Last week I hosted a Ladies Fondue Party. It was informal, simple and fun, fun, fun.
Nothing says simple like inviting guests over to dinner and asking them to cook their own food….my kind of entertaining! 🙂
My friend Sandy over at Reluctant Entertainer has been such an inspiration to me over the last couple of years. She has taught me that entertaining is more about the people than the perfection of the event. I’ve been able to let go of so many hang ups that stopped me from truly enjoying having guests over. It just doesn’t matter if things go wrong. I expect it now and embrace the Plan B. No one really cares unless of course the host is totally stressing out and making everyone feel uncomfortable. Awkward. Don’t do that.
People over perfection.
I sent casual email invites to about 12 ladies. I made sure to mention that it would be a potluck fondue and that as soon as I knew the number of attendees I would get back to them with what to bring. I asked them to RSVP by a certain date. Email makes it really easy for people to send a quick response and believe it or not but I’d heard from everyone by the next day. Once I knew how many guests were coming (8) I sent a second email listing the food needed and asked them to hit “reply all” to let everyone know what they’d be bringing. First reply, first choice.
Here was the list:
Steak cubed (3), baguettes sliced (2 or 3), variety of veggies parboiled, potatoes cubed and parboiled, cheese cubed for cheese sauce, chocolate for dessert fondue, cake cubed (angel food or pound holds up best), variety of sliced fruit.
Eight items, eight guests. After I’d heard back from everyone (one or two might not have said and I just went ahead and designated for them) I sent a finale email with a completed list of who was bringing what so everyone was on the same page.
The night of the fondue all I had to do was prepare the table and the drink station and we were set to go. It just doesn’t get any easier than that. My guideline is one fondue pot of oil for every 4 people. It just gets too crowded in a pot otherwise. I use an electric fondue pot in the middle for the cheese. As far as I’m concerned it’s all about the cheese. And the bread. The bread smothered in cheese. Mmmm, mmmmm, mmmmmm!
I decided to go with a Hawaiian theme and incorporate some bright colors to the table. Did it matter that my red fondue pots clashed with the bright pinks and oranges. Nope not to me.
I added a ladel to the cheese so guests could just scoop out a whole big bunch of it right onto their plates. Did I mention how much I love the cheese?
Did it matter that all the forks didn’t match? Nope not to me.
A few years back one of the girls made sweet napkins for me out of some very cute Hawaiian fabric. I pulled them out of my Hawaiian stash and put them to use again.
Another girlfriend did the place card holders. Aren’t they cute? Dollar store shot glasses filled with smarties. I love that she added our Hawaiian name. So inexpensive and fun!
The drink station. Nothing fancy, well except for the coconut cups. These are some serious cuteness and a bit of a splurge a fews ago from Ebay. I got married in Hawaii, I can’t help myself 🙂 The punch I made up ahead of time and it consisted of Malibu, pineapple juice, cranberry juice and sprite.
One of the best parts of the evening was the new rule I made up. If you dropped a piece of food off your fork in the pot you had to answer a question. Normally I make my guests sing but I found this super fun question pack over at Meckmom’s Etsy Shop for only $5.95 and I just couldn’t resist. What a great addition to the meal. Fondue’s are meant to be enjoyed slowly over a couple of hours so having these fun questions handy really added to the party!
Now remember I mentioned Plan B. I had to go there numerous times during the course of the evening. My hubbie had switched to the fondue gel instead of the oil we normally use and for whatever reason it takes much longer to heat up the oil this way. We all sat there drooling over the yummy food we couldn’t yet cook. We ended up dumping the oil into a big pot and heating it up on the stove first. I don’t normally have to do this with the oil.
The chocolate fondue is not a specialty of mine and I had forgotten to get some instruction on how to do this ahead of time. So I just melted the chocolate on the stove but through a comedy of errors we realized that overheating chocolate is a very bad thing. Plan B saw us having to dump the first batch of chocolate (the horror!) and start again. What can you do, you just have to laugh about these things.
Overall it was a wonderful evening filled with good food and good friends. It was simple, everyone contributed and a great time was had by all. I think Sandy would be proud 🙂