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May Day Dessert Party

May Day Dessert Party

Traditionally observed by dancing around a maypole or anonymously gifting someone with a basket of flowers, May Day is the perfect holiday for hosting a dessert party. Because May Day is no longer celebrated with traditional elements (unless you happen to be at the Renaissance Faire), your guests won't expect over-the-top festivities; instead, you can host this simple, tasty party.

    You'll Need
  • Ingredients for each of the recipes and any serving tools
  • Candles
  • Flowers
  • CDs
  • Favor materials: construction paper, stapler, ribbon, basket "filling"
Date, Theme, Budget, and Venue
May 1—Schedule your party to begin at a reasonable hour, and yet after dinner. Depending upon your friends and your lifestyle, this party could begin anytime between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m.

Flowers and sweets theme—A simple party connotes a simple theme. Focus on flowers and the fare, and you'll execute this party theme without a hitch.

Low to midrange budget—Although you won't be spending money on a full menu or many other expensive elements, you can break the bank on fancy desserts. Plan to spend anywhere from $5 to $15 per person, depending upon your bank account and love of sweets.

Your living room venue—Desserts and coffee don't require much in the way of table service, so dish up your desserts at the coffee table.

Guest List and Invitations
Your guest list should include 8 to 20 people. This party can really accommodate any size of guest list; just be sure to invite enough people to warrant purchasing a great number of delicious desserts. Also, this party is a great way to begin or cement new friendships, so feel free to invite co-workers and neighbors, along with friends and family.

Although you could easily send paper invitations if so inclined, a web-based invitations program will do the job nicely. Make sure to explain your party on your invitations; you don't want hungry guests showing up and looking for traditional party fare.

You might also ask guests to bring their favorite dessert wine or liqueur. Conversely, you can ask guests to bring their favorite desserts—enough to serve six people—and you supply the wine. You'll receive fancier fare without the big budget.

Keep the menu simple and sweet. Plan for one and a half servings of dessert per person, which will give guests the opportunity to sample different dishes without stuffing themselves silly. (For recipes, please refer to the appropriate online chapters in "Eating and Drinking").

  • Dessert—Cream Cheese Brownies, Mom's Strawberry Trifle; make or purchase at least three other desserts, including a variety of textures (cheesecake, fruit tart, German chocolate cake, custard, bread pudding, cookies). Dish up small portions so guests can sample several desserts.

  • Beverages—A full coffee bar, complete with cream, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla syrup, KahlSa, and Irish Créme. Brew regular and decaf coffee.
To fancify your dessert party, visit bakeries specializing in desserts. Purchase a wide variety of different cakes, pies, tortes, and cookies, and serve small portions on paper doilies.

To expand your selection without emptying your wallet, take the potluck approach, making one or two desserts and inviting guests to bring their favorites.

Décor and Favors
For this party to be a success, the only décor you'll need is a clean home, a few bouquets of fresh flowers, and several strategically placed candles.

Make May Day baskets for your favors. A modern take on the traditional May Day gift, these small "baskets" will delight guests at a reasonable price. Make paper cones out of construction paper (cut out an 8"-diameter circle, make a 4" cut down to the middle, roll into a cone, and staple or glue), attach a ribbon loop to the top, forming a hook. Fill the baskets with candy, cookies, fresh flowers, bundles of herbs, incense, votive candles, small toys, or anything else your sense of whimsy (or your budget) dictates.

For added flair, letter your guests' names on the baskets before you staple them together. Be sure to make a few extra for unexpected arrivals.

Music and Entertainment
Your music should be smooth and mellow. Because this party will focus on conversation, be sure to select music that won't drown out your guests' voices. Jazz, standards, new age, classical, instrumental, opera, vocals, or world music are all appropriate. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Sympatique, Pink Martini
  • Shadow Music of Java, Hardo Budoyo Ensemble of Wono
  • Amor e gelosia (Love and Jealousy), Patrizia Ciofi (Soprano), Joyce di Donato (Mezzo), Alan Curtis
No need to plan entertainment or activities for this party; the focus is on food and conversation. If you do attend an event prior to the party, stimulate conversation with a few open-ended questions about the performance or exhibit ("Wasn't the soprano lovely?").

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