There are certain rights of passage for EFMs, and one of them is hosting events, teas, and/or dinners with other EFMs and coworkers of your spouse. So when the email came a few months ago from CLO that they needed people to host the monthly EFM coffee, I signed up for the month of October. I had been prepared by my mother-in-law and the CLO office that up to twenty-something people could attend. I figured it would give me enough time to unpack, organize, and decorate the apartment, observe what other EFM coffees were like for reference, and to come up with some recipes to impress.
EFM coffees are an opportunity to meet and socialize with other Embassy spouses and to commiserate on everyday life and challenges of living abroad. You get advice, someone to talk to who understands what you are going through, and in general just have a good time.
The EFM coffees I had attended since June had an attendance of anywhere from four to twenty four people, so I did not know how many people to expect. My wonderful mother-in-law sent recipes, and I scoured the internet for fall brunch ideas, and settled on a menu. I also ordered fall decorations to make our apartment festive for the event, and for fall in general.
On the menu was:
Egg muffins with bacon and cheddar cheese
Egg muffins with broccoli and cheddar cheese
Pioneer Woman baked French toast
Pumpkin Bread French Toast (gluten free)
Apple Strudel Muffins
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Rice Krispie Treats
An assortment of beverages such as coffee, tea, juice, wine, sangria, and champagne
I must add that there was a bake sale going on the following day at the Embassy, so I made plenty for my husband to bring in the next day for coworkers and the bake sale.
The day before, I was given a headcount of RSVPs from CLO. Needless to say, I was relieved because there were fewer people than I had anticipated. A fun fact about me is that I have anxiety about people coming to my house. I hosted a bridal shower and a Halloween Party for a good amount of people before, but those events were stressful for me. The apartment needs to be perfectly clean, there needs to be enough food and drink, and I am usually worn out from cleaning and cooking for hours that I usually don’t relax enough to enjoy myself.
The days leading up to the event I prepped as much as possible. Two days prior I baked pumpkin muffins for the pumpkin bread pudding, made cookie dough, and my husband and I made a trip to Le Silpo for food and drinks for the event. The day before I prepped the overnight baked French toast and pumpkin bread pudding, the Rice Krispie treats, and sangria.
I woke up at 5AM the day of the event to get most of the baking done- cookies, brownies, and the apple muffins. I also put together the fruit salad. We recently hired a part time (5 hours a week) housekeeper, and she came in that morning to come to do last minute cleaning. I could not have have done it without her!! One hour prior to the event I put the overnight French toast and pumpkin bread pudding in the oven, started the coffee, put all the plates, silverware, glasses, etc. out, got ready, and put the egg muffins in the oven right as event was about to start.
Although I received great feedback on the food, it took a lot out of me. I don’t know how people host parties and make it seem so effortless- but I think I pulled it off!! I am lucky that I have been able to witness and help in the preparation of my in-laws hosting large family gatherings of about twenty four people for Christmas for about 8 years now, so I have learned a little along the way. It sure helped but maybe next time I’ll host a lunch instead to give myself more time to prepare!!