How To Throw Back To School Cocktail Party, Betty Draper Style

I did something last week that I hope will become an annual tradition: our first ever back to school cocktail party.

Why? Because I'm up to my ears preparing one child for school, and I live in a neighborhood where the norm is two or three. That's a lot of backpacks to ready. So I figured that parents deserve a break -- hence the cocktail party. (I did not use recipes from the book pictured to the right after my Girl Friday Lindsey advised I might freak out all the neighbors. Right.)

To start, I reached out to one of my neighbors with three school-aged kids, and checked to see if she thought other people would be into this. We talked about good nights of the week and picked one about a week before the start of school. I sent out an Evite, and the party was on.

Since this was a Tuesday, I didn't have time to do my neurotic normal party prep since I also worked a full day. Here's the compressed timeline:

Weekend before: Worked on straightening up the house (helped by my friend Lindsey, aka My Girl Friday)

Night before: Bought beer, wine and snacks from Costco. If I had more time we would have made more appetizers (OK, Shane would have), but since we were limited I picked up the usual people pleasers: antipasti tray, cilantro shrimp, hummus, spinach dip & assorted desserts.

Two hours before: Hid assorted children's toys and random electronics laying about (sticky fingers + MacBook Air do not mix); laid out food and mixed up a batch of the evening's cocktail. (This is the professor's creation and just a rough estimate.)

Mix three parts sweet tea vodka (we like Firefly), three parts sweet tea (Milo's), one part limoncello & one part lemonade. Keep chilled in a pitcher with lemon slices. When ready to serve, pour half a glass of this and half a glass of lemon soda (we use San Pellegrino). 

Turns out this recipe is the key to the party. As soon as guests arrived and we offered drinks (wine, beer, or signature cocktail) everyone (except a few beer drinking guys) went for this. In fact, we could have made a batch of this and have been fine. 

Everyone seemed to have fun -- about 20 kids and 20 adults, as well as two pugs that managed to escape their holding place, much to the delight of the children. It was a great way to get to know some of our neighbors better, ask questions about what to expect in our new school, and just dish. Not bad for a modern day Betty Draper.

It was one of those nights that reminded me that entertaining doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes we make it so difficult, putting pressures on ourselves to have the perfect party. Even a few minutes before this event I was kicking myself for not making a play list and trying to figure how to get the perfect music to play via Spotify. (In a room where no one ended up standing, of course.)

Turns out a good party just needs a little special sweet tea and friends. Now that we have that down pat, who's going to be up for a report card shindig?

Related Links:

Summer Is: Turning Life's Lemons Into Sparking Sangria

Scenes From A Fifth Birthday, Etsy Style