Spring is a busy time around the Bailey house. Mr. Bailey, being a pillar of the community, is involved with a variety of charitable organizations. There are galas, performances, silent auctions and fundraisers to attend.
Evenings become times for socializing, swirling drinks and scurrying home to pay babysitters. So we don’t host much during the spring.
But this time of warm and wonderful year here in temperate Bedford Falls, always reminds me of hosting fetes in home, which I love to do, am intimidated by, and dream of accomplishing more frequently.
It’s all because of my mother.
My mother always taught me a hostess should be the epitome of graciousness. Besides being welcoming, kind, courteous and benevolent, a hostess’ job was to make everyone in the room feel utterly special, treated and spoiled just by being at her event.
When I was younger I thought it was a rather old-fashioned idea, but as I grew to the age of wedding showers, baby showers and dinner parties, I began to understand the critical role of the hostess. My mother is the perfect model for this.
Another significant clue: A paragon of the party, when I offered to have showers for friends, they would firmly hint at the possibility of both my mom and I hosting. Her home, when you are invited for an event, is just about the most pleasant place to be.
The décor coordinates seamlessly with the season and event. Wisps of ribbon dance along chic white tree branches or flourishes of seasonal greens. Photographs of you, throughout the years, might be displayed sweetly on the buffet. Handmade signs will bear your name, welcoming you, celebrating this life-changing occasion.
There will be delightful music playing, but you’ll barely be able to hear it over the pleasant buzz of conversation and peals of laughter. Your handcrafted peach iced tea or homemade strawberry lemonade will be poured out of crystal pitchers into dainty glass cups with a corresponding ribbon tied to the handle.
If you are religious, a sentimental and beautiful prayer will be said on your behalf. It will mention you by name. If you’re not, a moment-encompassing poem will be read. If you are lucky, it might be something written by the hostess for this occasion.
There will always be plenty of mouth-watering food, both light and satisfying and slightly sinful. Bread is a staple and comes in the form of buttery croissants from great-grandma’s recipe or fresh rolls selected from one of the top local bakeries. When you rise slightly to go back for seconds, the food you are seeking will be instead brought to you tableside for refills.
Dessert will be served in ornate porcelain tea cups – either a fruit brule or a chocolate mousse, alongside freshly brewed coffee and a silver tray of homemade biscotti or sugar cookies.
Everyone who attends will receive a thoughtful favor, typically containing something handmade, to take home with them. Cookies wrapped in cellophane and tulle are often presented, tagged with a hand-written note of love and gratitude for your presence.
So I understood when my friends implied about my Mom, and I gladly acquiesced. My Mom, for her part, relishes the entire exhausting process. She’s always loved to host. It provides a perfect theater for her nature – the ultimate caregiver, selfless mother, wife and friend.
As a result, Mom and I hosted probably a dozen showers over the years my friends and family were getting married and having babies. She was the genius behind them. Me? The server, the maitre de and coat check girl. But being an observer of her methods taught me a lot.
And once this season of galas and gallivanting are over, I resolve to host again.