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Big Bash Small Space

By, Heidi Vail

My daughter is turning forty! I never feel old on my birthdays but having a forty-year-old daughter sure hits home. The story is not about her age but rather her well-deserved Big Bash. There is nothing like a party at home. At least that’s what she says. Especially one hosted by her legendary party planning mother (her words). So I’m going to share it with you.

My home is small but open. I have great neighbors and I have a fabulous front yard. Level, canopied with gorgeous trees, and Astro turf. The party starts out front around 6:00 as guest start to arrive. We will move all the outdoor lounge furniture to the front yard. I have enough for two or three seating areas. Add a few heaters a fire pit and most important a welcome bar cart in the driveway. I for one always head to the bar when I go to a party so why make people look for one. Greet them with a beverage. There will only be two drinks offered out front and water of course. Champagne and smoked old fashions. Bourbon is quite the thing these days. The rocks glasses of bourbon all lined up in the barrel smoker getting a good cold smoke. First the smell of Applewood fills the air

Then out comes the glass, drop a ball of ice in and voila! Before you head towards the house you will be approached with a hand passed fancy tray of something yummy. The double doors will be wide open as you head into the house, another crackling fire and the music bellowing from the backyard. Soon to be approached with more food offered from a tray. There will be another bar inside fully stocked when you’re ready. A menu with suggestions. Mock-tails included of course.

More hand passed food…

The backyard glistens with candlelight, standing height tables and small tables with a few chairs. More heaters another crackling fire. Here comes more food, this time three bite short plates of hearty items, grilled Shrimp over risotto, boneless short ribs with a cherry Demi glaze over roasted corn mashed potatoes, and so on. Food you can eat sitting or standing. The band is playing from the upper deck. It’s so pretty with the lights, the music, everyone in their finest cocktail attire. Mingle, dance, talk, drink and eat and eat! All the food comes to you.

You will eventually have to say “no more!” Around 8:00 everyone gathers in the back yard for a speech from the guest of honor. Out comes the little cakes, each with a single candle. Two bites maybe. The candles are lit, the birthday song is sung and everyone will make a wish for the birthday lady before blowing out their own candle. More music, more dancing, visiting, coffees and more drinks. As the band winds down around 10:00 guest start to leave, lots of hugs, big smiles, thank you’d, and a tasty departure gift for later.

Then the HEC crew will tear it all down clean it all up and take it away while I put my feet up and enjoy the fire. A very happy daughter with her head on my shoulder beaming with happiness. You can have a party anywhere. This party was for 100 or so guests. The key is to keep people moving, comfortable and well fed. My garage becomes a kitchen for the HEC staff. Chefs to plate food, there’s three of them, four servers constantly bringing out food, two bussers picking up glassware and dishes, three insured Bartenders. You never want your guest to stand long in a bar line. And an Event manager to oversee it all. And keep the fires going. The rental equipment all came from HEC. Tables, linens, centerpieces, dishes, glassware, Heaters and all the service ware. I did prepare a great deal of the food (being a retired chef and all) but much of it came from HEC.

Do what you love, what you’re good at, but make sure you are a guest at your own party. Enjoy it.