First Annual Holiday Party (Part 1 of 3)

20 guests invited, 14 guests accepted, meal plan completed, and decorations mentally laid out. The party planning was done, it’s now the execution of the plan. One thing to always be mindful is that all best laid plans will have a few unforeseen wrinkles.

The plan for my first holiday party started to go awry Friday (the day before the party) when Murphy (of Murphy’s law) decided to join me. Murphy was in full swing around 10AM Saturday morning (the day of the party). 

I took Friday (the day before the party) off from work to give me plenty of time to buy all the ingredients, purchase any last minute items, and to complete the cleaning, decorating, and finishing up the few remaining set up items for my party guests. 

One of the main dishes I was serving calls for crab. For individual fishermen, crabs are in season during the months ending in “r”. The commercial crabbing season are only in months ending in “er”. So being December, you would think I could find crabs readily available at the local grocery store. Well of course not!! What was I thinking? Three hours past and several grocery stores later I found some decent crabs. Did I mention they were frozen and needed an additional two to three hours to be thawed in a cold water bath? The thawing would have to start when I get back home. Oh well, on to the next items on my to do list.

Cash and Carry was the next stop! Cash and Carry is a restaurant supply store that is open to the public. They have everything from meat produce to kitchenware. I found the Mississippi style pork ribs and thought to myself, “Score!”  Another item on the menu was chicken wings. Again you would think a readily available cut of meat – and that would be available in bulk at this restaurant supply store.” Well thanks again Murphy!”, I whispered under my breath. There was no chicken wings to be found. I quickly located and grabbed the bulk bacon package and headed for the check out line. On to the next store!!

I was relieved and ecstatic to find the remaining ingredients – jumbo shrimp, smaller sized shrimp, pork butt roast, pork steaks, chicken wings, the two types of dried noodles, and the jalapeños. One final stop into the local grocery store to pickup a few more ingredients, and it’s back to the house!!

At the house the crabs were put in several pots with cold water to thaw, the other meats into the fridge, and the red wines were opened to breathe. Next was preparing the ribs. 

So previously, based on the labeling on the ribs, I thought I was purchasing Mississippi style pork ribs. To my surprise they weren’t…these still had the fat membrane as well as the grizzle or cartilage parts. “Crap, crap, crap!”  Two and a half hours later the ribs were trimmed, my special dry rub recipe applied, Saran wrapped, and in the fridge to chill. My ribs require at least 12 hours to marinate in my special dry rub.

Glancing to the wall clock it read, “3:30PM”. “Where did the time go!!”I almost yelled out loud. I left the house around 8AM that day and now it’s half past 3 o’clock in the afternoon. “Fine!!”, I grunted. Off to finish the last half of the to do list. 

Darting in and out of three stores later and fighting the rush hour traffic, I collected the folding card table and chairs, cloth napkins, tablecloth, and other miscellaneous items for the house. 

7PM and back at the house! Way behind, I kicked it into the next gear and completed several things in tandem…the newly purchased linens were washed, ironed and put on the table. The napkins were folded and the rest of the table was set. House vacuumed and bathrooms cleaned. 

By this time it’s midnight. The thawing crabs were next. The six crabs were cleaned and ready for the meat to be picked. No time to pick out the meat from the shells now – that’s on the back burner and part of food preparation work tomorrow (or should I say later on today)! Luckily, I’ll have reinforcements via my son and his girlfriend. 

Onto the buffet table! Three chafing pans were washed and setup on the folding table as well as two crockpots. “Whew, it’s now 2AM on Saturday and I’m beyond tired.  Off to bed…


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