Is it common knowledge that piñatas do not come with candy included? I cannot be the only one that did not know.
More on that later, but first a little context…
Last weekend we threw a little get together for thirty of our favorite musicians— also known as the church worship team. Ordinarily, I love throwing parties. I love putting together a menu and coordinating decorations and imagining alternative sources of whimsical lighting. This whole ordeal stresses me out in a fun, productive way. It’s a deep burn.
I especially love clever themes, particularly ones that make fake mustaches, glow sticks, and hula hoops acceptable party accessories. I’m constantly looking for places to wear my tiger costume, green high heels, and oversize hoop earrings— not necessarily in combination but absolutely in that order. Sometimes I plan parties just to give purpose to certain elements of my wardrobe.
In the weeks leading up to last weekend’s social gathering, I made grand plans. I was going to make all the food from scratch. I was going to find creative, deeply personal party favors for each guest. I was going to host with clean clothes, clean hair, and a contented child.
Exactly none of these expectations were met.
Three days before the party, I realized it was time to revisit my grand plans. Real life got in the way of party planning and it occurred to me that perhaps I was overreaching with the whole food-from-scratch thing. Friends kept suggesting the singular solution to all my problems: Costco.
One thing lead to another and on Saturday afternoon Mike, Molly and I found ourselves at Costco signing up for membership and taking open-mouth headshots while grown men fought over tiny halves of reheated bagel bites.
We spent great quantities of time cornered in aggressive traffic jams while pondering how quickly we could go through a box of thirty english muffins. The glamour of Costco was nearly lost on us until the moment Mike discovered a 6lb bag of protein powder while I discovered a 6lb wheel of pumpkin cheesecake.
I could not have planned a more perfect parallel if I tried.
After Costco rendered a solution to my initial cooking problem, I ran to the store on the day of the party to purchase some last minute items. It was supposed to be a quick shopping experience, but I was immediately sidelined by the homeless man who was bathing his entire body with the antibacterial wipes at the entrance and the woman pushing a shopping cart full of sleeping dogs through the dairy aisle. I forgot the whole reason I went to the store and instead circled the aisles following the dog lady from a safe, curious distance.
My shopping experience took another turn for the worse when I bought a bedazzled piñata that I later learned was, in fact, empty. Mike waved the sparkle box in the air and said, “Don’t you think it would weigh more if there was candy inside?” At that moment I remembered what I went to the store for: napkins.
Ready or not we prepared for guests to arrive that evening and fifteen minutes before show time, I realized that we did not have enough food. Somehow, against all odds, the portion and quantity of Costco entrees were actually too small.
It felt like betrayal.
The party began and I was able to offer guests two reheated lasagnas, a pasta dish, a bread/salad situation, an empty piñata, and a cheesecake wheel with nary a napkin in sight.
Mike saved the day by fetching four Little Caesars pizzas and two cases of beer. Against all odds, the party was a huge success.
I keep learning that hospitality is not about what I think it is, that the menus and decorations and lighting may not matter very much at all, that people don’t actually care if food is on paper or ceramic plates, if it was cooked entirely in a kitchen or partially at Costco. No one was coming to be impressed by me; they were coming to connect with each other.
Sometimes I need to host a defective party to remember the contents of a good one. I need to remember the shiny exterior of hospitality is only a vehicle for matters of the heart. It’s kind of like a piñata, I guess. The kind that actually has candy inside.
The morale of this story might hint at hospitality or connection, but the greater emphasis here is that we now have a Costco membership.
It literally changes everything.