Tuesday, December 20, 2011


When my sister came to visit me two months ago, I threw a Meet-the-Twin party in her honor. Afterward, she told me how much fun she had. "You know what your party reminded me of?" she said. "A French salon."

I remember being fascinated by the concept of the salon when I studied French history in high school.

These fabulous parties would bring together people from all parts of society to mix and converse. Any salon worth its salt featured a star-studded guest list, scintillating conversation, and booze that flowed like milk and honey.

But the thing that really fascinated me about salons was that they were hosted by women.

Frank and I preparing drinks at my Christmas party
Women at the time didn't have any formal political power. But they were able to affect real advances in literature and philosophy. They did their part to change the world. And they did it by throwing fabulous parties.

I didn't consciously plan it at the time, but the idea of salons lodged in my brain. What an awesome, fun way to educate yourself and other people. Without even thinking about it, I hoped that I would someday throw salons of my own.

And now I have my own apartment. I have chairs and tables. I have money to buy appetizers and drinks, and candles. Lots and lots of candles. Because what's a salon without mood lighting?

Snacks on snacks at my party. Note the home-made candlesticks, fashioned from an old cupcake box.
One of my favorite bloggers writes about how mothers set the tone of their home. She is the "master of energy," she says, and her mood affects how everyone else feels.

In a much smaller way, I think that hosts have this same kind of responsibility when guests come over. After all, if I'm not pressing drinks into people's hands and making absurdly flattering introductions, who will?

So here is my hostessing philosophy in a nutshell:

I believe in inviting lots of interesting people from every different area of your life.

I believe in ample sustenance and libations to spare.

I believe in good conversations about things that matter (in other words, the topics of religion and politics are perfectly welcome).

And I believe in building friendships by introducing people who have never met before but who have a lot in common. I love it when people meet a new best friend or get a date at my parties (it's happened!).

I secretly kind of hope that by throwing parties, I might even be doing a tiny part to change the world. At the very least, I'm having a lot of fun. And I'm learning to do what Catholics do best - celebrating this brief, beautiful mortal life and how wonderful it truly is.

On that note, Merry Christmas!


  1. Tess, I stumbled across your blog a few days ago; I'm afraid I've been reading each new post voraciously! Your blog is so delightful and so full of insight...and I must say your parties sound lovely! Thank you for sharing something truly beautiful.

  2. Magistra05, I think this is the nicest blog comment I've received. I almost didn't respond to it because I didn't think any response could do it justice! Anyway, you pretty much made my month. :) Thank you for reading and for liking what you read here; people like you are the reason I keep writing. So happy to hear you're enjoying it!

  3. Your food table is making me salivate. So much abundance! I've been moving towards fewer different types of offerings at my parties to make things easier on myself, but your picture has me rethinking that. Go big or go home, right? The variety really makes it festive.

  4. Thanks, Meghan! Honestly, it's a double-edged sword... making all that food is hard work and then you have to deal with so many leftovers after the fact! (Well, maybe the latter isn't so bad, haha). But I just love the look of a table packed with goodies.

    This party was also a special case. I had invited 4 friends who are allergic to gluten so I resolved that I would make a gluten-free version of EVERY SINGLE food at the party (and I used little post-it notes to label the gluten-free stuff on the table). Wow, was that a huge time commitment. But everything turned out great, my gluten-free friends were completely thrilled, and now I know how to make lots of delicious gluten-free recipes!