Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Miss Outlier, Hostess

I have never hosted a party while I've been at World's Best School. I've been to quite a few friend's parties, but they live in apartments or houses, and I - well, I live in a dorm. During my first two years I lived in a graduate dorm, and now I live in an undergraduate dorm. I'm going downhill, people, downhill! Never have I had space to entertain.

But I was at a dinner party a couple weeks ago, and the topic of July 4th came up. I started raving to my friends about how excited I was - because my undergraduate dorm is perfectly positioned for fireworks watching. Last year I had to stand squashed between thousands of other people, trying to see the fireworks. And trying to get home? Not fun. Public transportation is not equipped for hundreds of thousands at once.

That's when I realized - now I live in an undergrad dorm with a VIEW. And it's EMPTY in the summer. Only four RAs are here, plus the housemasters - and the housemasters are out of town.

So I thought - I should have a party in the penthouse! There's a rooftop deck on my dorm, with both an inside lounge area, and an outdoor patio. My view looks like this:

And the inside lounge area (this was set up with tables for a dinner, but I had couches and chairs and coffee tables for the party):

The best part is, for the 4th of July Boston has a huge fireworks show. And they shoot off the fireworks from a barge in the river - right beside that bridge in the first photo! Perfect vantage point! Just this summer we planted a bunch of plants outside, so there's a rooftop garden from which to enjoy the fireworks show. And there's a big screen HD TV inside to watch the broadcast of the Boston Pops.

So I hosted a party.

I sent the email to the Dinner Club friends list (the people I go out to eat with once a month). I figured hey, we'll have food, it counts, right? :)

I got so many responses! I think most of them were just excited about the view, maybe not just my charming self, but hey - I'll take it. I was out with my friends on Wednesday, and ran into a MechE friend of mine. He said to me - "Hey Miss Outlier, can I come to your party on Sunday? I hear it's the place to be!" I told him of course!

And it sounds silly, but that made me really happy. I'm glad that my friends were excited, and I felt like if this were highschool, I just became popular.

There's strict security at the dorm on the holiday, so I had to set up a guest list. So I know that there were exactly 36 people who came to my party. At first, I was a little nervous. I've never hosted that many people before! But then I thought - wait, yes I HAVE! I'm an RA! I was an RA for a year at the grad dorm, and I've been an RA for a year at the undergrad dorm. I've provided food for more than 36 people more times than I can count. I even have all the serving platters, dishes, cooking supplies, and tested recipes to use. So really, who better to host a party?

You guys, I had so much fun planning. I always buy my serving dishes and platters in white, black, and blue (so it all kind of coordinates even with different brands) so it was already kind of festive. I added vases of flowers of my own plants for decoration. I arranged furniture and brought in extra chairs so people could sit outside if they wanted.

We couldn't have a BBQ because I'm not allowed to have a grill, so I planned a menu around a picnic theme. We had chilled corn soup with fresh cilantro for appetizer, then roasted chicken and zucchini sandwiches, mac n' cheese with butternut squash, cucumber dill salad, and spinach salad with quinoa and chickpeas. Then I added snack items - fresh strawberries that were on sale, baby carrots and celery, crackers, chips, and nectarine salsa. I actually meant to make deviled eggs, but I ended up skipping that recipe. It was okay - one of the guests brought deviled eggs as a potluck offering!

Then for dessert, I made my family's classic Striped Delight recipe (which is layers of chocolate, a cream cheese filling, and whipped cream on a graham cracker crust). And - the piece de resistance - my dad's Double Cruncher cookies. Those were my favorite. They are thin, crunchy cookies made with cornflakes, coconut, and oatmeal. You sandwich two cookies around a filling of chocolate, cream cheese, and powdered sugar. Sinful, and delicious.

I remembered to put out paper plates, napkins, utensils. I had buckets of ice for drinks, trash cans for garbage, and recycling for bottles. I remembered to put out a Sharpie for marking cups. I greeted all the guests, tried to make sure people were all talking and enjoying themselves. In short, I did the best job I could as a hostess.

The best part was - in the end, the party was (I think) a success. I had fun, I hope my guests had fun. People brought food to share, drinks to share, and we all shared the fireworks.

And at the end, we clapped and cheered, and then laughed as we watched everybody far below (half a million of them by official estimate) trying to leave en masse. We just helped ourselves to another brownie. Because, you know, the Double Crunchers were all gone. That fact right there is how I really know it was a good night.

Happy 4th!

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