Pat and Gina Neely, the starring husband and wife team of “Down Home with the Neelys” on the Food Network, decided to focus on where their love of food started — entertaining guests at home. Known for celebrating life’s smallest holidays and accomplishments, the two have plenty of experience in making parties wonderful for both hosts and guests. In their latest cookbook, “The Neelys’ Celebration Cookbook,” they include party inspiration, holiday menus, and a ton of new recipes. Read the excerpt below as Pat Neely gives his survival tips for men for holiday stress. Or, check out their delicious BBQ Shrimp recipe that’s the perfect New Years Eve appetizer.
Pat’s Top Ten Party Tips for Guys
To me, throwing a party is kind of like getting ready for a trip. You’ve got to pack and prepare your house to go away, which may feel overwhelming, but once you get to the vacation site, it’s paradise. It’s been that way for years in our house. I don’t think Gina knows how to do a subtle celebration (in my opinion, just like my mom!), and she’s not indecisive— she knows what she wants. So, in light of my years of experience helping Gina, I’ve got some tips for the guys out there like me.
1. If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
2. Hands off the guest list. In our household, I have input on about 10 percent of the list! (And that’s fine with me. Gina rules the party anyway, and always invites people I enjoy.)
3. Be prepared to do all of the “Honey Do”s. (“Honey, do this. . . . Honey, get the box out of the car. . . . Honey, get the grocery list. . . .”)
4. Inform all your golf buddies to give you a rain check. Forget it, no golf.
5. Put your weightlifting belt on. There’s going to be some heavy lifting.
6. The best reply: “Yes, dear” (and with a smile!). Guys, it’s much easier to say yes than no,” and what follows when you say yes is so much better.
7. Restock your bar, because you may need a drink before the guests arrive.
8. Designate a personal corner. Every time we have a big family gathering, I find myself a peaceful corner after the party is really going, so I can just observe, and sometimes— most of the time— it is a true joy to admire the loved ones around me. Seize that moment. (I also do a head count, so I can tell Gina how many folks she really invited, or how many showed up. Two Thanksgivings ago, I counted fifty- seven people: I’ve got five siblings, Gina has four, there were mothers, cousins, nieces, and nephews, and then the third of the group that was unrelated but whom we still call family. I have toyed with the idea of installing a turnstile just so I don’t have to keep counting.)
9. Try to avoid segregating the women and the men. Gina hates it when the guys are watching a game upstairs, so she’ll come up and remind them to get downstairs and mingle (Super Bowl and March Madness being the exceptions to this rule).
10. Start to clean up before the party is over. If you start picking up and taking the trash out, you’ll usually find that two or three people will pitch in, and then the others will feel guilty and ask how they can help.
Excerpted from The Neelys’ Celebration Cookbook by Pat and Gina Neely. Copyright © 2011 by Pat and Gina Neely. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.