Entertaining: The Gateway Drug

11 Nov

game_dinner_iconAs I’ve mentioned before, one of the best excuses I have for trying out new paleo recipes is the dinner I serve for my weekly RPG game-group. Not everyone in the group is paleo, but no one complains when I hand them plates loaded with beef stew, chili, bacon-wrapped chicken, or other hearty fare. Currently there are five of us in the group, so I also appreciate the opportunity to practice making larger meals, in preparation for the day when I might someday have a full-on family like a real adult.

But in the last month and a half, I have encountered a slippery slope. See, I am a natural born hostess. When I throw a party, I am constantly running around making sure everyone has drinks and everything they need to have a good time. Hell, when I go to other people’s parties, the first thing I usually do after walking in the door is head straight to the kitchen to see if they need any help. What I’ve realized recently, though, is that these habits are actually just the shadowy tendrils of a deeper desire that is hidden in my heart.

A dark beast that is now finding itself unleashed.

It started simply enough. Every week, my friends would show up at my house and I would immediately thrust upon them wine, water, kombucha, Italian sodas, or whatever drink they wanted that I could provide. Eventually, on some nights where dinner was running late, I would make the effort to set out something like homemade plantain chips and guac or a sideboard of cheese and nuts for everyone to snack on while we waited.  As I became more practiced at anticipating the needs of my guests, my ambitions…became greater.

A few weeks ago, I was at the grocery store and noticed that even though Halloween wasn’t until Thursday, many of the Halloween decorations had already gone on sale. Halloween is my favorite holiday, so I decided that I would surprise everyone by turning our game night into a special affair. That evening, everyone arrived at the house to discover this:

Deliciously spooky.

Deliciously spooky.

I was immensely proud of the decorations and kept standing in the kitchen to admire the table. I realized that it was more than a centerpiece, it was a tablescape. It even incorporated some of my pre-existing hosting behaviors, since those bowls at either end are filled with a sweet fruit-nut mixture (sugary, yes, but way better than candy at least) that everyone munched on before dinner and during the game. I was sad that I had only thought to put the thing together at the 11th hour and, reasonably, had to take it down before we moved on into November the next week.

But as I packaged up the decorations a couple days later, the beast inside me reached out from the place it had lingered, unseen, for so long.

Why does this have to stop here? It said. There are more holidays coming up.

“Be reasonable,” I told it as I carefully wrapped the ghost figurine. “I can’t go decorating to the nines every month. It’s an unreasonable waste of time and money.”

But is it? The voice slid across my mind like chocolate. You are basically throwing a dinner party every week. That means you’ll be creating something that will be enjoyed many, many times before it’s over.

I stopped mid-wrap. “That’s…true….” I checked the calendar. “Wait, Thanksgiving isn’t until the end of the month. That means we’ll have, like, four weeks to enjoy this!”

Yeeeesssss…. Its joy was palatable. And then next month, there will be an entirely new holiday to decorate for….

I was done for. Ideas for a new tablescape started flooding into my mind. Everyone, including my roommates, loved the fake candlabra of the Halloween-scape, so I decided to take things a step up and upgrade to a real one. Rather than collect the rest of the pieces I had in mind across the internet, I made a sojourn to my favorite place in the whole world and started rifling through the seasonal and sale displays. Over the next few days, I constructed my new masterpiece, and the beast inside me rejoiced.

When my friends arrived that week, they were greeted by this:


The class was only slightly diminished by the laptops and D10’s that littered the rest of the table later on in the night.

My favorite piece of the whole scene is actually the most subtle. Computer, enhance:

apple_candleAw yeah, son. That is a REAL candle inside a REAL apple. It was created using this deceptively simple device that I stumbled upon. Normally I am against kitchen unitaskers, but the darkness inside me had an answer for that too:

It’s not really a unitasker. I mean, it can cut candle holders out of any fruit or vegetable that stands still long enough! Apples, pears, even those gourds are fair game. Imagine a whole cornucopia of gently flickering fruit, or a summer centerpiece created out of an overlarge zucchini!

If you’re concerned about wasting food, the apples were a little brown but otherwise still perfectly edible at the end of the evening. At the very least they are compostable. This also would be a good use for pithy, bland tasting conventional fruit (I’m looking at you, Red-so-called-Delicious apples!)

For now the beast rests, content to enjoy this spread for the weeks to come. But there is no telling what horrors will arise come the turn of the Yuletide next month. I am a little concerned, considering how cocky its influence has already made me:



2 Responses to “Entertaining: The Gateway Drug”

  1. Frank November 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    I only enjoyed your tumblr so far, but now you found a new regular reader!
    Really enjoyed this! Will be reading up on the earlier ones!

    • Colleen November 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      Thanks! ;D So glad you like it! I’ve been trying to keep things eclectically-lighthearted around here 😉

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