Happy New Year! I hope you had a fantastic time celebrating last week? I had an absolute blast!
This year I stuck with tradition and hosted a black tie dinner party chez moi. It follows a regimented routine of 1 course of dinner, 1 round of games, another round of dinner, another round of games etc. Organised fun is the best kind of fun.
I’m joking! Of COURSE I’m joking…. That sound horrendous even to me. We don’t actually stick to the strict plan, obvs.
Ross kicked things off with his delicious array of starters. We had asparagus wrapped in pancetta, cheesy quesadillas and slow-cooked pork belly with a sweet honey & soy sauce. They were divine and it was nice to have a light, nibbley starter selection when we had so much food ahead. The first game was ‘the hat game’ (known as salad bowl game too, amongst other names) . Everyone writes down 7 or 8 names on a piece of paper (you want about 50 in total). These can be people or nouns. You fold up the pieces of paper a couple of times and chuck them all into a hat (ah yes, you’ve spotted where the name comes from, clever thing). You divide into two teams and while one team takes the hat, the other is in charge of the 1 minute timer. The aim of the game is to get as many points as possible by the end of the game. You do this in 3 ways – with the ‘actor’ switching after every minute.
Round 1: The person with the hat looks at the piece of paper and has to describe the ‘thing’ to their team using whatever descriptions they like but not saying the word itself – a bit like charades.
You won’t finish all the words in the first minute, so just keep the ones you’ve done to one side after each go until you’ve been through all the hat words with round 1. At this point you pause the timer and chuck all the words back into the hat for round 2 and restart timer for the remainder of the minute and then continue back and forth per team.
Round 2: The person with the hat has to say just 1 word to describe the ‘thing’. This isn’t as hard as it sounds as you’ve already heard the words once in the previous round. If your team can’t get it they just have to shout out words they remember from the previous round and hope to guess the correct one!
Round 3: The person with the hat has to act out the ‘thing’. No sounds allowed.
Our next meal was the raclette. We had the most delicious piece of fresh beef which we cut up into small pieces. I seared mine on top of the hot-plate for a few seconds each side so it was deliciously rare, nom nom nom! We also had various types of pre-sliced cheese – smoked applewood, port salut, leerdammer – which we popped in the ‘cheese paddles’ beneath the heated plate until they had melted perfectly for pouring over our skinny fries and salad. A taste sensation! It was a great idea for the evening as not only did I have very little to prepare in advance, but it was also a really sociable and different way of dining.
The next game was one we discovered in the iPhone App Store. It is a bit like charades but the game is all done through your smart phone so no need to mess around with pens and paper. You simply choose your category (from describing superstars or acting out animals with just noises and actions, to putting on different accents) and hold the phone up to your head so you can’t see it. If you guess the word on the screen correctly you tip your head forward which the phone recognises as ‘correct’ and pulls up a new word. If you can’t guess the answer you throw your head backwards for a ‘pass’. During the game your phone will also video the team of actors in front of you so at the end of the game you can replay your friends crazily prancing around your living room. Brilliant!These daft games distracted us so much that it was only at 11:56 that we suddenly realised it was so close to midnight! As quick as I could I grabbed up my bowl of 12 grapes, and in Spanish tradition, got ready to chomp down them down, 1 for every strike of the clock at midnight. Fortunately we’d only got through 2 courses so I still had some space left. Grapes consumed, we hugged and cheered, whooped and hollered, and sung in the new year. To ensure our wishes for 2014 were acheived, we also decided to follow a Russian tradition. They believe that by writing your desires on a piece of paper and burning it on a candle, then drinking the ashes down with champagne, your wish will surely be fulfilled. I of course obliged in this exciting, burny tradition without so much as a lick of flame against my skin. Unfortunately to prevent burning myself I also left a rather big unburnt bit – VERY papery. But with enough champers, my slightly singed wish eventually unstuck from my palate and washed its way down to my stomach. Fingers crossed, eh!Our next task was to come up with suitable New Year’s resolutions. I don’t tend to agree with life-changing statements as it’s probably the worst time of year to embark on a tough challenge – particularly with the most depressing day of the year just a few days into your challenge (6th Jan, so they say). I prefer to pick up these tougher tasks later in the year whilst the sun is shining. Instead, I went the opposite way. No more gyming and long, boring runs to keep fit. Instead, I will only do the things that I genuinely enjoy and make me happy. Cycling, hockey, and lunchtime football at work gives me plenty of exercise, and a nice big grin whilst doing so! Better late than never, we tucked into glorious bowlfuls of eton mess for dessert. Soph had cleverly kept dessert light and fruity, so that in between finished our pudding and throwing around some of our very best dance moves, we still had just a tiny bit of space left afterwards to squeeze in the most wonderful cheese of the year. All 2 hours into it.
A terrific night was had by all, they say. Hurrah!
Here’s to papery wishes coming true in 2014… x