For the first two months of our residency, our condo was in beta. We spent much of that time working out the kinks and streamlining the hospitality process. As things got unpacked and landscape became more familiar, the level of hosting that we were comfortable with grew. We started off with a four-person dinner party, expanded to a TV night, then game night, and finally, as the big test run before going live, Thanksgiving. When that went off practically hitch-free, we knew we were going to be ready for the 1.0 release party: Housewarming.
Our plan was to invite everyone we knew and let the place fill up. This was our home’s coming out, its debutante ball. We even sent out fancy invites. For the week leading up to the party we put on our toques and played caterer, preparing and then refrigerating dishes in preparation. Saturday we cleaned all day. Then on Sunday we opened the doors at noon, and let the warmth roll in.
The hard thing about having an open house last nine hours is that you’re inevitably going to get an early crowd and a late crowd. And when there’s just four people sitting around waiting for the party to begin, a host tends gets a little nervous, especially if that host already suffers from chronic is-everyone-having-fun-itis. Fortunately the early crowd were close enough friends that it didn’t matter, and besides, they had first dibs on all the grub we had to offer.
Eventually the crowd reached critical mass and the party continued its own momentum. The table near the door, which began empty except for the guestbook, started to fill up with gifts and wine. I wasn’t expecting the gifts. I was prepared for the onslaught of wine, which is why we intentionally avoided buying any drinks ourselves. But the gifts — wow. We have very generous friends and relatives. Most people gave us kitchen tools, which is smart, because they know they’ll likely be invited over to reap the benefits of said tool. Vegetable slicers: the gift that keeps on giving.
Before the party, I had worried that we hadn’t prepared enough food. That’s what I do: I worry about food. Sarah did what she does: reassured me we’d be fine, and then gave me another task to give my simple mind something else to worry about. She was right, of course, we had just the right amount. (Including some cookies to bring to work the next day.) About two-thirds in, I decided to cook up some chicken satay, since we had already made the peanut sauce and, well, we had the chicken. It was a quick and easy process, and had the added benefit of creating so much smoke as to drive everyone out of the kitchen and into the living room. Note to future partythrowers: Kitchen getting overcrowded? Burn something.
At 9:30, when the last guest left, and we were still on our feet despite a whole day of hosting, I knew it had been a success. With a few nods to the wonders of modern technology (the dishwasher, the dustbuster, plastic cups and paper plates), we had the place cleaned up in no time. A little bit later we were in bed in our new home, but not the new home we’d lived in for two months. This NEW new home was open for business, and from the way things went on its opening night, I think it’s going to be a smash.
(As always, more Housewarming pictures can be found on flickr.)