Creating Warm Winter Memories
Winter is the perfect time to gather together friends and family to
celebrate the closeness of the season. There's no better place to
gather than next to the warm, cheerful fireplace or wood stove where
people have been gathering for centuries.
A crackling fire provides the perfect backdrop for entertaining. The
warmth and glow of the fire provide a relaxed atmosphere perfect for
meeting your next door neighbors. Or, perhaps it's time to host your
club's next meeting. Wanting to meet the parents of your daughter's
boyfriend? Maybe you're hosting a book club discussion. Whatever
the event, you will have the backdrop to encourage relaxation and
One way to brighten up a party and create a sense of intrigue is to
create a theme for your get together. For an elegant party, set the
table with china and crystal creating an upscale party with evening
dress required (evening gowns and tuxes).
Want to celebrate everyone's anniversary at once? Ask your guests to bring wedding photos, model their wedding dresses or bring their wedding goblets. Everyone has a humorous story related to their wedding. Give a prize for the best story.
Are many of your friends single? Create a "fundraiser" party. Treat your friends to a tasty meal. Then ask them to help decorate cookies for a bake sale. Ask them to help wrap gifts that are being donated for children. lt's a good way to introduce people, not only to each other, but to the needs of the community.
Other themes could be centered on each guest's favorite book, the color red (everyone wears or brings something red), of the old standby a costume party,
Guests will especially enjoy foods centered near your fireplace or wood stove. Hot dogs roasted in the wood burning fireplace, s'mores, popcorn cooked over the fire (or stove) and roasted marshmallows top some of the favorites. Or, make it simple with munchies and hors-d'euvres. lf you are having a sophisticated sit down meal, follow up with drinks and conversation by the fireplace.
A cast-iron Dutch oven is great for cooking stews over the fire. A fireplace crane or tripod is needed to support it while cooking. Cast-iron spiders are like a Dutch oven with legs. Baked apples seasoned with cinnamon and brown sugar provides a savory aromatic scent and is delicious topped with ice cream and toffee sprinkles. Other Dutch oven and wood stove recipes to try include fruit cobblers, dumplings and stews.
Start collecting recipes for parties or have fun experimenting with your favorite recipes. lt's good to be prepared in case the electricity goes out. And remember, never cook over a coal or gas fireplace or gas log set.
Games are always an entertaining prospect. Cards, dominos and packaged games are pretty hard to beat, Even fun dinner conversation can include lively discussions such as:
ten all-time favorite movies,
five favorite songs, and
if you could be part of any TV family, who would it be?
lf you use a retro theme, use fun games from childhood such as:
"hide the thimble" or
"Button, button, who's got the button?"
No matter what kind of party you have, it's sure to be a hit if the fireplace and wood stove are included as a warm, welcoming backdrop. There's nothing like a delectable banquet embodied by the crackling warmth and cheer of a brightly lit fire to draw people together. Combine this with the scents of potpourri or simmering oils in the wood stove steamer, or the aroma of baking apples, it's sure to be a success.
Karen Lamansky has been involved with the hearth industry for 20 years and is the author of "Fireplace Design ldeas" published by Creative Homeowner.
Reprinted, with permission, from the January-February 2009 issue of The Chimney Sweep News, an independent trade magazine for chimney service professionals. Jim Gillam, editor/publisher. 541-882-5196.
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