Monday, September 17, 2007

The Awkward Hostess Strikes Again: More Frozen Food Baby Shower Ideas

If you've noticed a posting slowdown in the past week, it's not your imagination. This weekend we hosted a brunch and frozen food baby shower for some great moms with new babies due in the next few weeks.

I've written about food showers before (twice), so I won't go into repetitive detail.

Here are some new ideas for this food shower:
  • Store-bought frozen foods for the dads (think college-grade frozen pizza and microwavable breakfast sandwiches).
  • BRUNCH & BUFFET. With a couple good breakfast casseroles, strata, or quiches it was so much simpler logistically than the tea shower. The two casseroles I served were Gayle's amazing recipes from an adoption shower she hosted last month.
  • Watermelon basket- completely freehanded it took maybe 5 minutes. I suspect with about 10 more minutes of preparation it could have even been symmetrical.
  • Very few disposable goods were used. We used my plates and glasses and the tables were dressed with cloth. The only disposable items used were the napkins (which were too adorable to pass up). In the tradition of my octogenarian friends from sewing, I used decorative items which were already around my home. This can have a very understated and gracious feel.
  • Pre-portioning the frozen foods: Veronica had the inspired idea to split frozen breakfast foods into individual portions before freezing so the family would be able to heat only what they need at the moment.

One of the best aspects of the shower was having my mom's help. She came early and washed some of my windows before the shower (see her in the picture?) in addition to helping get everything set up. During the shower, she entertained our baby guest (I don't know which of them had more fun) and she also packaged all the leftover food and did the dishes! Wow! I cannot tell you how surprised I was to walk into a clear kitchen.

One of my mom's friends hires high schoolers from her neighborhood as assistants whenever she hosts a shower. Assistance with serving allows a host more time to enjoy their guests and party. Helping a friend who is hosting a shower can be a great gift of your time.

Jim and my dad also helped a lot! Jim worked on the front porch, driveway, and yard while Dad took Ranger for pancakes at IHOP. Then Jim and Ranger headed to Kentucky for a fall party at Aunt Mo's leisure farm (complete with hayrides, boats, fishing, and chili made in a 55 gallon drum stirred with a canoe paddle).

Veronica made awesome individual cakes (chocolate and white with raspberry filling) for everyone at the party. She was also awesome and came early to help, so she made a lovely arrangement of fruit with some assorted dishes from my cabinet (I especially love the blueberries in the spiral olive plate nesting among the grapes).

Some presentation tips:
  • With 8 individual cake plates, it was easy for the table to look cluttered, so we stole a technique from the pros and tiered them. I used an assortment of cans from my pantry to get a variety of heights: big pear cans for the highest tier, condensed milk half-cans for the second tier, and a water chestnut can for the lowest tier. I covered the cans with a runner.
  • My cream table cloth was visually boring, so I dressed it up with an improvised runner (a floral twin bed sheet folded in half).
  • If you don't love ironing tablecloths, but want a fresh look, put them in a warm dryer for a few minutes and then immediately place on the table. (I should have done this with the runner too).
  • Jim recommends this excellent mnemonic for arranging a place setting (thanks, Parent Hacks!).
  • Use interesting plates and have someone artistic lay out the food. My favorite plates are 1970s green and brown acquired at antique malls and thrift shops. I tend to stick to white serving dishes, so I can easily add new pieces.
  • Don't be afraid to pull out the fine china- when else are you going to use it?
  • Borrow big or infrequently needed items. Maggie loaned me her gorgeous punch bowl and cups. They were beautiful.
With all the help and generosity of spirit, the whole day left me feeling incredibly fortunate to have such great family and friends. Maybe (with their help) this hostess is getting a little less awkward.

Do you have any good baby shower/party tips or freezable recipes to share?

1 comment:

indywriter said...

Hmm... I don't have any recipes handy, but I can offer up a new mnemonic for your place settings. My mom learned it when she was little: "On right the knife and spoon we lay, on left the fork and napkin gay." I honestly cannot set a table without mentally running through this rhyme.

Can I tell you half the stuff I learned in grad school? Nope. But I know where to put the silverware.

Thank goodness you didn't melt candy bars into diapers and make people guess which kind they were. Yuck.