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Friday, January 30, 2009

Depression Era Entertaining (or Face to Face Social Networking)

NetFlix just announced a big increase in profits.  Spending at upscale restaurants is down. Spending at McDonald’s and other fast food outlets is up. Due to the recession, rising unemployment, and… you name it, people are going out less these days.  So what to do on those Friday and Saturday nights if you don’t want to spend too much? Dining out?  You could spend several hours dining at an upscale restaurant, and perhaps you used to, but that can be expensive… and it’s hard to spend an entire evening at McDonald’s. Why not have a cocktail party? Of course, you can just drink beer and wine and well drinks at your parties like I used to do, but you’ll be surprised at how much enjoyment well presented and well mixed cocktails can add to your party.

Your first question is probably “how can I afford to throw a cocktail party in these recessionary times?”  Well, a cocktail party doesn’t have to cost that much.  Part of the reason for this blog is to help people socialize more and develop their entertaining skills.  An easy way to get started doing both is by forming a drink-of-the-month club (DOMC). A drink-of-the-month club can be a fun – and inexpensive – way to try new cocktails while getting together with neighbors.  My wife and I formed our first drink-of-the-month club with our neighbors (and good friends), Tim and Melinda, several years ago. The four of us learned a few simple rules that kept our “meetings” safe and enjoyable.

The format of a drink-of-the-month club is simple. Two to four couples (they don’t all have to be couples, but no more than 6-8 people) that are neighbors get together once a month to spend an evening trying new cocktails, munching on appetizers, and sharing good company.  Each couple is responsible for discovering (or developing) a cocktail recipe that is new to the club (this is half the fun), procuring the necessary ingredients, and preparing an appetizer or snack to go with it.  Cocktails can be simple or complex.  If you’re on a tight budget, concentrate on simple cocktails for which you already have all (or most) of the ingredients.

The party is kicked-off at one couple’s place, and moves through everyone’s house or apartment in turn.  You should limit it to one cocktail per location (especially if you have three or more locations).  As an alternative to going from house to house, you can all get together at one location each month.  The disadvantage to doing this is that everyone has to bring their snacks and cocktail fixings to the one location (the advantage is that only one house has to be cleaned up), but both alternatives can result in fun evenings.  The idea is not to get drunk, but to have a few new cocktails and a good time.  Remember, jut because you have a cocktail, doesn't mean you have to finish it.  The reason for having neighbors form a drink-of-the-month club is No Driving Allowed. Alcohol and driving do not mix.

The No Driving rule is one of the key rules that you must enforce.  As others hear about the great times you’re having at your drink-of-the-month club, they will try to angle invitations.  Be firm!  Send them a link to this blog so they can form their own “chapter” of the DOMC, but do not let people drive to your meetings.  If you choose to ignore this rule, make sure there are designated drivers (preferably confirmed non-drinkers), and that everyone knows who they are and refuses to serve them alcohol.  No kidding.

Rules of the drink-of-the-month club

No Driving.

No under age drinkers – always obey local laws.

Be a good neighbor – no noise, no mess.

Only invite neighbors who live within very short walking distance.

One drink per cocktail recipe (unless only two couples are participating).

Keep it small (6-8 people maximum).

Know your limits, and when to stop drinking

Never urge someone to have another drink when they want to stop.


There will be more about forming and maintaining a drink-of-the-month club in future posts.

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