Thursday, January 12, 2012

Holiday Reception & Etiquette

I mentioned in my last post that Nick and I hosted our very first New Year's Reception this past Sunday. The tradition has been that the commander would host his senior leaders (because there are just too many to have everyone over) to his or her home on New Year's Day. However, who really wants to do this on New Year's Day?  Not the commander and certainly not the Soldiers who work for him.
So, our decision was to do it on the 8th of January. We did it from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM in one hour rotations. We had a group at 1:00 who stayed until 2:00, then had a 30 minute break to re-stock food, drinks, etc. and then had the second group at 2:30 and so on. We saw the last group out at 5:00.
Tips for hosting this kind of event:
Cater if you can. Seriously, it's a lot of work and I was overwhelmed.
If you can't cater, go to Costco or a similar store and buy stuff that is easily put together or simply warmed in the oven at the last minute. I did lots of this and it was good.
Have help in the kitchen. My friend Carla, my daughter Callie and Nick's deputy's wife were all there and helped me so much. They completely took the stress out of the day.
Block off your kitchen if you want no one in there. I closed the door from the kitchen to the dining room, and hung a sheer curtain over the other doorway. Even then, people looked in to find a place to put empty plates, cups etc. (have someone walk through and gather trash, plates, etc. That helps too)
Have a guest book. You will want to look back after the rush and see who was really there.
At the end of the rotation, take everyone OUTSIDE to take a group photo. It ensures they are out of the house at the end of their time. Don't let them come back in! 
Mingle and have a great time!
Now for those of you attending a reception such as this.  Here are the do's and don'ts.
Don't bring a hostess gift. It's not that kind of party. It's a reception and more formal, so you are really only required to show up. For the service member invited.. it's a command performance. Don't think because it's an invitation and you can RSVP that you have the option NOT to go. Go.. you'll thank me later.
Don't ask for a tour of the home. Yes, I live in a beautiful historic home. No, I do not want 50 people at a time wandering through it. If your host/hostess want to give you a tour, they'll offer. (no one did this to me, but did to some of my neighbors who hosted receptions)
Don't take your children. Don't ask if you can bring your children. This is an official event and not a place for toddlers to be running around.
Do speak to the commander and his/her enlisted counterpart. (The Command Sergeant Major) they are a team and should always be included in a greeting, thank you, good-bye etc.
Thank everyone involved for inviting you and for opening their home. It is just the right thing to do.

I will have to say, my group was fabulous. No one was out of line, no one brought kids, wandered through my house etc.
It's a reflection on the wonderful officers and NCO's who are working for my husband. We are very blessed and humbled to be able to serve in this way.

I will leave you with a photo of Nick and me outside our home as we were getting started on Sunday. It was a blast!!


Expat Girl said...

That photo is great! Your do's and dont's made me giggle but are so necessary for some people!

Quiltingranny said...

How awesome. I so remember the days of hosting parties at our home and Sunday dinners for the single men and women of my husbands command. Not as formal, but fun! Thank you for sharing. Snow is coming to town Paula, are you ready? We are shopping in Olympia early Saturday to make sure we make it back to the beach before it hits!

Lydia said...

Sounds like you were an incredible hostess, and you both look great in your picture! :)

Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

Hee hee! I think they need to hire you to write a pamphlet. I know if I/my husband was in the service I'd be bookmarking this!

Laura said...

I am single and hosting my own New Years reception this year...and terrified! What did you serve? What kind of music did you have on if any?

Appreciate any tips you can share! This is a great tradition and I want to perpetuate it but so few do it anymore.


Paula said...

I can give you plenty of tips!
I served meatballs (frozen from Costco) with a sweet/hot sauce. They are a huge hit. The sauce is simply grape jelly mixed with chili sauce. Keep in the crock pot until serving in a nicer chafing dish.
Cheese platter, veggie platter, shrimp with cocktail sauce, artichoke dip with crackers. I'm searching my brain because I'm drawing a blank. Keep it easy.
For dessert, I served small bites. Fudge, cream puffs (also frozen at Costco) drizzled with chocolate sauce.
I served wine, beer, water, an "Engineer Punch" (it's red) that is non alcoholic and a bourbon slush.
If you want more info, please email me. I'm happy to help more.

Laura said...

Thanks Paula! That makes me feel much better--my plan is turkey meatballs, veggie and fruit platters with hummus, spinach dip, and fruit dip…cheese board, olive tray, mini mini cheesecakes and cookies. For drinks beer, wine (2 red and 1 white), champagne punch and a non-alcoholic punch. I am getting part of it catered and doing a bit on my own.

Thanks for the response! This is a big adventure for me as I am so scared of entertaining but feel it is the right thing to pass on this very classic tradition.

thanks and Happy New Year!