Twelve Months of Parties for 2012

When people ask me what my blog is about, I usually reply that West of the Loop is a food and parenting blog with a thoughtful bent. (The “thoughtful” part is really just a way to say that I write long posts.) Food and parenting are great topics to blog about because they are so all-encompassing. Very little in my life doesn”t fall under one of these two large umbrellas. But ultimately what my blog is really about — to me anyway — is relationships: my relationship with my children, my husband, my extended family, my friends and my community. These relationships are what matter most to me in my life and cooking is one of the ways that I show these people how much they matter to me.

The combination of cooking with friends and family leads naturally to the subject of entertaining. I love hosting people at my home for everything from a casual Sunday brunch, to a holiday party for 18 to an elegant adults-only dinner party. But like most of us, I get intimidated by entertaining. My house is far from a showplace — have I ever mentioned my empty living room? — and my life is busy enough as it is. So although I always find hosting parties to be rewarding and even fun, I don”t do it nearly as much as I could. And when I do invite people over, it tends to fall along the same familiar lines: Sunday night casual dinners or a weekend lunch.

So, for 2012, I am launching a project on West of the Loop that will push me both to entertain more and to entertain in new ways. I”m calling it Twelve Months of Parties. Twelve parties for 2012 — get it? As the name suggests, the idea is to host a different kind of party every month. Some of the parties will be family affairs; some will be for adults only. Some will be seasonal and some will be timeless. The goal is to strengthen my relationships with friends, family and neighbors while at the same time challenging myself to cook new things and entertain in new ways.

I hope to post both before and after each month”s party. The “before” post will describe the plans and the menu for the party while the “after” post will recap the party and report back on what worked and what didn”t.

I have been brainstorming party ideas for the past few days and thinking about which holidays and events I am likely to host at my house. This is what I have come up with. In other words, here is my Twelve Month of Parties for 2012:

January — Family dinner party (casual)
February — Superbowl party
March — Adult dinner party (elegant)
April — Passover Seder
May — Mother”s Day Tea
June — Brunch
July — Summer cookout
August — Cocktail party
September — Kid birthday party
October — Game night
November — Girls Night In
December — Cookie Exchange

I think that this plan is ambitious but not overly so. I hope that at the end of 2012 I will have, in addition to a year”s worth of memorable gatherings to look back on, strengthened relationships with both old friends and new, some fabulous new recipes under my belt and — dare I say it? — a reputation as a great hostess.


anyone wants to join me in this effort, I welcome your participation. We can share menu and decorating ideas and push one another out of our respective comfort zones. If you want to participate in the 12 Months of Parties for 2012, leave me a comment letting me know that you want in. You definitely don”t have to do these same twelve parties. To the contrary, you should pick twelve parties that fit into your lifestyle. If you are a blogger, post about the challenge on your blog and lay out your plan. Link back to this post and I will list all the participating bloggers on my side bar. We can tweet about the challenge as well with the hash tag #12parties.

Hope to party with you in 2012!


  1. Coco Cooks says

    That’s ambitious. I plan to do more entertaining after we move in Feb. Right now we have been dealing with the clutter of combined households and all my parents old stuff. Looking forward to a clean slate and space to start the personal and more corporate type of entertaining we have been putting off.
    I cant jump right in with this as we will me moving over the month of Feb. But I think its a great idea! BTW Martha Stewarts new Book on Entertaining is really inspiring me right now.
    Happy New Year!

    • Emily says

      Moving into a new house will be such an exciting adventure for you and will be a huge inspiration, I’m sure. I can’t wait to hear about the parties you will host there.

  2. Jenn Sutherland says

    Wonderful idea! Not sure I can jump in for 12 parties, but I may join you for a handful of them. After a year with a lot of changes, I’m itching to getting back to hosting friends for meals in our home more often again. Bravo, and Happy New Year!

    • Emily says

      It would be so fun to have a gluten-free take on this project for people who are GF or for those who want to cook for GF friends but are intimidated.