Party Mode: ON


I am deep into planning for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party later this summer. Ten years ago, I gave my parents a 40th anniversary dinner. We had 20 people in a nice restaurant, and it was awesome and not terribly expensive. But I wanted them to have something bigger for their 50th, with as much family there as possible, without it being super-fancy.

So we’re having an afternoon reception in the social hall at their church. The space and time are reserved, I have invitations and a guest list, and I have a long, LONG list of things yet to do.

My mom has always been the big party planner in the family. “Mom’s in Party Mode again” has been a running joke for as long as I can remember. She’s 70 now and doesn’t have the energy to do big things anymore, but she still loves the process. Naturally, that means she’s driving me a little bit nuts.

“Mom,” I keep reassuring her. “I grew up learning about parting planning from you. I know what you like and what you don’t, and I can do this without breaking the bank. Redirect all that energy toward stressing over what you’re going to wear.”

(That last part she’s already doing with no prompting from me anyway.)

It’s kind of amazing how much work is involved even with a simple party. The guest list has been a bear, mainly tracking down current addresses for everyone who needs a mailed invitation. I made a decision early on to buy party trays and a premade cake, but someone has to be dispatched to pick those up. I love figuring out table decorations, and I think I’ve figured out how to do that without spending huge amounts. We aren’t going crazy with flowers, but Mom loves ferns, and a local florist will rent them with stands, so I need to call and set that up. We have some gorgeous silver pieces, including a big punchbowl and five-branch candelabra—all of which will have to be polished. And I’m setting up a memorabilia table with pictures and such.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something important. Like stressing out over what I’m going to wear.

Anyway, one of the few things I’m allowing Mom to do is making the base for the punch. She has a recipe she loves that can be made and frozen way ahead of time, and they have plenty of freezer space. I asked if she’d be willing to share the Secret Recipe, and she grudgingly agreed.

(I kid. She loves sharing recipes!)

So wish me luck getting the party together, and if anyone wants to show up for kitchen labor, just let me know. 😉

Party Punch

One 6-oz. package strawberry gelatin mix (or any flavor you like)
Four cups boiling water
Four 12-oz. cans frozen lemonade
Two 46-oz. cans pineapple juice
Six 2-liter bottles ginger ale

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add lemonade and stir until dissolved. Add pineapple juice and stir well. Punch base can be frozen at this point and thawed before serving.

To serve, mix equal parts punch base and ginger ale in punch bowl. Float frozen strawberries and pineapple chunks, ice cubes with lemon slices, and/or a fruit ice ring in the punch. Makes about 50 servings.

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