All you dinner party experts out there, I take my hat off to you. (It's currently a woolly cream one, because my goodness it's cold.)
I realised one evening, whilst hubby and I were reminiscing about a social life before Tommy, that it had been in fact four whole years since we entertained in the evening.
Wow. For four years we'd got away with only inviting friends for lunch around the oak table, or barbecues in the garden, or engaging in a Sunday roast at lunchtime with family. How had we managed it?
The last Saturday night we invited evening guests to our establishment was way back in the polka dot home. Then, for the next four years, I guess we were careful with money/I got pregnant and was tired and envious of people drinking/had Tommy and realised we had a child who didn't sleep very well and evenings with other people would be very difficult.
But I missed it. Being a slight control and organise freak, I missed the planning and preparing, and the hosting.
I missed my friends!
We realised we had a long list of people to invite, but ever conscious of other people's lives, in particular travelling time and child care, and then admitting we don't actually get invited out anywhere, together, anymore (other than kids parties), we drew up a short list of one couple.
Step forward Georgia and Robert, you were our chosen victims, I mean guests, for the evening. You lucky so and so's!
Plus, we remembered they were the only people who'd recently invited us to theirs for a meal, thanks guys. As well as kindly extending the invite by stating, "Bring Tommy too!"
It was time to repay their generosity and warn them, "Tommy will most definitely probably still be up!" Luckily, they are great with kids and used to looking after Georgia's sister's kids, and don't mind at all kids being present. Hurrah for child friendly couples.
So. After a modern invite via text, and a date written in my new 2016 organiser (have I told you how much I love this organiser, it even has stickers for important events!), the planning and preparing begun.
For weeks I lost myself in cook books and day dreams of wowing my guests with expertly served food. Then I recalled that, although not bad at presentation and ambiance, I'm not really an expert cook.
Also, Tommy is going through another clingy stage. Therefore, it was no use cooking a fancy meal that took simply ages to prepare, as no doubt Tommy would be holding onto my legs and insisting I pick him up and play with him.
I decided on a Mexican theme. Fun, something I had created before, and wouldn't take ages to prepare, or ages to cook whilst guests were being ignored by their host.
Mexican dishes here I come!
I shopped at three different supermarkets for the occasion. The first one was the expensive one, where I bought impressive looking food but at a high price. Then it dawned on me I didn't actually have that much money - who books dinner parties in January when they've over spent at Christmas and now have to fork out for nursery fees?
Erm, me, that's who.
I progressed to the very cheap supermarket for my next ingredients, but alas they did not cater for all my needs. Although I must say the booze was a bargain.
I ended up at my usual, middle priced, supermarket, where I bought the remainder of my shopping list. Including extras such as Irish coffees, in their own individual glasses, ready to heat in microwave; pre-prepared cappuccinos, after dinner mints, a new bowl, whimsical flowers and scented candles.
I spent a fortune!
Still, it wasn't like we did it all the time, was it? That's what I kept telling myself as I threw the long receipts away and tried to cram all food and drink into any space I could find in the kitchen.
Oh did I mention that I spent the days before the evening looking at my house through guests eyes, and as a result spent days scrubbing and cleaning and trying to create extra space.
When the date finally arrived, I cleaned some more, and despite thinking I was creating an easy meal, I spent all day chopping and stirring and adding, and burning and cutting myself. And tying to prise Tommy off my legs, because he wanted me to pick him up and play with him.
When guests arrived, I must confess, I was desperately trying to act sober. We'd bought so much wine that I thought it would be rude not to start drinking some, fairly early into the evening to be honest, but it was helping me to relax in the process.
It didn't work, Georgia looked at me, laughed, and said, "How much have you had to drink?" Or something like that, I was too tiddly to remember.
Anyway, we had a smashing night thank you.
Despite panicking at one point that I hadn't made enough food. I had, we were eating it for days.
Despite the fact I felt absolutely shocking the next day, I painfully remembered why I am now pretty sensible.
And despite the fact I was frantically trying not to stress about how long it took for our little home to look normal again. We have a tiny dishwasher and it took many attempts to clean all the dishes and glasses and bowls and plates. Of course, it didn't once occur to us to actually wash up ourselves.
And despite the fact my usually cheerful Tommy was a bit grumpy the next day, due to his late, albeit fun, night.
And despite the fact I avoided my bank account for ages afterwards.
Here's to another four years!?