The White Elephant Party

Jennifer M. commented in the last post, asking how our White Elephant party went.  In a word: GREAT!
We had 37 people confirm attendance, but in the end only 23 actually came.  That's a smaller crowd than we've had in the past, but that's okay because this year we played the White Elephant game a bit differently and I think if we had had 30+ people it would have been even more chaotic than it already was.
But first, the prep!  We took on work on Friday and it was a whirlwind day.  A housecleaner came for our twice-a-year professional deep clean.  She was there for five hours and did an AMAZING job.  She did so great I paid more than she asked for.  And believe me, she's worth it!   We also had a repair guy come out and finally fix our stove which had been broken since before Thanksgiving.  Denis now swears he can fix it next time it breaks because the guy showed him what he was doing and how he was doing it (how many repairmen add THAT kind of service?).  I snuck out for a long-overdue haircut in addition to helping Denis with food prep.  It was a busy day but productive, too.  One of our guests for the weekend, KJ, arrived that evening and we had a good time catching up (we hadn't seen each other in over a year).
Saturday's run up to the party was more busy-ness.  My sister arrived in the late afternoon and we continued with food prep.  And once again Denis and I part ways when we consider how close to the party start time we finished prepping.  The party was due to start at 6 p.m., and I want to say we were done with the hardcore prepping by 5 p.m.  After that it was minor things – putting out chips/nuts in bowls, cleaning up last minute things around the house, making sure WE game gifts were under the tree, etc.  Denis will tell you we were busy up until the first guest arrived, but we weren't – it's not like we were running around in a mad dash as the first guest came up the walkway.  Yes, we were doing things, but they weren't timeconsuming things that required a lot of action.
The food was fabulous.  In all we made 13 items in addition to having chips/dip, a veggie platter, etc.  We wrote out a schedule that involved bringing out 1 cold food and 3 hot foods every 15 minutes for 2 hours.  That plan worked perfectly.  There were a few times that we'd run out of an item before we got to all the guests, but we still managed to keep a steady flow of food.  Out of the 13 apps we made, only two were things we wouldn't serve again.  The other 11 were amazingly tasty.  The most requested food of the night was the Moroccan Meatballs with cucumber yogurt dipping sauce.  They were OUTSTANDING. 
Once we put the kids to bed (a big THANKS to Roger and Amy who seemed perfectly content to keep them occupied the first two hours of the party) it was time for the White Elephant game.  Instead of the usual way we play, we introduced a board game.  It involved each player reading a card after their turn opening or stealing a present.  At first it was chaotic as everyone figured out the game, but by the end everyone seemed really into it.  What also made this game different is that the cards took away all control over who got what gift.  One card might say, "Find the person wearing the most green in the room and swap your gift for theirs," or "Have everyone move their gift one person to the right," or "Take the gift from the person who went before you and force them to open a gift still under the tree."  That made it a lot more fun, I think.  The only bad thing is that one person out of all 23 never got a chance to go to the tree to get a gift because of the way the cards made the gifts/numbers switch around.
What made me laugh was the speed with which everyone left after the game.  We usually have people stay another hour after the game ends, but this year at least half the people scooted out the door as soon as we cleared away the trash and brought out dessert.  In fact, we were down to only 8 people in the house by 11 p.m.!!  That NEVER happens!!  However, this made cleanup end all the sooner and I was in bed before 1 a.m.
All in all a fun event and I think everyone had a great time.  On to 2011!!
Note to self: if we win the lottery this year, do some construction and expand our TV room from 14×19 to 20×19 and do the WE game in that room instead.  A large square room would be much more conducive to game play than a rectangular room. 

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  1. The spinach-potato balls were very dry. And to me they didn’t have ENOUGH flavor. So we’ll probably pass on those. The other one I’d ditch is the fried raviolis. They aren’t something that can be pre-cooked and then reheated just before serving. They were very rubbery. But everything else was fantastic!

  2. It was a fun party. And the food was fab.

    The spinach-potato balls had good flavor – they needed a dipping sauce or something. The fried ravioli, as you said, is not a make ahead thing. They would have been awesome freshly made that night, but I know that’s impossible.

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