So you think you know how to throw a party. You know how to prime your guests with the right invitation style; your tables groan under the perfect selection of food and beverages; lighting and flow are second nature. Yeah, you think you do it best, but you are about to get schooled. There are at least four classes you need if you want to be head of the (partying) class.
Besides being regular staples at get-togethers, wine, chocolate, and cheese have something else in common: You can better appreciate them all by knowing their origin. The regions in which they’re cultivated — the topography, history, climate — are what produce the complex flavors of our favorite indulgences.
Coffee beans grown in arid mountainous regions will produce a different tasting coffee than beans grown in the rainforest. Even the same varietal of grape will lend wine a different flavor depending on whether it was grown in rocky soil or rich loam. There’s also the influence of process, often based in tradition, which is why Swiss chocolate is different from Belgian chocolate.
Believe me when I say you’ll enjoy these geography lessons much more than the ones in high school. Here, we encourage you to eat (and drink) in class!
Specifically, you need to learn how to chop, so start looking for a cooking class. Just knowing the difference between “finely chop” and “mince” is helpful, but learning the most efficient way to cut your ingredients to size is life changing. You’ll find it takes less time to get party food ready. (You may even have time to shower before your guests arrive!)
Should you need to do additional chopping while the party is in full swing, say, to replenish stock on the hors d’oevres table, you can get in the kitchen and get it done before your guests even miss you. Or maybe they can watch and be amazed at your sous chef ninja skills.
We’re not talking about decorating for a wedding, so don’t go all crazy looking for a school of floriculture. Learn how to fill a space and when you really shouldn’t. For example: when you need color to brighten a corner go big and bold; for a sit-down dinner keep the arrangements low so people can see each other across the table.
Once you know how to make flowers look good in various types of containers, all you really need are some grocery store bouquets and, well, some containers. After you develop a knack for centerpieces you can experiment with adding all sorts of things to your floral creations — dried branches, vegetables, balloons! You can even make arrangements completely devoid of flowers! Trust me, your friends will be impressed with your ability to transform your house for every party.
Why learn to decorate a cake? Because icing is the duct tape of the confection world. If your cake is cracked or broken, icing can glue it back together. When your cupcakes are a bit misshapen, artful swirls of frosting will hide the lumps and bumps. Use it as mortar in those impressive, towering layer cakes. Cover the more-brown-than-golden tops of cookies. Rosettes provide dimension, tiny fondant sculptures lend a bit of color, jewel-toned sugar adds sparkle.
Presenting your guests with a homemade dessert, even one from a box mix, shows you love them. Icing it tricks them into thinking it’s a perfect love.
Were you taking notes? Good! Now look around for workshops and classes at a local craft store, community center, or small business. If no one is offering the lessons you are looking for, submit a request.
Once you’ve completed the prescribed course load you’ll have graduated with full honors from a party school. To celebrate, pop the cork, lay out the hors d’oevours, set out a bowlful of blossoms, and…let them eat cake!
Photo credits: Crunchycreamysweet.com, heatherdiane.com, StyleMePretty.com, and Bunko.