Aug 10, 2009

Host It: Closet Swap

So maybe you’ve heard the economy is in the dumps? Lots of folks have lost their jobs and their savings… I’m sure you’ve seen something about it on the news, right?

Well, even for those of us who haven’t lost our jobs it’s a scary time, and if you’re like me, you’re really re-thinking your spending habits these days. Shopping, eating out, and hosting parties were pretty regular parts of my routine that have all slowed down to a trickle now that I’m watching my pennies. And with September just around the corner and every fashion magazine crammed with fabulous fall fashion, it’s hard to resist the call to shop…

So why not scratch the shopping itch by hosting a Closet Swap with as many pals as you can find and shop from other people’s closets??

Here’s how it works:
Clean out your closet and gather all the clothes that are still in good condition but just don’t work for you anymore – this includes anything you haven’t worn in a year, anything that doesn’t fit or anything that was for a special occasion and you won’t/can’t wear it again (somebody’s old bridesmaid dress could be somebody else’s hidden treasure!). Anything that’s stained or torn or otherwise needs mending isn’t eligible for the party – fix it and wear it, donate it, or throw it away.

Tell your pals to do the same thing, have everybody over, and set up a rack for hanging clothes. Clear off a bookcase for folded items and put everything out neatly, like it’s a little boutique. Put on some high-energy music, put out some snacks and cocktails and let everybody get down to the business of shopping!

My girlfriends & I have a rule when we’re in the dressing room: if it zips up, you have to show it. Put this into effect at the party and help each other put together outfits and try new styles. You might discover a new way to wear what you already have and everyone will go home with some new (to them) stuff. When it’s all over, bag everything up, give your pals one of those lovely Salvation Army tax forms and drop everything off at your local donation center.

What to serve:
Sangria (More drinks for your wine buck)
Have everyone bring a bottle of wine

Flavored popcorn - pop your own and toss it with any combination of spices. I especially like the version below:

Rosemary Popcorn:
Makes 16 cups (two big bowls)

Though it can be hard to find an old-fashioned hot air popper in this era of microwaveable popcorn, it is absolutely worth tracking one down. It’s every bit as fast as the microwave variety, has significantly less salt and fat, and it just tastes better. You’ll find yourself using it all the time – movie nights, sports events and as an unusual (and super popular) appetizer.

You can absolutely substitute the microwave version if you want, just look for low salt and/or no butter varieties.

An oil mister works great here – it gives you a fine, even spray of oil.

What you need:
1/2 cup olive oil
6-8 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
salt & fresh cracked black pepper

How to make it:
STEP 1: Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add rosemary sprigs to pot & stir to coat. Let rosemary cook in oil gently for 8-10 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool. Remove rosemary sprigs from oil and strip leaves off the stems. Make a small pile of crispy rosemary leaves, the parmesan, salt & pepper on a cutting board and run a knife through it until everything is finely chopped and mixed.

STEP 2: When you’re ready to serve, make the popcorn according to the hot air popper’s instructions. As the popcorn comes out, spray with the rosemary oil & sprinkle with spice/cheese mixture. The hot popcorn will melt the cheese and help the seasoning stick to the kernels. Serve immediately.

Other flavor combinations (Skip Step 1 & proceed to Step 2 if not using fresh herbs):
Indian curry powder or garam masala with chopped candied ginger
Southwest chipotle powder & cumin
Mexican chili & lime seasoning
Chinese five spice powder and crunchy fried noodles

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