For the last 10 years, we have had a Cinqo de Mayo party.  What started out as drinks with friends on a sunny Saturday afternoon has grown into a fest.   A family friendly one at that.  We just refer to it as The Party.
A pitcher of watermelon margaritas became 5 gallon containers of them mixed in a cooler, served in my granny’s punchbowl.

We just kept inviting everyone we know.  It started out word of mouth and at some point, became actual issued invitations.  People who ‘made the list’ always told us how excited they were to finally be invited.  Apparently it was quite the bash.  I’m a little modest about it, since you know, I’m the hostess and you always think your parties are legendary and fabulous.  But people were always surprised at who all was here.  Worlds collided in our front yard on a Saturday in May.    We invited all the neighbors around us who might be disturbed by the loudness of the party.  We invited all the neighbors from a block up who would walk by and chat us up about the garden, about school, about whatever.  Anyone that might walk by and be offended we were having a party and didn’t invite them.  We invited our friends and coworkers.  Edie invited her school friends, first her preschool friends, then her elementary school friends.  Every year the party got just a little bit bigger.  Once you showed up and made the list, you were on it.  We did a purge a few years ago, but added just as many on as we had taken off, plus some.   We’ve been told our party is the one of the most eclectic mixes in town.
And the crashers. There were always crashers.  Some of whom are now dear friends were crashers the first time they came, invited by mutual friends.  It’s the kind of party you bring a carload along.
I don’t remember how old Edie was when she asked when our ‘disco’ party was going to be held this year. 
 What disco party?
You know the one you guys always throw. 
We do not throw disco parties.  We are not disco party people.
Uh-huh, your disco de mayo party.
That was when the party started having a disco theme.  Then, one year, a certain someone suggested a pinata might be fun for the kids.  So we did that.  After all, what’s more fun that adults standing around drinking tequila while watching children bash a pinata and battle it out for sugar? 

Last year our friend Eddie made this glorious disco ball pinata.  I think there are still shiny bits of it’s outer layer in my front yard. The last two years running, a very sweet now 6 year old girl has taken the pinata out.  She has two older brothers and is fierce.  I don’t think it hurt that last year, the stick given to the children to bash the pinata was actually a stake from my garden that had a pointed end.  She just stabbed that sucker. Clearly, there was drinking involved and no one was paying close attention to the stick we had just handed over to 50 kids to hit a pinata with.  Tequila + pinata= fun.

The Party was always held on a Saturday, since you know, we’re responsible grown ups who can only throw huge parties on weekends.  But the theme was always Cinqo de Mayo, no matter the calendar date.  Without fail a few folkswould be confused by invitation and would call or show up on the 5th, but hey, that was just part of the fun.  The party officially started in the afternoon, with the pinata being the high point a few hours in (generally right before or right after the Kentucky Derby, which also happened to also run the same Saturday we’d have the party).  After the pinata, there was a shift in the party, with families clearing out, more kidless folks showing up.  As it got dark, the party would wind down to just those who could stumble home, a bonfire would be built in the urban bonfire, there would be smores for the kiddos and some years, the party would linger until the wee hours of the morning.  One year our last guest arrived at 11 pm. 
It was a party that took months of yard work to prep for.  The week of, we’d start putting tents up on Thursday.  A friend lent us his huge tent with big metal poles that had to be picked up in the pick up truck it was so big, that was 10′ x 20′ or something insanely huge like that, that was dubbed ‘the funeral tent’ because it was so big and indeed, looked like a tent you see over a grave site.  There would be several dining tents set up throughout the yard in addition to this.  For shade or in case of rain, whatever the weather demanded.
The day of the party was a marathon.  From the time we got up, there was a long to-do list.  A grocery store run was needed for ice.  We’d run around the neighborhood and borrow most of the picnic tables in a three block radius.  The lawn needed to be mowed, the last of the tents needed to go up, prepwork for making 15 gallons of margaritas and 10 gallons of lemonade needed to happen.  Did I mention the party would go on until the wee hours of the morning?
We served watermelon margaritas for the grown-ups, lemonade for the kids.  I learned to label the punchbowls because teenage boys will try to sneak the loaded punch.  We asked our guests to ‘Please bring something to nibble on and anything else you’d like to drink’.  We usually ended up with a case of beer left in the coolers, some years more.  We had some phenomenal food, although everyone was always surprised to find out who brought the Velveeta sausage dip. People would show up with bbq, with chips and dip, with enchiladas, with brownies, with goat cheese they made from their goat’s milk.  Last year someone showed up with sangria and I had to break out a third punchbowl.
Yes, I have three punchbowls.  I keep them on hand for occasions such as this.
We’re not having the party this year.  Pat left for a Waterkeepers Alliance Conference in Portland this morning.  It feels weird to not be having the party this year, but it’s a relief in some ways.  I realized the other day it was May 1 and I’d yet to get my front porch plants out and lined up, I hadn’t planted my hanging baskets, all things that had to be done by the party every year.  Without the party deadline hanging over my head, I have spent the last month digging up the back yard and neglecting other parts that normally are planted and weeded by this time of year.  There were no house projects, no major house cleaning that I felt needed to be done on a deadline of a Saturday in May.  Truth be told, the last few years the party has gotten to be more than alot of work. It’s not just the marathon day, the hardest part is hosting it.  Last year there were people here neither one of us were able to greet.  Making margaritas and lemonade from scratch, by hand in 5 gallon batches is helpful, but when you go through one of those guys in a hour, you’re back there in the kitchen making another one.  (Thankfully, I learned to do all the prep ahead of time, so all I have to do is mix them up.).  The party needs to change somehow, but we’re not sure how.  Do we hire staff to help out? Do we cut the guest list?  How do we cut the guest list?  So we are sitting this year out, using Pat being out of town as an excuse really, to see how life goes on without The Party.   Today is the Thursday before the party, and I should be getting ready to watch a tent go up in my front yard for Saturday.  There were watermelons at the grocery store that I didn’t buy to start juicing for Saturday.  I may even be low on tequila in the liquor cabinet.
This is not the end of The Party.  We’re talking about holding it next year.  Maybe make it an semi-annual event, to give us time in between to recover.  I joke that we host 300 of our closest friends, but really, our third of an acre is wall to wall people at the height of the party – it really is several hundred people. We’ve been telling people since New Year’s Eve we’re not having it this year.  It hasn’t always gone over well.  I’m curious to see if people actually show up as threatened on Saturday.    We’ll see, won’t we?

5 thoughts on “Weird.

  1. Patience_Crabstick says:

    It would be funny if people showed up anyway. Probably not so funny for you though. It sounds like a great party, but maybe taking the year off will leave you feeling refreshed for next year.

  2. meanderingthemaze says:

    Sounds like a fabulous party . . . and a lot of work. I agree with Patience that taking the year off will be a good thing and you'll be excited about it next year. The year off also gives you time to figure out how you want to change it. Have a great, relaxing weekend!

  3. Lesa says:

    We have been hosting white elephant parties since the early '90's and it does get exhausting. Lots of fun but, as you said, a huge amount of work. We had a party last spring and another was planned for the fall, at the request of guests from the UK, when I had an actual fall and the party was canceled. This year we held a party in Feb and another, a costume party, is again planned for the fall. Our guest count has never been as high as yours, not even close. I am all admiration!

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