The Best Part of Having a Party is Planning for It
Since I moved to Novato, I've developed something of a party habit. As with most ah, habits, it's expensive and stressful, but oh, what a rush! My main influencers are a good-sized kitchen and a real dining room table - two things I haven't had in ever-so long. They entice me to write up menus and draft invite lists, and I can't seem to stop. So far, I've had small dinner parties for four or six; luncheons for eight; and larger-scale parties for twenty-plus. Each and every time, as I'm running here and there, trying to find an obscure ingredient or handing over my debit card yet again, I think: this is it. I'm going to take a break from entertaining. Then one week later, I'm plotting another.
A few weeks ago, I started dreaming about a grown-up Halloween party, with a sort of Day-Of-The-Dead theme. Then I started sketching out menu ideas. I was thinking October, cold night, lots of people... hey! We should serve paella! Ironically, when the Spanish Catholics marched through Mexico, they effectively folded the Day of the Dead into All Saints Day. . . so that works, right? Sort of?
I called Adam, and we started to hatch a plan. After a long conversation over beer and tacos, we had a menu. Adam will bring paella pans. I will buy bottles and bottles of Tempranillo. We will cook all day and the party will be at night. To my surprise, nearly 30 people responded to my invite to drive out to Novato for an evening, so I've been pacing around the house for the past couple of days, listening to Antony and the Johnsons and Tom Waits while I ponder where to place the red roses and black paper flowers and how to arrange the chairs.
I dressed up the light fixtures with black lace and scraps of silk and tulle, like a Spanish mantilla. I'm not sure if this picture really captures it, but it creates a very old-world look. Yesterday, I got a haul of autumn fruit from the farmer's market yesterday for a big batch of Sangria. I'm contemplating a rich, thick hot chocolate, and I've started to soak a big hunk of salt cod for baccala.
Last night I could hardly sleep thinking of everything that could go wrong. What if the paella doesn't turn out? What if there isn't enough sangria? What if nobody has a good time? Thank goodness for Tylenol PM.