Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Fabrice and I are party people.  I mean that we both like to invite people to our house for parties.  We are very proud of being good hosts.  We enjoy showing off our French and Chinese cuisines, which are usually the food that one cannot get from regular French or Chinese restaurants.  We enjoy having friends over for good company.  Most importantly, we even enjoy the cleaning after parties - the part we work as a team, you see.  Consequently, we also get invited frequently to our friends' houses for parties.  Every single party is different and some casual, some elegant and formal, some big, some small..., we are totally enjoying our social life that this world can offer.

Since we were kind of stuck in town for an entire winter holiday, I had pushed Fabrice to throw a New Year's Eve party.  It was a last minute decision since I was tied up by some work and Fabrice was not sure whether he was up to it.  A bad start already, as you can see.  Inspired by the last two big Christmas parties that we have been to, we (ok, I) had decided to throw our New Year's Eve party in the same style.

Neither Fabrice nor I actually had organized big parties before, let alone New Year's Eve Parties, where people are expected to get drunk together!  Needless to say, it was sort of a disaster.

First, we sent out the invitation via evite, an impersonal website that people usually use to send invitations to someone they barely know each others, such as kids' parents for birthday parties!

Second, it was only a week ahead of time.  Three out of the 8 families that we had invited already had been out of town.  Thus, we could never reach critical mass of people.

Third, we asked people to arrive at 6 pm.  It would have been okay if all of us had little kids.  But most of the "out of town" families that we invited are the ones with small kids.  Only one family came with kids of our kids' ages.  Thus, for an adult New Year's Eve party, 6 pm was too early to get drunk until midnight.

Fourth, we prepared way too much food.  It was our first New Year's Eve party, Fabrice and I had different ideas about the type of food that we were going to serve.  My idea was to serve only simple and elegant finger food, but Fabrice insisted on adding some personal touch with his first experimenting dish - peppery and creamy fish.  The hot food just did not go well with wine glasses-occupied hands and rest of the finger food!

Fifth, we over-prepared for it.  How could that be, you say?  Well, Fabrice wound up spending most of his critical food-preparation time on shopping - he had to go to purchase a new table cloth at BedBath&Beyond but the mall he went did not have such a store so he had to get the table cloth from Macy.  Then he had to buy a center piece because he did not agree to my idea of using a bunch of flowers.  Yet as he could not stand the old-fashioned style of Macy for this important item, he had to go Pier1Imports at another shopping Mall for it - he got one beautiful candleholder, which I could not find from their online store: it's the combination of this and this, but only simpler and more elegant with 6 places, not just the 4-5 as the pictures show, and few candles with great fragrances.  I mean he went on Dec 31st of 2012, the last minute, to shop for decorative items while one of us, I, was home cleaning the house from head to toe!  By over preparation, I also meant that we rearranged furniture and finally we hired baby sitters for keeping the kids entertained!

Overall, the worst part was the "wait" - we have never needed to wait for our guests to arrive for any of our previous parties.  Our 5 families arrived sequentially, far apart from each others, which made the party a bit too quiet, at least for the beginning part.

Alright, our first and second families did arrive at scheduled time.  The first family has two kids who are Zhuzhu and Niuniu's daycare friends.  Thus, the kids had good time together.  Since we were expecting 5 other families, we kind of waited for the rest of the 3 to show up so that we could serve the hot food.  The members of the second family, which was consisted of 3 adults from 3 different families - one was whom we originally invited, but since his wife and their kids were out of town, he had invited his temporary "date" and her cousin who came from Holland for a visit, were already kind of drunk since they had a bottle of champagne before joining us.  As soon as they finished another bottle of champagne at our party, they decided to head to "The Downtown" - who can blame them?  If I was the Dutch guy, I would have also definitely preferred to get wasted in some random bars at a New Year's Eve in a foreign land, which sounds much more exotic.  At least, they were polite enough to wait for our third group to show up, at about an hour and a half into the party, to leave.

Our third family was a couple who had never been to our house before, thus the initial warm-up time took a bit longer, which made the situation a bit awkward since the fourth party had not shown up until almost another hour later - maybe not that long, but it felt like it, at the moment when our first family with 2 little kids was just getting ready to leave.  The kids, you see, cannot generally wait past their bed time for too long.

A perfect "come and go" party thus far!

And it had never really become a typical party where people cerebrate New Year's Eve by drinking a bit and then losing up a little more than usual.  

At this point, I had to give up the idea to have a big party.  Pulling all the chairs close to each other, I changed our standing NewYear's Eve party a regular sitting down one, which relaxed everyone remaining at the party - we were no longer anxious for anyone else's coming, we enjoyed our own selves.  Just when the 6 of us, 3 couples, chatted like old friends, our last family showed up.  He came all by himself, leaving his son and wife all by themselves at home.  His early riser son had already gone to bed.  He announced.  The New Year's cerebration in his family had started at 5 pm in honoring his Dutch visiting Mom.  Oh, well, one is better than none.  So, he received our warn welcome.  Soon,  the Dutch guy became the center of the attention, because he was introducing us various web-based techniques to digitalize the world.  By this time, the 11-yr-old daughter of our third family called, for the third time, to ask her parents to come home.  The parents however, were enjoying the party quite well by now so they delayed their the parenting duty for another hour or so.  They headed home around 11 pm.

The rest of the evening was more like a regular party of ours - small group of people chatting around one topic at a time.  It was certainly not a typical New Year's Eve party, but it's cozy, warn, and brainy,...

...which ended few minutes after the midnight.  We cheated to open a final champagne bottle 10 minutes early to wish each others a happy new year.

Considering a slow start with variable times for our guests to come and go, it was a bit of disappointing.  We could never get a chance to have anyone to drink more than they should.  Also, some of our guests did not have a chance to meet each other.

Lesson number 1, for New Year's Eve parties, better start late than early - most of our guests do intend to stay past midnight!

Lesson number 2, for parties to be fun, invite either a small group of close friends or a large group of people, use personal email, and communicate often to know their arrival time.  

But I must say that it was not all a disastrous party at the end.  We did enjoy each others.  The best of all, I had my new year's resolution made up: creating and managing an active professional website - yes, you heard it right.  One of our guests, the Dutch guy, of course, was a computer nerd and he knows just where to start.  It was not bad after all!

Happy 2013, y'all!

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