Playlist of music in this post: Spotify
Pandemic Communications and HR Tech Stacks
Two projects from this quarter:
- A Pandemic Communications Wish List - things that would help make sense of the pandemic
- HR Tech Stack Considerations - a look at the software that helps keep HR running
A Cocktail Party!
I had a cocktail party! With actual people in actual person! There were hugs!!
A cocktail party is an accomplishment in normal times, and doubly so in a pandemic. Here are two choices I highly recommend: 1) Have pros do the food; 2) Batch drinks ahead of time.
Have professionals make your food
After a 20+ month getting-people-together hiatus, I was kind to myself and had a local kitchen cater food for the gathering. This decision was a smashing personal success and I've never been calmer in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to a party.
In raw dollars, catering costs more than either making your own food or organizing a potluck. Personally, the time and stress savings from neither shopping, prepping, and plating the food myself, nor coordinating guests bringing food, more than covered that raw cost difference. Your mileage will vary, but it's genuinely worth considering.
The type and quantity of food to order for your first time catering is a guessing game. There are recommendations online for how many pieces per-person per-hour you'll need, adjustments for sit-down dinners vs. cocktail hours, serving or not serving alcohol, etc. I honestly think the biggest variable is your friend group: how much do they normally eat at parties, what do they normally enjoy eating at parties, their food expectations at parties. How well your guests know each other can even factor in - people who are just getting to know each other may not stuff their faces as freely as old college pals.
My advice: don't sweat it. Give it your best guess and keep track of what you'd change and keep for next time.
Batch Your Drinks
Batching cocktails the night before your party is truly a pro move. It allows you to provide fun, tasty drinks without handcuffing yourself to bartender duty all night or having people make their own drinks (likely poorly).
The trickiest part of batching drinks is finding recipes that are well-balanced. The glory of batched drinks is pouring and going, so you'll need options that are ready to drink without grabbing a Boston Shaker.
Here are the three recipes that worked well for us.
Bill's Whiskey Sours
Once upon a time, when we were doing way too much, a friend's dad (shout out to the legend) gave us the best whiskey sour recipe: "one can of frozen lemonade, one can of water, one can of whiskey."
Depending on the whiskey and frozen lemonade you use, you might want to adjust the water and add bitters for more depth.
Bill's Whiskey Sours (Party Size)
- 24 oz* whiskey
- 24 oz frozen concentrated lemonade
- 36 oz water
- 24 dashes of orange bitters
Pour over ice.
84 oz total, 14 servings of 6 oz pours
Original recipe: BBC Good Food
Ol' Appleseed (Party Size)
- 500 ml gin
- 400 ml elderflower liqueur
- 2000 ml apple juice
Pour over ice.
98 oz total, about 16 servings of 6 oz pours
These taste like juice, so be careful.
Madras (Party Size)
- 24 oz* vodka
- 48 oz cranberry juice
- 16 oz orange juice
Pour over ice.
88 oz total, about 14 servings of 6 oz pours
- *Quick Math: 24 oz = 710 ml; most bottles of alcohol are 750 ml.
- Use a 1-gallon pitcher to mix the ingredients.
- If you want compostable cups that won't immediately get too cold to hold, I had good luck with this option: 8 oz compostable cups.
A smaller party!
A few weeks after the cocktail party, I had a smaller, 7 person gathering... easier than 30+ guests, still real live people, still hugs, and still an accomplishment in a pandemic.
Also: still have professionals make your food. I made one quick serving of a delicious bread & cheese sharable that needs a name, and then I ordered pizza from a local shop. I cannot overstate how extra relaxing it is to have a party and neither coordinate nor make the food. It's truly wonderful.
In the kitchen!
I've been in the kitchen... here are some pictures.
- An Evening with Silk Sonic, Silk Sonic
- Celia, Tiwa Savage
- if i could make it go quiet, girl in red
- Nuevos Aires, Girl Ultra
- Skin, Joy Crookes
...and scrambling when people cancel and, subsequently, create holes in the menu ↩︎
I found some utility in telling guests I was taking care of the food and what sort of food would be present, to help set expectations for what and how much they should eat before the party. ↩︎
See next footnote re: Boston Shakers ↩︎
The More You Know✨: Using a Boston Shaker/cocktail shaker not only blends the ingredients, it also dilutes the drink with melted ice, which helps balance the cocktail. ↩︎
I had decent luck finding other compostable items at Target. ↩︎