For those who do a lot of entertaining, it's hard to come up with new party themes. But the recent popularity of cigars offers a great creative party idea for stressed-out would-be party hosts.
Putting together a good party is hard - and gets harder as you grow older. In college, it's easy enough to satisfy your guests with, say, a bowlful of pretzels and a keg of beer, but friends burdened with adult responsibilities - a job to get up for, a child to raise - may not want to drive out to your place just for some stale salt-heavy snacks and a can or two of average quality beer. So you've got to come up with fun new ideas. But this gets stressful, complex, and sometimes expensive as well. After you've tried out your first two or three great inspirations, you may begin to burn out on entertaining all together.
But there's hope. Try throwing a cigar-sampler party.
Cigars aren't just your grandfather's chosen indulgence anymore - they've grown increasingly popular during the past fifteen years or so. After bottoming out during the 1980s, cigars became the break of choice for a well-educated, younger demographic, even as other forms of smoking went into decline. They're just luxurious enough to feel like the break you deserve, but, since they're designed to be smoked slowly, one at a time, and in moderation (unlike cigarettes), they won't break the bank. Their infinite differences in taste offer the pleasures of connoisseurship as well: experienced smokers learn to enjoy the differences between double claro cigars (light and generally dry-tasting, with very tan outer wrappers) and maduros (dark brown in color and sweetish), between the great cigars of Nicaragua and those of the Dominican Republic or Turkey. A cigar-themed party makes sense if your friends are smokers, and it also makes sense for those who aren't (as long as, you make sure not to invite anybody who's passionately anti-smoking or allergic to tobacco).
Here are some tips on throwing a cigar-themed party:
1) Buy a sampler or two of premium cigars, until you have enough to cover the number of planned guests. (Keep the guest list small - you'll have better-quality interactions, and you'll keep the party affordable.)
2) Cigar samplers are easy to buy online, but be careful. Some cigar stores "lead off" with a too-good-to-be-true deal - an inexpensive sampler labeled "premium." Usually these cheap "premium" platters actually contain only a few top cigars, and are then rounded out with cigar pawns - cheaply-made knockoff cigars. Make sure that your sampler comes from a high-quality cigar shop or online store, and that you know what you're getting.
3) Once you have your premium-cigar sampler, assign one cigar to each guest.
4) On the night of the party, serve simple snacks before you serve the cigars. (Cigars tend not to go well with ultra-creamy or rich foods.) Hard cheeses, dark chocolates, fruit, coffee, and fine red wines or beers are recommended. Remember - avoid anything too rich!
5) After folks have eaten and had a few drinks, bring out the cigars. Have everyone head outside with his or her assigned cigar and a drink; light everyone's cigar, and tell them to smoke up. You'll have given all your guests something new to talk about.
6) If desired, encourage your guests to bring their own cigars, which can be collected and served as part of a "second round" later. Guests could compare the tastes of their two assigned cigars. You could even encourage one of your guests to bring some non-premium cigars, even off-brand gas-station cigars, as a gaga - though only if you're going for a second round of smoking!
Experienced cigar smokers will enjoy the chance to share their enthusiasm with others. New smokers and nonsmokers will be trying and enjoying something new.
Remember when lighting to cut the cap of the cigar, then, using a wooden match or a zippo lighter or other full flame (not a paper match), turn the end of the cigar in the flame a full 360 degrees until every part of it is lit. Remind your guests who haven't smoked cigars before that they shouldn't inhale - this isn't a cigarette! Pull the smoke into your mouth and taste it thoroughly without allowing it into your lungs. Remember, it's about the taste.
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