My mom has a knack (or addiction, depending on who you ask) for hosting. Each year, we host at least two large gatherings at our house--Thanksgiving and her office party. Our Thanksgiving this year was small compared to previous years, with only 40 guests. Her office party usually has about 200 people. For Thanksgiving, our house feels pretty cozy with tables set up in various places with chairs squeezed close and the food served buffet style. In the house, we prepare turkey, tofurkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. The rest of the food is assigned and brought pot luck style.
For her office party, the format is open house. People are welcome to drop by anytime within a four hour window. When I was little, my cousin, brother, and I had the important job of taking the coats. We would put them in the guest room upstairs and would try to create a system for easily finding jackets. By the end of the night, the room was so full that we often had to have people come upstairs to help search for their own coats. In the new house, there is a big coat closet which makes the searching much easier. My mom handles the food by cooking and catering some and then using prepared foods from Costco and Trader Joes.
The work for these events is insane. My brother and I often complained about the clean up and organizing that goes into making it happen. The socializing can also be intense. I also feel very exhausted by the time the evening is over. Although at Thanksgiving this year, I did not help out as much because the Little Mister needed to be fed and is not a very fast eater; I actually missed half of dinner and only helped to make some gravy. I often wonder why my mom does it. There are other family members who could host and there are probably other office parties to attend. However, when the house is filled with noise and merriment, I can understand why my mom does this-- she created a love center, a space where it is okay to celebrate and be together, to stop and appreciate good food and good company.
Even though I have lived in MA for over five years (!!), the only events I have hosted are book clubs and kid parties. The thought of hosting feels quite daunting given the scale to which my closest role model does it. Our house also seems small compared to other homes where we have attended parties. However, I want to have more good cheer and merriment in the new year. I want to help build a sense of community. I love when our house is filled with laughter and happy chatter. When my mom was visiting, we had some neighbors over for dinner. It was very nice, but I definitely had a safety net with mom doing all of the cooking.
For 2015, one of my resolutions is to host *at least* one party that is not a book club or kid's birthday party. When I was living in Seattle, I attended and enjoyed a Soup Swap. I found some guidelines for how to host my own. I also like the idea of hosting a regular pasta night; similar to this format. Although a regular gathering feels very aspirational at this point. If you have party ideas or advice for how to host without stress, I would love to hear them.