Our favorite thing about hosting parties is making little things.
Bite-sized cake pops, mini meatballs, handheld tarts, bitty bundt cakes, simple salad skewers – you name it, we’ve probably served it at a party.
Sure, these little food items take way more work to prep than, say, an all-out buffet. But we can’t help it. It’s not a true party without at least one thing you can sneak into your mouth without a plate and without proof!
Making little things doesn’t always translate to food though.
It also applies to little moments – the snapshots and small interactions that end up defining a gathering.
Let’s face it: hosting is not easy. We’ll make to-do lists a week or two out, prep everything possible in advance, and somehow I’ll still have a meltdown the day-of from a house that refuses to stay clean or a dish that cannot seem to cooperate.
Thank goodness for Jason. He’s Mr. Game Day and always keeps his cool on the final stretch when I reach my breaking point.
Even when guests arrive, we’re never fully present enough to enjoy the celebrations. The tea needs to be replenished, more towels need to be located, dishes need to be cleared to make room for more incoming, the toddler just woke up from her nap… the list goes on.
So you put stock in the little moments. The quick yet meaningful connection you have with someone new. A bout of genuine laughter shared between two mutual friends who just met one another. A clink of glasses around the kitchen island to celebrate all of us finally being in one place after months of busy schedules. The story that undoubtedly captures everyone’s attention and interest. That brief moment you get to sit down and soak in the room for a well-earned breath.
These are the little things we live for and that eventually paint the picture for what we will remember the most from each social event.
We’ve been fortunate enough to have two of these pictures painted for us in the past two months: first, with a lovely afternoon tea baby shower for our girl Whitney, followed by a somewhat impromptu Easter lunch with friends we hadn’t seen in ages.
The “afternoon tea for the mom-to-be” baby shower was particularly charming. The sun broke through on an otherwise overcast week in March, six different teas brewed in an eclectic array of antique cups, and a delicious array of tea sandwiches, quiches, crab cakes, macarons, bundt cakes, and earl grey shortbread cookies were served up in the most miniature of forms.
It meant the world to have Whitney back in our home before baby’s arrival. Her visit from Texas and our subsequent celebrations simply reminded us of how easy our friendship is, no matter the distance.
About a month later, we had an altogether different affair in the form of Easter lunch [aka – “eat all the special things day”].
Our dining room table couldn’t hold all of the platters of salmon canapés, homemade bread and cheese, spinach salad, baked ham, and reverse-seared prime rib with horseradish aioli. And that’s not to mention all of the desserts…
Then there were the Cadbury egg no-bakes and the chocolate frogs [because it isn’t Easter without something Harry Potter themed, right?] If that wasn’t enough, our friends Katelyn and Lyndsay brought gifts in the form of almond sugar cookies and a decadent multi-layered carrot cake.
Yes, it was a lot of food — and I’m positive we all left with the requisite Easter sugar and champagne highs — but it was still a day full of those little moments…
Of Lilia’s first [five minute!] Easter egg hunt. Of a hilarious conversation about hand modeling. Of a surprisingly empty pan of green bean casserole — a runaway hit. Of wandering outside before the rain to spot the flowers. Of unexpected rosebud hostess gifts. Of laughing at the toddler who refused anything but eclairs. Of the general satisfaction of having these delightful Denver souls in our house, despite the short notice and other family commitments.
The little things add up. Eat enough hors d’oeuvres, and your stomach will eventually be full. Surround yourself with short snapshots of joy, and your heart will inevitably be full as well.
Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
Two parties in two months offers plenty of recipe sharing potential. But as is the case with most of our posts, I’m sharing the dish that was both popular and photographed. [Sometimes food disappears before I remember to take a picture of it!] This recipe only requires six ingredients — all of which we already had on hand given our love of tea. Just be sure to carve out a couple of hours to let the tea “steep” in the butter for maximum flavor. This recipe was adapted from Sugar and Soul.
- 1 c. butter, room temperature [omit salt if using salted butter]
- 2 bags [or 2 tsp.] Earl Grey loose tea leaves
- 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 2 c. flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Dipping chocolate, melted
In a standing mixer, blend the butter and earl grey tea leaves together with the paddle attachment and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
After “steeped”, preheat oven to 350° F and line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
Beat powdered sugar into the butter and tea mixture.
Add in the flour and salt and continue to beat until a soft dough forms. Note that the mix will seem dry and crumbly in the beginning but will eventually come together after several minutes of beating.
- Bring dough together on a lightly floured surface and roll until dough is about 1/4″ thick, preferably as close to a rectangle shape as possible.
- Using a ruler to guide you, cut out the cookies with a pizza or pastry wheel. A sharp, non serrated knife will also do. Tea bags should measure approximately 3.5″ long and 1.5″ wide. Use a straw to achieve tea bag holes.
- Transfer to lined baking sheets with a spatula and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges are light golden brown in color. Rotate pans halfway through to ensure consistency.
- Once cooled, dip in chocolate and refrigerate until set.