Anatomy of a dinner party

A successful dinner party. It’s all about the attitude.

 

These days, it feels like we spend a lot of time wringing our hands and despairing. What can I do to make a difference?

 I can make cabbage into a heart shape. Are you smiling yet?

I can make cabbage into a heart shape. Are you smiling yet?

 

Bring people together for a dinner party. Here’s how.

 

1) It’s decision time.

Yes, or no? There are so many reasons to say no.

·      It’s the end of the week, at the end of the year.

·      Thursday is nuts, and so is Friday.

·      My house isn’t clean.

·      We’ve got a visiting dog, plus ours.

·      It’s getting too hot to have the oven on for 3 hours while I make pizza.

 

There are also so many reasons to say yes.

·      Gathering people together, some of whom have never met each other, is a joy.

·      Laughter is always welcome.

·      It’s the end of the week, at the end of the year.

·      Thursday is nuts, and so is Friday.

·      We’ve got a visiting dog, plus ours.

·      Good food is delicious.

 

The yes column wins.
For me, the yes column generally always wins.

 

2) Decide on the menu. Here, the menu is normally pizza. It’s a combination dinner party/raucously perfectly imperfect informal cocktail party/potluck.

·      What’s your favorite food to make? Center the party around what you love and that immediately dials down the stress level.

 Homemade pizza is my jam.

Homemade pizza is my jam.

 

3) Send out invitations. Currently, the rate of RSVPs when I send out an Evite is better than the rate of RSVPs when I send an email. Bonus? I can see who’s seen the invitation. Sneaky? Likely. Helpful? Definitely.

·      Don’t forget to include the time, the address, and what you’re inviting people to.

 Evite invitation. It's a little strident for me. Thoughts?

Evite invitation. It's a little strident for me. Thoughts?

 

4) Shop and prep. Might be prep and shop and prep some more, depending. I take into account numbers, of course, plus whatever is being brought by the guests. Timing for pizza (to make the dough and give it time to rise) has to include things like what my midday schedule is, any special requests for that schedule from my family, how many people are coming, and what leftovers I have stashed in the freezer.

 Shopping. I am challenged at buying ONLY what is on my list.

Shopping. I am challenged at buying ONLY what is on my list.

 

5) Cook. Greet guests. Laugh and cook and share and laugh some more. Bask in the pockets of conversation that are happening, all as a result of that YES back in step 1. Eat.

·      Talk and laugh and share and snap photos, if you can. Take mental pictures of the people, to tuck away and pull out when the days seem dreary and unfulfilled.

 Eating and talking and laughing and listening. All ages welcome!

Eating and talking and laughing and listening. All ages welcome!

 

6) Say goodbye, clean up, and debrief.

·      It’s a 2-dishwasher load night.

·      It’s a 2-garbage bag night.

·      It’s a no-leftovers night. Well, no pizza leftovers. There seem to always be topping leftovers. They make a great frittata or pasta sauce.

·      Next time, put out the silver right off the bat. Marge would approve.

·      “That was a really awesome pizza night, Mom. Thanks.”

 

Things I have learned:

·      Nobody sees the mess in the house if I don’t mention it.

·      For me, having the counters cleared is the important thing.

·      Using real plates and glasses makes me happy. It might not make you happy. Do what makes you happy.

·      Music helps set the mood. Loud enough to hear before the buzz of conversation drowns it out, but not so loud that it makes conversation impossible.

·      People really like to help. I like to let them.

·      It’s worth saying yes.

 

When’s your next dinner party?

#bringpeopletogether