We started last week with a team meeting over bacon doughnuts at Nightwood. Some team members spent the meeting enjoying their bagel sandwiches, while others were preoccupied putting the finishing touches on the Super Bowl party menu and creating a detailed shopping list to enhance ease of entertaining later in the week. Feel free to determine which team members were more productive in your own minds. (I was.)
When we hatched the plan to host a Super Bowl viewing party a few weeks ago, I think the only thing Alex considered was that, with an audience in attendance, I’d have to let him watch the game without grabbing for the remote and flipping to Real Housewives “on the commercials.” While he was right in that crude (yet accurate) assessment, there are a few more things that go into hosting and feeding ten family members—about a week’s worth:
List making and planning commence. Organization is key. Finalized menu includes: Spanish tortilla (finger food points), squash and bean chili (pleases vegans and football fans alike), chips/salsa/guacamole (Super Bowl classics), and cornbread (to keep it real).
Dress rehearsal of mock up of living room furniture rotation leads to a new game plan and an argument: how slanted should the couch be? Just slanted enough. Will there be enough seats? More chairs are drafted from the dining room.
Tuesday through Thursday:
Dinner engagements and cage fighter training keep us busy. (Alex thinks I need to work on my “ground game”—I keep getting pinned by the laundry bag.)
Day one of shopping. At the risk of sounding incredibly OCD and way more organized than I actually I am, I will tell you that I starred the grocery items on our list that could and should be bought at the Downtown Farmstand, a local-oriented grocer a block from my office. I picked up Nichols Farm onions, potatoes, dried beans, as well as a winter squash, eggs, and PHB steak and ale pies for dinner in lieu of their fish fry. Then I stopped in at Pastoral for Prairie Breeze cheddar, a loaf of peasant bread, and some cornichons for Saturday lunch. If Sherlock Holmes is reading this, he might deduce that I coordinated this shopping trip to protect Alex from the horror (his word) of taking groceries on public transportation, and to enable the hearty weekend lunch of a grilled cheese to keep his spirits up during the cleaning process.
Day two of shopping/day one of cleaning. We had to split the remaining items on our list between two Hyde Park grocery stores, as, inevitably, neither could accommodate all of our needs. Then we cleaned.
I sorted the beans in the evening, finding some fun stuff hidden in their midst: two corn kernels, five twigs, three pieces of turkey bacon… this might have just become a line from Clueless.
I finished setting the beans up to soak overnight and let Alex convince me to watch a couple of NetflixInstant documentaries about race cars. That has nothing to do with our party, but is true.
Super Bowl Sunday:
The goal for our party was throwing an easy, stress-free event, with enough seasonal, homemade food and chairs for all of our guests. It’s the little things. The best way I’ve found to avoid “people are coming!” anxiety is to plan dishes that can be made ahead of time. I had all day to cook some beans, then make a chili base and add them in, knock out an omelet, grate some cheese, prepare the wet and dry ingredients for cornbread and not mix them together, then mix them together, toast some tortilla strips, smash avocados, and do all the dishes in between.
Alex spent the day trying to toss a nerf football down the hallway into the sideways laundry basket he set up on our bed.
As guests arrived, I was just finishing the guac and totally ready to start hosting.
To up the viewing stakes, we had guests pick a team and a combined total points tie-breaker. Though everyone left fed and entertained, each having had a place to sit after all, it was my sister who took home the grand prize—she beat out Alex, whose guess was closer but over the mark (Sherlock will also note that “Price is Right” rules were in effect).