I think I am just about recovered from a party we threw recently. Let me tell you about it.
Every spring, my husband invites his majors and his alumni to our house for dinner. It's both a way for us to "love on them," and a way for mathematics majors to interact with former students who are now in the work world. Usually, Paul puts off sending invitations. This is partly my fault, since he usually can't get me to commit to a date. Anyway, since the invitations go out so late, we don't usually get very many guests--maybe as many as ten. This year, he invited everyone in plenty of time, so we had twenty-seven people say they would come. TWENTY-SEVEN! That is a lot of people in our teeny-tiny house. I wasn't worried about how to feed everyone, but I was very worried about where we would put them. So while I was planning the menu, I considered a seating strategy.
The first step was removing clutter. That's a natural early stage to party preparation anyway, right? We have to clean the house. In this case, though, I made a point of removing everything that didn't really need to be in the living room. I gave these items temporary homes in the basement, in the garage, and in my bedroom. I even cleared away some framed photos to make room for beverage cups.
The next step is to pray against rain. It was still a little chilly, but I hoped to encourage some of the guests to gather outside around a fire bowl. This worked until dinner was ready. Then everyone came inside and stayed there.
I also had to think about serving food that could easily be eaten from laps. I don't have enough table seating for that many people. Many of my acquaintances (including my extended family) have large homes with eat-in kitchens and formal dining rooms, but we live in a cosy little Cape Cod. This meant I would not serve my guests at a table. Therefore, a meal that required a lot of cutting (hunks of meat, for example) was out. Have you ever tried to saw a piece of chicken with a plastic knife while balancing it on your knee? No fun. I'll tell you more about my menu in another post.
Speaking of plastic flatware, I used it. In general, I'm not a fan of disposable tableware. I prefer the real thing. I had to make an exception for this party, though. I don't have room in my kitchen or time in my life for that many dirty dishes. I did make a point, however, of getting large sturdy plates to make lap dining easier.
It all turned out fine. Yes, it was a little cramped, but when you have nice guests, they don't make a big deal about small discomforts. They just ooze gratitude for whatever we offer. We had a good time with these guests, and we were grateful for every one of them.