Had the good fortune to entertain my work colleagues and their families recently, my place being the perfect spot to pop the kids in the pool while parents put their feet up and enjoy a well deserved chill.
Now this could have been just a simple, savvy BBQ sausage sizzle…we all love a snag ‘n sauce in bread, its an Aussie tradition after all and the gang is more than happy to just hang a while…but no!
It started with a simple menu. Which needed a simple theme. And complimentary decor. A gift for each guest. Flowers, games, prizes, kiddy activities, more prizes. Tasked with feeding just 24, I’d turned the whole damn gig into a juggernaut! But isn’t that half the fun of entertaining?
My colleagues spend their limited down time rushing kids between dancing classes, football, little league, sitters, doctors, schools, sleep overs, grocery shopping, housework, study and work…and being kidless myself, the whole thought of this relentless activity does my head in! These folk seriously need relaxation time and as making guests relaxed and comfortable is what hosting’s all about, we need cocktails stat!
I find greeting guests as they arrive with a good cocktail (virgin or otherwise) always takes the edge off…my edge too I must say! Couple this with big kids into pool, smaller tots on an easter egg hunt, then furnishing all with an ice cold drink and the first box successfully ticked!
Now, with partners who only get to meet each other on these occasions, selecting activities to engage and entertain and remove temptation to talk work or move to the ‘man corner’ is also essential. In lieu of a cricket pitch, a good robust word game should do the trick. Introducing games can bring forth mutterings of ‘must we?’ But I say well yes we must!
It’s standard to get a few whinges to begin with, however choosing games that challenge the intellect, even as simple as guessing who voiced a movie one liner, ignites the competitive amongst them and within minutes the movie buffs are in action, the aspiring actors in full swing and the wine flowing. So who said ‘tell em he’s dreamin!’? And who played the character? And what was the movie’s title? You get the picture? Haa ha!
And which of us was once in a rock band? Had been a Croupier? Could recite the Alphabet backwards? Had sponsored a Donkey? Danced with Princess Di? And who knew our boss loved Parasailing? ‘Amazing Me’ – an additional guessing game, gave the whole gang fabulous insights into the rich tapestries binding each of our lives well beyond our company’s walls.
Of course all that competition builds appetite and thankfully my Asian inspired menu tickled everyone’s taste buds, chopsticks and bamboo boats the perfect weaponry while small ribboned chinese takeaway boxes made cute little carriers for fortune cookie gifts.
Bright paper lanterns fluttering in the breeze, good conversation and laughter, the Ministry of Sound DJ compilations combined with the cadences of giggling happy kids wafting across the balmy afternoon… well that took care of the ambience.
Exhausted kids still scored their snags ‘n bread, adults enjoyed their ‘adult’ nosh, we discovered a whole lot more about each other and everyone smiling in the happy snaps. Seems the juggernaut weaved it’s rightful magic. Now here’s a toast to another brilliant year team, it’s an absolute pleasure working with you!