on dinner parties & best friends visiting you.
My version of the afterlife is one big dinner party, and EVERYONE you ever wanted to host is there. Your family, your friends, family you never met, people you were intrigued by on the subway one day. Famous people, writers, actors, David Bowie, you name it- anyone you want is there. And you're hosting and you're doing it flawlessly, everything tastes delicious, there is no wine headache the following day & somehow you eat your weight in cheese and your jeans are comfy all through dinner.
So I intend to be on this planet 75+ more years which means I am a bit obsessed with honing my dinner party skills. Because until I can sit at a perfectly set table with the greats, I can do it in my own house with people I love.
This weekend four of our closest friends came up to the farm. Let me just pause for a moment and scream from the rooftops how important it is that you spend time with people who 'get you.' And who love you no matter how weird you are, or how crazy your plans are. People who will sit with you for hours on end and drink coffee in your pjs and people who tell you they are inspired by you and people who love you even though you've pissed them off and people who just plain get you.
When everyone was up this weekend, we toured around the area, and settled in on Saturday for a dinner. I kept the menu simple; roast, mac n' cheese (grandmas recipe) and a kale/cabbage salad. One of my goals each new year is to entertain more. I like to think that Matt and I entertain more than the average couple but its something we really do love. And so, I've made the goal to share more of how we entertain and more importantly why we entertain.
The reason I love to entertain is simple. I am a firm believer that the best moment's in your life involve one or all of these factors: good people, good food, a laid-back atmosphere, conversation and wine. SO when you put all of those together, its a dinner party.
Looking to get started? Look no further. I've compiled my 10 Things That Make a Great Dinner Party list below, you may be surprised to see that its not that involved or difficult.... enjoy.
-Great People: Shared meals around a table are made by the people you invite to join you. You don't need 15 people in tuxedos around the table to make it special, invite a couple you barely know, or a group that you've been wanting to get together, it doesn't matter if its 4 or 40 people make the event.
-A stress free menu: alright, there is NOTHING worse than a stressed hostess. If you're freaking out about the temperature of the gravy, or the fact that the salad dressing is a bit too tart, or you've spent 12 hours basting some god awful dish you are not going to enjoy yourself. I try and do as MUCH PREP AHEAD OF TIME as possible. This weekend I had the roast, salad and mac n cheese all done except for cooked, tossed & heated up the night before. Another fun party: pizza night. Order in the food and just toss it on the table!
-Flowers: You don't need to be a florist to make the table feel special. Do i tend to go a bit overboard? yes. Trust me though, head to the grocery store (or garden in the summer) grab a couple bouquets and just play with them. Mix and match vessels. This is a fun step that I do at least 2 days before hosting, remember that anything living needs the end snipped off and fresh water. Notice in our photos above all three of my vases are different? Not a soul noticed. Don't worry about keeping the flowers on the table the entire meal, just pick up your arrangement and scoot it over to the bar.
-A table that has been 'set': one of the best moments of any party is when you first arrive and checking out the space. I set the table days before our company arrives and then its done and I don't stress about it. When people arrive and see the table set they already feel special. Don't run out and buy all new dishes and utensils, what you've got in the cupboard is perfect. See those napkin rings? I'm pretty positive my mom acquired them in 1984. It's the thought that counts is so true my friends.
-Lighting: You don't want to feel like you're eating dinner at the mall foodcourt, but you also need to be able to see the food on your plate. Remember that a few candles go a long way in helping the lighting feel more special.
-Music: checkout the 'weekend chill' playlist on Spotify or crank up your favorite Motown mix. Its not a party until theres music.
-No plan for 'after' my absolute favorite part of any dinner party is when its over and you sit at the table for hours. I refuse to hop up and start clearing plates or doing dishes. This is not what hosting is about. I'm very lucky that Matt knows that when the meal is winding down its a great time for him to spring up and clear the clutter a bit. Sit with your guests a bit longer & chat. No sight makes me happier than a table with lots of empty wine glasses, napkins crumpled up and people sitting back in their chairs and relaxing. This weekend we ate dinner at 7pm and I didn't get out of my seat to go to bed until 2:30 am. (#whenyourbestfriendsvisit)
-Clean tupperware: When you do clean up (or your husband cleans while you cry about college memories and mistakes with your friends in the dining room) **thanks matt** just have the tupperware organized and ready. There WILL be leftovers. Having the vessels to store the food and get back to the party makes it much more enjoyable for the person cleaning. Is there anything worse than searching for matching tupperware? Ew.
-Slippers: No matter what I'm hosting, Thanksgiving, Christmas, family, friends, new friends, clients, I'm wearing slippers. You know why? Because they are comfortable and casual and I like them. Same goes for what you've got on. If your idea of being comfortable at the table is an A line skirt and string of pearls, have at it. But my jeans and slippers will do just fine.
-A "you kill it you fill it" policy: my favorite places to visit are the homes of family and friends where I feel like I'm at home. No one enjoys a host who keeps hopping up to refill glasses after one sip and fretting over small things. I'm vocal about the 'you kill it you fill it' policy. If you're the one to empty the wine bottle, just head over to the bar, open another one and come back to the table. Same goes for just about everything. Relaxed entertaining is the best kind.