How Not to Host a Holiday Brunch

How Not to Host a Holiday Brunch

Easter was three weeks ago, but since I’m still finding plastic eggs around my house, I figure it’s still appropriate to tell you all about the Easter brunch I hosted for Damon’s coworkers and their families.

But first, here’s some free advice for you all: Don’t decide to host a major holiday function because you have some cute decor you purchased last year at a major discount from Williams-Sonoma and you’ve been waiting a whole year to display it.  Because it will rain and you won’t even be able to use the cute decor.  And then you’re stuck hosting 40-50 people in your small-ish, undecorated house.  And that requires cooking and cleaning and everything else you’re not naturally good at and you won’t even have decorations to distract from the fact that your food sucks and your house is dirty.  So just don’t do it.

Seriously.  What was I thinking?

I actually love hosting, I really do.  But Easter is a big holiday.  40-50 people is a lot of people.  75-100 Easter eggs to stuff and hide for the egg hunt you also offered to host is a lot of eggs.  It’s all just a lot of pressure.

To take some of that pressure off, I made the brunch a pot-luck.  That way guests could bring their own time-honored, traditional dishes that you have to have for Easter to be Easter.  I would cook the ham, a side, and a dessert.

There.  Food was set.  Next I rented tables and chairs that we would set up outside, since we certainly couldn’t fit everyone inside.

Then I realized that the decorations that had been the impetus for this celebration wouldn’t be enough and I would have to do some online shopping.  Obviously I would need pastel tablecloths, matching tableware sets and candy cups.  Was I originally planning on making individual candy cups?  No.  But once I saw them on the party store’s website, I knew they would be imperative to the success of my party.

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Candy cups in final form

I was feeling pretty good about everything.  As the big day approached, the weather forecast turned ominous:  Rain was threatening to ruin my outdoor brunch.  Rain!  No!  Where would my guests sit?  I had to focus.  Luckily there was still time to rent a tent.  My guests would be shivering and cold outside, but they would be dry.

But the Easter egg hunt was doomed.  I couldn’t force a gaggle of small children to search for eggs in the wet, cold rain.  Even if it meant my decorations would be forced to spend another year in our storage closet buried under a pile of equally worthless crap that I should never have purchased in the first place.

I was so disheartened.  No Easter decorations?  Why bother even going on with the brunch at all!?

“Diana, why didn’t you just move the decorations inside?” you ask.  Because they were OUTDOOR decorations – duh!  Come on people, spare me such pedantic questions.

Anyway.  It was too late to cancel, so I had to forge on with plans.  Despite my best efforts at preparing everything ahead of time, the night before the party rolled around, and there I was, stuffing candy cups and icing cupcakes at midnight.  Turns out the candy cups were a bad idea.  Stuffing dozens of small paper cups with that Easter grass is incredibly tedious and a huge, huge mess to boot.  Not worth it.

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Tedium masked in cuteness

But cupcakes.  Cupcakes are the worst.  Way worse than candy cups.  Sure they look all cute but they are really, really annoying to prepare.  Especially when you buy special cupcake wrappers to match your tableware, which you have to assemble individually.  I didn’t mention that I bought matching cupcake wrappers earlier, did I?  Well the truth is out.  I bought the freaking matching cupcake wrappers, thus condemning myself to a night in pastry hell.  A night only made worse when I realized that I had nowhere to store 48 cupcakes, because I never, ever make cupcakes.

Okay, while I’m being honest, I also bought cupcake toppers.  Because Pinterest has poisoned my brain and plain cupcakes simply aren’t good enough.  I should have known the cupcake toppers would have caused me misery when I saw they were made by none other than Martha Stewart.  Martha had led me astray before, yet I foolishly gave her another chance.  Stupid.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

After staying up way past my bedtime hiding eggs in my non-decorated living room (just so you know, it was a very high egg/sq. footage ratio), I woke up early the next morning to start cooking and complete final preparations, and what did I have to contend with?  Those damn cupcake toppers.*

I opened up the bag of toppers and were they in pom-pom form as advertised?  No they were not.

“WTF?!” I yelled in a mix of anger, exhaustion and confusion.  “I have to put these together myself!  Oh hell no, Martha.”

Damon tried to calm me by showing me how simply they could be arranged with a simple, self-adhesive strip.  It didn’t matter.  I hadn’t budgeted time for such crafting!  I worked as quickly as I could but in my haste errors were made, pom-pom toppers were lost.  But there was no time to dwell on the wasted cupcake crafts: I had to put the ham in the oven.

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The blasted cupcakes.

Believe it or not, my main priority that morning was getting to church.  Everything was timed around church.  I had very carefully planned when to start cooking the ham so it would cook during the service and be ready when the guests arrived.

So when the time came, I pulled the ham out of the fridge …and it was frozen.

Nonononono!  My ham cannot be frozen right now!  My life is not a sitcom and this isn’t supposed to happen in real life!  But it was frozen.  And that’s when – in a fit of rage fueled mainly by Martha Stewart, but also by Pinterest and my frozen ham – I picked up the worthless meat and threw it through my kitchen window, tossing the infuriating cupcake topper pom-poms right out after it.

Not really.  That’s what I wanted to do, but instead I did what any good woman does:  I told my husband to deal with.  Somehow he thawed the ham in time, and somehow we made it to church in time.

But church ran long, as church tends to do, and no amount of hurrying would have had my party completely ready before the guests arrived.  Once home, I pulled out the ham to apply the glaze.  “Pour the glaze over the ham and then cook another 10 minutes,” read the instructions.  I opened the packed of glaze (as if I make my own!) and dumped it onto the ham.  It was powder.  SERIOUSLY CAN I NOT CATCH A BREAK WITH THIS HAM!?

I re-read the instructions.  “Mix powder with water and heat to make the glaze,” they said.  WHO WROTE THESE DIRECTIONS!?  SHOULDN’T THAT COME BEFORE, “Pour glaze over ham”?  Since I already had guests at my house I couldn’t scream at the ham packaging, much as I wanted to.  Instead I discreetly poured tap water over the ham in an attempt to make the powder spreadable.  It was all quite pathetic.

And then I saw a five-year old girl drinking a mimosa, and suddenly I wasn’t so worried about the ham as I was about her parents suing me.  Perspective.

Ultimately the ham was edible.  And ultimately, I think everyone had a good time.  Everyone brought delicious dishes and helped profusely with the set-up and clean-up, the kids enjoyed the Easter egg hunt despite it being indoors, and that one five-year-old girl was the only incident of underage drinking at the party.  Success.

The hunt

The hunt

Oh.  And it didn’t rain.  Turns out I could have used the decorations.  The cruel irony is that now I never will.  They will be buried in that storage closet for eternity – or at least until our next Navy move – because I will never, ever host Easter brunch again.

*What is really crazy about all these silly, useless details is that half of my guests were male fighter pilots who could not care less about matching tableware and candy cups, and the other half were kids and their  mothers who don’t have time to notice such things because they were too busy trying to keep their kids from accidentally drinking alcoholic beverages.  Will I ever learn?

4 Comments

  1. Events go well if you do all the stressing beforehand, so it probably was awesome. 🙂

    • Hopefully the level of stressing is proportionate to the level of awesomeness. In which case, the party was really, really awesome 🙂

  2. Oh Diana, your stories crack me up. When will you learn?! : ) aunt fran

  3. Love, love, love this one!!! Burst out loud with the sip of mimosa!

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