So we have new neighbours and we thought that it was about time that we did some entertaining and invited them in, but how should we go about it. We had been round to one of the new neighbours, who have children, for tea. If we reciprocated wouldn't the children be bored? That is if they came. At Christmas time it is more usual to have people round for drinks, but the neighbours are Muslims. Now on the other side we now have a single man. Some thought would have to go into how we entertained to keep all parties happy. Then we had to think about the fact that we did not want red wine spilt on our off white carpet. Not a very sensible colour I know, but our living room is dark and needed a light carpet. After some consideration we decided to invite all of the neighbours from the five houses around ours to a small drinks party, which would give all of the neighbours a chance to meet the new residents. If they all came it would be, including us, twelve adults plus two children, Surely that would be manageable and the guests would fit into the kitchen and the dining room rather than the living room. So no need to worry about red wine being spilt on our off white carpet.
The format had been decided. The next decision was the date. Not everybody could come on our preferred date, which meant changing it to an earlier date. Not ideal, but we wanted as many of the neighbours as possible to be able to come. Next there was the issue of sprucing up the cottage before we let any of the neighbours set foot inside it. Most of the time I am too busy to notice the dust and cobwebs. However, I was sure that the neighbours would notice them while trying to make small talk with one another. Hence the cottage had a clean, which I am embarrassed to say was much needed in some areas. It was not a one woman effort, I did have some help from husband.
Now we just needed to buy the food and drink. I had decided that we would have an outing to Waitrose on the other side of Chester. For those or you unfamiliar with UK supermarkets Waitrose is considered to be the most upmarket of our supermarkets and consequently the 'go to' option for party food, but you do pay a premium for their supermarkets to be clean and well lit with uncrowded aisles. Husband came with me, which he does not normally do, but I needed a strong man to carry all those bottles of wine that we were going to need. On my list were stollen, mince pies (sorry I cannot make pastry) and mulled wine, which is a popular drink here in the UK at Christmas time.
The drinks party was to take place on the Sunday. On Friday we went to the supermarket. Our first problem was the mulled wine. We could not find it and had to ask an assistant. To make life easier I wanted ready made mulled wine, but they only had two bottles. That would not go far among twelve people. So OK plan B, I'll have to make it myself from red wine. Mince pies we found, but where was the stollen? Again we had to ask and they were actually out of stock of the bites that I wanted. Never mind, I bought slices and cut them up. This was disappointing. I had expected Waitrose to be better organised.
On Friday evening I cleaned the kitchen floor and on Saturday morning everything was going fairly well until the U bend under the kitchen sink decided to block while husband was out, of course. I have always regarded plumbing as being his department. I am sure that I could unblock the U bend if I wanted or needed to, but there are times when it pays to play the helpless little woman. Husband was not too pleased to be asked to unblock the U bend as soon as he walked through the door, but then I was not very pleased that it had happened when I was busy in the kitchen. It took several attempts over the course of about an hour, during which time the air in the kitchen turned very blue, to unblock the U bend. Luckily up until that point my preparations for the drinks party were going well and I was ahead of schedule.
In the afternoon we managed to put up the Christmas tree and some decorations to make the cottage feel at least at bit more festive. I had decided that I would only put the decorations up if I had the time to do so. It seemed strange to have decorations up when not one Christmas card had arrived. The next task was to sort out some suitable music for the CD player. We have enough CDs to start a shop but most of them are not appropriate background music for a party and we do not have any CDs of Christmas music.
Finally on the Sunday morning I made a jug of non-alcoholic punch from a recipe that I found on the Internet. It tasted fine to me and went down well with our tee total neighbours. We had an early lunch. Changed into our party clothes. Husband lit the log fire in the snug and we waited for the guests to arrive. It seemed to go OK. Everybody got along. There were no arguments or fights and no one got drunk. No wine was spilt and no glasses were broken.
We had enjoyed having the party and had learnt a few things along the way. It was a challenge. There had been more to think about and consider than we had perhaps expected. My next challenge is Christmas lunch tomorrow, but I have done it several times before.
I wish you all a Happy Christmas