We hosted Ryan's whole family for dinner on Christmas Eve and the night was a huge success. I worked all day to finish getting the house ready, knowing full well that no one would care if my house was a disaster, but you know how it goes. One moment of panic occurred when Ryan's aunt and uncle and cousin arrived at 4:40, an hour and 20 minutes before the party was scheduled to begin. I was in my robe with my makeup half on and my hair up in a towel and Ryan was wrapping gifts at the kitchen island in his underwear while his jeans finished in the dryer. We scrambled to finish getting ready and Macauley gave the guests a tour of the house and everything turned out fine, but...whew. I had to set up places for 19 people to eat, so I set the worktable in my office for 6. I don't know how many times I had to reassure people that the thrift store sheet music was meant to be a placemat and wasn't priceless and that they could indeed sit their glasses or whatever else on it.
I set my coffee table as the kids table, with Ryan's two teenage cousins on the couch and Macauley and Jahlil on the little folding chairs (which came from my grandparents' church in Muskogee and that my mom sat in during Sunday School as a girl).
We finally dined in the dining room for the first time and Ryan finally attached the chair seats back to the chairs (I recovered them over a year ago and they've just been balanced since).
As the guests arrived, the kitchen filled with people and food. After everyone had eaten, I looked at the buffet on my big island and realized I hadn't actually made a single thing for the feast other than a pitcher of sweet tea. We ordered a Honeybaked Ham as our contribution. Oh well. I'm a decorator not a chef. I did make Ryan's mom's famous Pork-Wrapped Pork (aka Meat Candy--Little Smokies wrapped in bacon and sprinkled with brown sugar) that morning. When I realized that Ryan had my CrockPot at work (for a lunch he provided for his employees), I just left the meat warming in the oven instead of transferring it to the CrockPot, which meant that everytime I walked by the oven I couldn't help but reach in and take one. By the time Ryan got home around 2, the baking sheet was half-empty and with his help, we (mostly I) polished off the whole batch. So in essence, I single-handedly ate an entire packet of Little Smokies and a slab of bacon in a matter of hours. When my stomach got extremely upset right before the party, I wasn't sure whether to attribute it to being caught off guard by the early guests or me literally "pigging out" all day.
The most comfortable place I could think of for such a large group to spread out and open gifts was our bonus room, an area we hadn't done much to at this point. But I got out one of my favorite rugs, finally hung the pictures and shelves stacked around, turned some furniture around and added chairs here and there and threw up one last tree, this one decorated with all our traditional, collected ornaments. All my French Country decor from the old house has ended up in this room, one of the only areas in this house not dominated by my new favorite black and cream.
Everyone loved the house and stayed really late. I'd be happy to host again next year if I'm asked. We opened gifts with Michael and Linda and Ryan's brother and his wife after the rest of the family left. Among other treats, we got a breadmaker! The weather started getting bad just as everyone headed out. It had been a long day, but we still had to clean up after the party and prepare for Santa's visit. I got in bed after 1 am and took a deep breath, happy yet sad that it was all over, knowing there was still more Christmas to come the next day.