“A Little Party Never Killed Nobody”

The first two weeks of school and work have kept me busy and my blog neglected, but I somehow found the time to host one of my favorite parties yet. I can finally sit and curl up on the couch on this wintry night with my warm wooly socks, postpone my studies, and write about a night full of good friends, celebrating, and taking a moment from our busy lives to make some great memories. Not to mention a cocktail party menu that I think rivals all other menus of my entertaining history.

This past Saturday was my belated birthday party that I named the cliche yet clever “Forever XXI.” I first thought I would just go out to dinner somewhere with a large group of friends once everyone was back in Waco, but who am I kidding? I’ve always preferred hosting and cooking for my own parties over the years, so why should my 21st be any different? Now that I could throw an actual “cocktail” party (my 18th happened to be a fun, fancy, faux-cocktail vibe), I immediately started brainstorming food and drink (while denying my immediate homework of the semester) that would be the makings of what I’d like to call a “winter chic” gathering – fancy not fussy, classy not trashy.  Just think modern Gatsby on a much smaller, college budget level. I had no intentions on getting my friends (or me) wasted by any means just because it was a 21st birthday party (and trust me we didn’t), but I did want to create a fun, carefree space where everyone was free to enjoy ample delicious food and drinks.

Let the good times roll
Hey baby, throw your cares away
Let the good times roll
Leave your worry for another day
Let the good times roll
Leave yesterday behind
Let the good times roll tonight

Of course one of the most important aspects of a good party is the people. My friends that came were a perfect mix of those I know from all over campus through the different things I’m involved in. It was cool seeing all the people I know mingling and getting to know one another through good conversation.

DSC_2412DSC_2413With tea lights clustered, apartment party-space friendly, ice bucket ready, party playlist playing, oven hot and filled, and red lipstick on, the night was under way.

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The Playlist

Katy Perry, OneRepublic, Lorde, Sara Bareilles, Bruno Mars, Andy Davis, Kesha, Ellie Goulding, JT and more

The Menu: A Relaxed-Gourmet Mix of Small, Flavor-Packed Bites

Chipotle Rosemary Roasted Mixed Nuts – spicy, sweet, salty, and addicting

Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese – easily the crowd’s favorite! Smoky salty bacon, sweet chewy dates, and creamy tangy goat cheese. No wonder…

Green Bean Bacon Bundles –  need I say more?

Bruschetta: 2 ways – 1) Goat cheese, honey, and nutmeg 2) Apricot preserves, fontina/smoked provolone (assorted), and proscuitto

“Skinny” Spinach Artichoke Dip with Veggies and Pita Chips – a party classic

Crock Pot Italian Turkey Meatballs with Tomato Basil Sauce – SO easy and tasty!

Chocolate Fondue – In the words of Frozen, “Maybe it’s the party talking, or the chocolate fondue…”

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The Bar: Signature Cocktails and Make-Your-Own Inspiration

Cranberry Mai Tai (with a Mocktail option) – think classic Mai Tai plus cranberry and Sprite

Sparkling Golden Apple – champagne, apple juice, Goldschlager

Make Your Own: Mojito, White Russian (definitely my favorite of the night – perfect after-dinner winter drink for a coffee lover)

Assorted Wine and Craft Beer

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Obviously I sampled everything, and couldn’t help but love my own cooking and new-found “bar-tending” skills (?). No one was looking at their watch, and I felt so blessed to look around and see that I was surrounded by people I love with smiles on their faces. I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and stayed late into the night (with a couple of my favorites sticking around ’til even later to help clean up, have a little more fun on the dance floor, and belt out the Frozen soundtrack). Even though it was technically a party for me, it was simply another opportunity to do what I love by opening up my home and my kitchen to people that appreciate it.

“But entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be.” – Shauna Niequist

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