Which reads 'Christmas Kai (party)', with the girls from Amy's class.
I don't know how she talked me into this... no, actually I do. She flattered me. Told me that when she told her friends about my fantastic parties they all started clamouring to go! So she wanted to show them one of my fabulous parties. Well, what's a hostess with the mostess supposed to do? I agreed, but the only clear date was the 22nd, right on the cusp of the silly season.
Never mind, I thought, it was not actually one of my parties, so the cooking would be toned down, and I would not be drinking, and most importantly would be not obliged to entertain, meaning I could use the down time after the meal was served to catch up on some work. I would also be in a better position to insist that Amy help me clean up!
Being all hung-ho about her party, Amy was 100% front and centre with the preparation - HER friends were coming over and she wanted it to be clean and tidy! I got home from work on Friday night and we finalized the menu and went shopping. She was a little tired and reluctant, but I pushed it, reminding her it was HER party and we would be too busy in the morning. Trips to 3 out of my usual 4 supermarket visits followed, and I tried to stick to the budget - 14 guests each bringing 500yen (I was certainly not going to finance the whole party!), minus some for drinks which the girls were going to buy, because Amy told them that I always forget to buy soft drinks (it's true, I do).
Saturday morning, we worked hard to get everything prepared. The kids started arriving before we finished, but that was fine. They counted money, divided jobs (sending some kids off to buy those drinks) and generally sorted themselves out. We weren't ready to start until after 2pm I think.
They were so cute... they had organized it just like a grown-ups event, with an official start, welcome and opening words, and kampai (toast - but in Japan it's done only once and signifies the start of food and drinks, you're not supposed to drink before that). They had a written schedule and had nominated this or that girl for each job. They even had crackers and a bingo game written into the schedule.