|Stephanie's cupcakes and cakepops... yum.|
I was thinking this week about celebrations and holidays (for obvious reasons) and how the pantry lifestyle relates to them. In some ways they fit under the category of "Hospitality Pantry" but a little more special.
I especially enjoyed having items put back to make the ordinary a little more special when both kids were younger. I still like stocking the pantry with pretty paper products (plates, napkins, cupcake liners, cups, etc.). I mostly purchase them at Tuesday Morning or at stores on "after holiday" sales.
While I do have a good supply of "nice" dishes, there's something about pretty paper products that make it easier for last minute celebrations. I always make certain there are birthday candles and sprinkles, sparkles, etc.
When I'm really organized, I have a couple cakes in the freezer as well as cupcakes. All needing only a last minute buttercream frosting whipped up... and yes, one could use the "canned" icing. I'd rather have it on hand and actually doing something than try to be perfect and only thinking of doing something special. Been there...
When both children were home, last minute picnics were something we enjoyed. I've mentioned before that I kept my vintage picnic basket (which now holds magazines) always filled with everything we'd need for a picnic except the food.
When the weather was perfect or we needed to "get away from it all", I'd either make something at home or stop by the grocery for good bread, cheese, fruit, juice or water, etc. We'd then head for the Lake (when we lived in Western Michigan) or one of our favorite parks in whatever town we lived at the time.
I still get a little misty eyed when I drive past one of two parks close to here that were favorite picnic destinations. It seems our family was always busy and I know the "last minute outings" were accomplished only by having everything ready to go.
When I had teenagers at home, I usually had the makings for our favorite dips (including hamburger dip), chips, salsa, etc. always in the pantry. Although Stephanie's girlfriends would sometimes drop by, her friends usually came together as a group. Christopher's LAN parties always needed food and plenty of Mountain Dew as they planned to stay up all night playing computer games.
One good thing about having food and paper items in the pantry for celebrations is this... should there be a job loss or money needs to be spent elsewhere... you have available what is needed to celebrate that birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion. I even kept a drawer of small gifts that could easily be wrapped or placed in a gift bag, especially for kid's birthdays.
As with anything pantry related, one can really deepen their pantry by having extra hams, turkeys, etc. in the freezer (unless one is a vegan, of course). At one time, I always had a large Stouffer's lasagna in the freezer in case we had company stop by for dinner. I know, I could have prepared one from scratch and frozen it but that was when I was homeschooling an ADHD boy!
My friend and former neighbor, Sheila, raised four boys (while working part-time as a nurse) by shopping once a month at Sam's Club and stocking her freezer with items the boys could pop in the oven. Christopher loved going there for snacks. :)
Like the Hospitality Pantry, we can easily prepare a celebration with items like coffee, tea, juice, soft drinks (saved only for parties), really good store bought cookies, nuts, candies, etc. in the pantry. Being one who can experience fatigue "out of the blue", I feel ready to celebrate when I have lunch or dinner items, quick breads, cakes, pies, etc. frozen and ready to go.
To make it a real celebration, keep the ingredients for punch on hand and serve it in a punch bowl (there are almost always punch bowls at Goodwill it seems!). One doesn't have to use the little cups that come with it for children (or men!), just by serving the punch from a bowl and pouring it into Dixie cups makes it very special. I prefer punch recipes that are lemon lime based as they don't stain carpets and make for a cranky hostess. ;)
Recipe books and magazines offer so many ideas for celebration foods that can be assembled by pantry items. One good thing about blogs, websites, and even Pinterest is they can inspire us to be more creative. For instance, I just saw on a Facebook post where a young mom purchases Peeps at Easter to use to make S'mores in the summer instead of regular marshmallows. What is good becomes fun!
It doesn't cost much money to keep items on hand just for a celebration. I had one roll of crepe paper streamers that said HAPPY BIRTHDAY on it that lasted for YEARS. I would cut four or five feet and tape it on a wall where everyone could see it and sometimes on a porch.
I know I'm kinda' all over the place here, trying to think and type while propped up by pillows. But I hoped I have sparked your own pantry ideas to stock up and... celebrate!