christmas party this year. For several years, I had been hosting a "non traditional" Christmas party at my apartment, and I invited everyone who could attend. The more the merrier.
I'm fairly sure that my first real "dinner" party was my 2005 "Asian Dinner Party", where I made a huge assortment of Chinese/Japanese dishes for everyone, which included: won-ton soup, udon soup, dumplings, pork and green onions, fried rice, and a bunch of other things (including sugar cookies for desert). I slaved over the stove for hours (days, really) and everything was made entirely from scratch. Thankfully, everything was delicious, everyone had a great time, and I was happy to cook for my friends. Prior to this party, we only had casual get-togethers.
I haven't hosted a Christmas party since I bought the house in 2010. And my excuse has been that the house is a disaster and I didn't feel like it (since it's generally a lot of work and planning).
But this year my friend Gen told me that I should make one anyways, and that all of my friends know that it's a mess because I'm renovating, and they don't care. And she has a point.
So with that, I decided to post an invite on Facebook, and I'm aiming for a close friends only, "Last Minute Christmas Party", with mostly just people that I'm fairly sure will be able to attend. This makes things less stressful for me, since I usually have to hunt people down to find out if they're coming or not.
I also planned a very simple (non Christmassy) menu of:
- Caesar Salad
- Chicken Noodle Soup (since I have a few fussy eaters)
- Chili & Buns
- with Wine / Soft Drinks
I haven't decided if I want to do a dessert, but if I do it will be something like brownies & ice cream (since I've been craving some and it's an easy dessert to make).
With all that said, I'm assuming that all 8 invited guests will show (though 2-3 may not), and if I have anything "extra" then too bad. With that in mind, I've started to hunt down decorating items, dishes, and planning some sort of table setting.
I already have a lot of stuff still packed (decorations & dishes), and I've been hanging artificial spruce branches, bows, and other wreaths and decorations around the main floor.
I also went to Value Village (hey I'm on a TIGHT budget this year) to see if I could hunt down any good finds. I actually got really lucky and bought 2 beautiful (festive) table cloths for 6-7$ each. One is a bright red with 3 patterned (in white and black) stripes, while the other is a "Country Plaid" type pattern in a light green.
I also went and got a few things from the dollar store, like clear plastic table cloth protectors (since a bunch of us are accident prone and I don't want to ruin my nice newly acquired table cloths), more artificial spruce garlands and bows, and an additional cheapie red table cloth. Then I made another stop and picked up some candy for party favours. And lastly, I went to Wal-Mart and picked up some silk flowers for centre pieces/decorations.
One thing I'm excited about, though, is that I can FINALLY put my Currier & Ives dinnerware to good use. I've had this lovely old fashioned set of dishes for several years, and I have yet to use it.
The newspaper wrappings on it are from 2007, and I wouldn't be surprised if I bought it around that time, or not long after. I know I bought it while I was still living at the apartment. I happened to find this "set of 9 settings" at a yard sale for pretty cheap. I think I paid around 30 or 35$ for the whole box full. The reason that the "set of 9" is in quotes is because I'm pretty sure that it was originally a set of 10, since I have a one or two items in the set with 10 each. I was told that no pieces were chipped, but this was a lie, and I didn't look too carefully through the box before buying it. As it turns out, there are 7 chipped pieces, and one with a huge blob of clear glaze (right in the middle of one of the unchipped dinner plates). If I count the pieces missing to make a complete set of 10 (including replacing the chipped ones) I'd need an additional 12 pieces.
I actually never really looked up any information on this set until this evening, and I'm surprised to find that it's actually worth a bit of money. The average "street price" (eBay or Etsy) is around 5-10$ per piece! So those 12 replacement pieces would set me back about double or triple what I paid for the whole set.
Here's the bulk of it (note the green plaid table cloth and silk flowers, which aren't really arranged yet):
Luckily the chips are very small, and I'm not too bothered by most of them (though one plate has like 3 chips on it). I only have 5 "good" dinner plates, so some of the chipped ones will be used anyways. I'm 99% sure NO ONE will notice. That is, unless they've read this first.
Here's what a full place setting would look like (with all 6 pieces). In there is a dinner plate, soup bowl, bread plate, dessert plate, and a cup & saucer.
I'm really not sure if I want to use those fun blue striped napkins. They're the only ones I have, and I love them (also never used them yet), but they don't really match the Christmas theme. I have nothing blue except maybe some Christmas ornaments (balls?), which I might be able to work in there? Also, I will NOT be using all 6pcs for the settings. I'll be using 3, and if people want coffee or tea, then I'll use the cups/saucers "per person" as required. It will mostly be just the plate, bowl, and bread plate. I'll have a water glass, and a wine glass.
I was also happy to see that the set also has a bunch of other pieces that I could add to it, like a gravy boat, butter dish, serving platters, and a salt and pepper shaker. I don't think I'd really need any of these pieces, but maybe the gravy boat or S&P shakers would be nice to have.
Apparently this set was manufactured up until around 1986, and is now discontinued. I would not have thought this set was that old, since it looks like it was barely ever used (probably only once a year since then, and then boxed and put away when the owners didn't like it anymore and sold it). The only reason I know that it's not brand new is that there are a few chips, and the odd piece has one or two barely visible knife scratches on them.
I really do like the pattern, though. It reminds me of some similar dishes we had when I was younger, and also of some dishes that my grandmother had.
So what do you guys think? Should I try to find red napkins to complement the table cloth and look more Christmassy, or just go ahead with the funky blue ones?
I also need to see if I can find my cutlery. I have a nice set somewhere that I've also never used... I swear I'm not a pack-rat!