'Brothers & Sisters'
If the holidays taught you nothing else, it should have been that family is the most important thing -- to avoid. That was a joke. Sort of. Nevertheless, the fact remains that blood is thicker than water, and every Sunday ABC's Brothers & Sisters proves that is absolutely true, if only by the narrowest of margins. So if you have a brother or sister who has a fiance, ex-husband/wife, gay lover, old friend, business partner, political liability and/or child who seems to complicate things, call him or her -- we're throwing a party that'll make Mom and Dad proud!
Setting the scene:
Family gathering is the theme, so pull out the table leaves and reset the dining room for a traditional family meal: We're talking tablecloths, centerpieces, gravy boats, salad forks and linen napkins. Feel free to have place cards for members of the Walker clan if you've got the room. Print the Walker family tree and have it as part of each table setting. Blank family trees or, better yet, giving guests access to Ancestry.com is a great party favor to help guests figure out where crazy Aunt Millie came from. Other great party favors include DVDs of the series' first two seasons as well as DVDs representing the work of some of the family's more notable cast members (Sally Field in Mrs. Doubtfire, Calista Flockhart in Ally McBeal, Ron Rifkin in Alias). And whatever you do, don't bring up Robert's failed presidential bid or Justin's addiction problems.
This truly is a come-as-you-are party because if we encourage even one person to dress as Sally Field, someone will undoubtedly come as the Bandit and throw off the entire theme.
On the hi-fi:
Keeping with the theme, let's groove to the sounds of siblings such as Karen and Richard Carpenter, Donny and Marie Osmond, Michael and Janet Jackson, Natasha and Daniel Bedingfield, the Von Trapps, etc. You can also go to the show's Web site and check out its music guide.
If you want to move this gathering to the next level, shift locales: the Walkers' California roots and penchant for wine make a family trip to Napa Valley a perfect party rendezvous. Check out the Milliken Creek Inn & Spa, an idyllic spot that Travel & Leisure picked as a perfect hideaway.