What curve ball will you catch (or drop!) at your holiday party?

As our holiday open-house approached, I worried about what could go wrong.

Disasters from events past haunted me. Some were simple like a goblet shattered on the deck or not having an empty vase for a hostess-gift-bouquet. Some were more awful: A neighbor over-imbibing and spilling shiraz on my professor or when I greeted a colleague at our meatatarian BBQ and remembered (too late!) that she’s vegan.

I never imagined that the evening’s curve ball would be a hit.

Shortly after the party began, I welcomed my knitting pals F&C. Silently, C passed me a paper bag with an attached piece of foolscap:

What?!?! This wasn’t part of the plan! (You’re right, I’m a control freak.) But I smiled (my friend Prosecco made me go with the flow), scribbled something amusing and took the bag to a neighbor who added to the sheet before passing it on.

Blueberry, Pine Nut and Lemon Bark


While the bag was being shaken, sniffed and possibly even licked by guests drafting their responses, everyone crunched on Spicy Maple Cashews, salivated over Rosemary-Orange-Lemon-Curd Slice, plunged into Cranberry Ginger Brie and nibbled on White Chocolate Bark with Blueberries, Pine Nuts and a Zest of Lemon.



To many giggles, F&C’s daughter J read the responses and chose three finalists. Then we voted. My mother-in-law’s wittiness resonated best with the many crafters in attendance, if not with their spouses:

"I want it because I know my husband will say, 'You don't need that!' and I'd love to prove him wrong."





The game was a home run and so was the rest of the party. Phew!

About what did my mother-in-law prove my father-in-law wrong? In the comment section tell me why you need to know and I’ll send you the answer AND I’ll enter you in a draw to win a mystery prize.

You can also enter the draw by commenting about your own party curveball.

Contest closes on January 10th at 11.59pm.

While the real winner of the party was the unexpected game, the food was a close second. Be sure to check out my holiday party yumminess: A review of  Tasha DeSerio‘s article Sweets and Sparklers from Fine Cooking‘s December 2010/January 2011 issue as well as some of my own recipes and ideas to simplify the menu while making it even more dazzling.


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  1. #1 by Phyllis on December 21, 2010 - 8:57 am

    Sounds fun. My guess is a pair of hand knitted slippers.

    • #2 by cookthestory on December 21, 2010 - 10:42 am

      It was not a pair of hand knitted slippers. Good guess. Now, tell me why you NEED to know what was in that bag and I’ll enter you into the draw :). Sorry but contest rules have to be followed, even if you are my mom.

      • #3 by Linda on December 28, 2010 - 5:13 pm

        Oh, dear, I need to know because I’m a control freak, too! I’ll feel all itchy and my day will be incomplete until I know what was in there, as I’m imagining the game and peoples’ responses.

        I’m also going to guess that it was something handknit, but I’ll say fingerless gloves (which would be useful and wonderful in most any climate). . . maybe with an intricate Fair Isle pattern!

        Bonus (sort of): my party curveball was the tea party I threw where no one at all wanted tea (except me, and with all my pretty teacups set out and waiting and two types of tea in pots – you can picture it, I’m sure!) and I had to beg my husband to go out and buy more champagne. The guests were very happy. . .

      • #4 by cookthestory on January 2, 2011 - 7:21 pm

        Linda, I think we should embrace our control-freak-ness. It means we’re on top of what’s going on in our lives and around us. Now, speaking of freaks, who doesn’t like tea? Just kidding. My husband doesn’t like tea and while that always baffles me, I don’t think he’s a freak, or not really too much of one.

        Thanks for the comment. I’ll let you know what was in the bag once the contest ends.

  2. #5 by Kelly on December 27, 2010 - 9:36 am

    I need to know because I want to play this game at my next girlfriend get together but can’t until I know the ending!

    • #6 by cookthestory on January 2, 2011 - 7:16 pm

      Good answer! I’ll let you know what was in there once the contest closes.

  3. #7 by Barb Weber on January 2, 2011 - 5:20 pm

    I need to know so I can play the game with family and friends when we getogether. We are always looking for a different approach to mixing it up. Plus I have 3 other knitting groups that it would be fun to do it with. Did anyone reach in the bag? I;m guessing it was nothing. So your Mother -in -law could be so right as she needed it to prove her husband wrong. Barb Weber

    • #8 by cookthestory on January 2, 2011 - 7:07 pm

      Ha ha! Actually, there was something in the bag. But no, I don’t think anyone reached inside to find out. I’ll email you with the answer once the draw has happened.

  4. #9 by Terri Pike on January 2, 2011 - 5:40 pm

    1. I am going to borrow that idea for the next party I go to!!

    2. I am sorry I missed the shindig, but that was the night of my husband’s work party 😦 Sounds like I missed a lot!

    3. My party curveball was when no one showed up. At all.

    4. I need to know because I’m very very nosy like Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched.

    5. My guess is that was a “re-gift” of something they got and didn’t want but it was still new so they gave it away as the prize. Specifically, something like <a href="http://www.etsy.com/listing/62482421/sergeant-bosco-portrait-plate-altered&quot; THIS.


    • #10 by cookthestory on January 2, 2011 - 7:13 pm

      1. I seem to remember you instigating a game at another one of my parties. This one could certainly be added to your repertoire!

      2. No worries. You were missed but we did manage to have some fun without you ;). Hope to see you at the next one though.

      3. Really? I think I would cry. I’m always really obsessive about getting rsvp’s though. Maybe that’s why…too afraid of the potential tears.

      4. Ha ha 🙂

      5. Ha ha ha ha ha! That is so awesome! But no, I think C got it specifically to bring. I believe she got it at a thrift shop though. It was possibly used but if so, very gently. Another hint? My mother-in-law, who does cross stitch, was delighted with it, my friend who sews was jealous, and I had no idea what it was. Or no, I thought I knew what it was but it turned out that it had a more specific and interesting purpose than a more generic one would.

  5. #11 by Ellen on January 4, 2011 - 7:20 am

    OK, now I really feel guilty for missing the party, I can see F&C really lighting up a get together and the food sounded wonderful! So glad that you had a great time and hope that by the next shin-dig I will be driving again! Happy New Year!

    • #12 by cookthestory on January 4, 2011 - 7:36 am

      Wish you’d been there, Ellen. It was a fun night! Next time for sure :).

  6. #13 by Audrey on January 14, 2011 - 8:30 pm

    Am I the “friend who sews”? 🙂 Hey, I recently stumbled across one on clearance for $10, I’m no longer jealous, woot!

  1. Planning a New Year’s Eve Party? Here’s My Review of Fine Cooking’s Sweets and Sparklers Menu « Cook the Story
  2. White Chocolate Bark with Blueberries, Toasted Pine Nuts and a Zest of Lemon « Cook the Story
  3. Sparkling Wine, a Brilliant Friend and Groovy Strawberries « Cook the Story

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