I cordially invite you to join me in my new party planning section of That’s SO Jenn, where I will share some of my top tips and ideas for a great soiree that will have your guests saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
A great party lends itself to good conversation, loads of laughs, and fond memories after the guests leave. There should be surprises mixed with comforts that make your guests feel welcome and cared for. The best parties have a take-away, whether it be a wow factor that has everybody talking, or a tangible gift to bring home.
As I mentioned on my recent appearance on CT Style, this past weekend, my husband and I threw our second annual “Welcome January Pajama/Dessert party.” I came up with this idea last year when we realized it was unrealistic to throw a holiday or New Years Eve party during such a hectic season.
However, once January rolled around, we knew most of our friends were taking a break from their overscheduled calendars, and thought this would be the perfect excuse to get everyone out of the winter blues. The pajama idea was both a decision of comfort, knowing guests would be happy to go to a party sans high heels and button downs, and to set a casual atmosphere. Guests were requested to wear their plush slippers, cozy robes and PJ sets, and to find another alternative if they sleep in the nude!
As any good party should be, this one is based around food. The theme of desserts is a sweet way to kick off the new year, and something fun that we hadn’t heard being done before. Dessert is often an afterthought, and for this event, I wanted it to be the focus. I experimented with some feel-good recipes like scratch-made mini donuts, and chocolate fusilli pasta with raspberry creme fraiche. I also created some interactive stations including fresh baked waffle bowls with homemade ice creams and a toppings bar, chocolate fondue and fresh popped popcorn with flavored butters and seasonings. Friends were encouraged to bake or bring a sweet of their own, and were welcome to share recipes, cookie-swap style. I even had gourmet doggie treats for our Yorkie Mo, who was dressed in pajamas, and his visiting puppy pals. At the end of the night, I sent my friends home with goodie boxes to continue the lasting memory of a fun evening out.
To go with the cozy winter theme, we had a hot chocolate/coffee/tea station set up with milk and sugar and flavored whipped creams, marshmallows and chocolate wine (yes, chocolate wine!) and sweet liquors for those who wanted an extra kick.
Even though this is a dessert party, I still had a few savory options to balance out everyone’s sugar high. I chose particularly salty foods; rice cooker mac and cheese, sea salt chips with black bean and corn salsa and garlic stuffed olives to counteract the insanely sugary (but delicious!) cookies, brownies and pies. We gathered around the fireplace and played board games while indulging in sweets, reminiscent of a slumber party from when we were kids…with the addition of wine. The concept was so well received last year, we decided to continue the tradition and throw it again for 2012. The result? See for yourself!