"I Melted a Chocolate Fountain" + Other Relatable Hosting Stories

Real hosts share the details that make (and sometimes break) their parties. 

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My husband and I were having cocktails at a local bar last fall when tendrils of glamorous smoke began to creep across the floor to the DJ's turntable. (Fog machines: Not just for glam rock shows and haunted houses!) We decided our celebrations needed that kind of atmosphere, and I hopped on my phone and purchased a tiny unit of our own right then and there. It’s been the centerpiece of every gathering we’ve had since — holidays, birthdays, political-debate-watching — and it’s always a hit. (It probably helps that our friends are fond of glam rock and haunted houses, too.)

For this season's inspiration — and, you know, cautionary tales — I asked friends to share the highs (and lows) of their gatherings.

The Punch Bowl

Original_Laurie-March_Scandinavian-Christmas-punch-bowl_h

Original_Laurie-March_Scandinavian-Christmas-punch-bowl_h

My friend, Hilary, treasures a vintage silver punch bowl she inherited from her grandmother; "I didn’t buy it, but it does make my famous not-for-kids punch a little classier." If your nana’s not interested in sharing, I would note that eBay's a fine place to find barware to set off one's signature drink.

The Chafer

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521974331

Buffet at a banquet featuring indian food.

Photo by: Reptile8488/iStock

Reptile8488/iStock

At the sportier end of the spectrum, my friend, Sarah, was inspired to acquire a stainless-steel chafer as baseball season kicked off one spring: "We wanted to be able to house hot dogs, nacho cheese and chicken fingers in its three warming compartments to simulate authentic ballpark food."

The Chocolate Fountain

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495437794

Vibrant Picture of Chocolate Fountain Fontain on childen kids birthday party with a kids playing around and marshmallows and fruits dip dipping into fountain

Photo by: Tsuguliev/iStock

Tsuguliev/iStock

I am informed that following instructions is no guarantee of a happy ending when it comes to chocolate fountains, which friends mentioned as both the finest and lousiest party gadgets they'd ever had. "A champagne brunch at a local restaurant had [a chocolate fountain], and after the experience I decided our household would be blessed by its presence," says Gabe. "Alas, despite the claims on the box, the parts were not dishwasher safe. They melted during a fateful load of dishes. I miss it so!"

My friend, Kim, experienced a similar triumph and defeat. "We bought one for my brother's graduation from college. I think it required 10 pounds of a specific kind of chocolate, and it was awesome! But it was death if you let it cool down at all before cleaning it."

Her chocolate fountain did a number on her kitchen, as well: "We actually boiled a pot of water to re-melt the chocolate off the sink and drain. We used it once more for my sister's wedding, then handed it off to a cousin for a high-school graduation party. No one thought it was worth the cleanup after that."

The Raclette Grill

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530011369

raclette trays

Photo by: margouillatphotos/iStock

margouillatphotos/iStock

My sister, Joanna, delights her guests in Los Angeles with a raclette grill, a contraption the rest of the family mocked her for adding to her wedding registry. "We've used it for traditional raclette — you melt the cut side of a big wheel of cheese and scrape it off onto bread — but also for brunch a few times. People love DIY melted cheese and tiny omelettes. Who knew?"

Best of luck with your next gathering, all. May your relatives be generous, your proportions appropriate and your specialty products truly special.

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