Posts Tagged ‘entertaining’

Crappy Dinner Parties

September 21, 2016

The other day, I saw a post on one of my favorite websites, The Kitchn, entitled “Five Rules for Hosting a Crappy Dinner Party, and Seeing Your Friends More Often.” It definitely grabbed my attention. The author’s premise was that she had stopped hosting dinner parties because they had become too overwhelming with a fulltime job, and small children. She wore herself out and became someone she didn’t want to be, trying to make sure her home was clean, the food was perfect and the kids were on thier best behavior. Through a friend she learned about the concept of the impromtu “crappy dinner party”, where people just stopped by and the party happened organically.  This version allowed the house to be in a disarray, and the food to be simple. So simple in fact,that  it could be takeout. The kids could run around and the evening would be stress free. All you need are some really close friends who wouldn’t judge to be your guests. Because this became so carefree, the author began to host more and more “crappy ” parties, and got to spend more quality time with those she loved.


This got me thinking. Could I do it? I have gone so far as to host Sunday dinners that had a “come as you are” dress code. No shoes, no makeup, no problem. I do however tend to go all out on the food. Even when it is a simple menu, I still prepare everything with care, and rarely skip a homemade dessert. Lately, I have avoided having frequent dinner parties because I have been too busy, or so exhausted from cooking and baking all week that I would rather be antisocial than do another dish. That begged the question: Would my friends rather come over to a pile of old newspapers and dirty gym hair, than not see me at all?


I suddenly recalled a night many years ago when we had a power failure in New York City. Some friends came over and we lit candles in the fancy silver candelabras, opened our finest champagne, and made tuna fish sandwiches. It took the edge off of an unpleasant situation, and made for a fun, memorable experience. One that was completely judgement free under the circumstances.

Maybe it is time to throw caution to the wind, and relax my standards of entertaining enough to actually RELAX and enjoy the company. So, who wants to come to my crappy dinner party?

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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April 15, 2015



Spell Syllables
verb (used without object)RSVPed orRSVP’d, RSVPing or RSVP’ing.

to reply to an invitation:

Don’t forget to RSVP before Thursday.
nounplural RSVP’s.

a reply to an invitation:

He sent a lovely bouquet of flowers with hisRSVP.

(used on an invitation to indicate that the favor of a reply is requested).


This week, I hosted a dinner party for a group of parents from my daughter’s school. The school provided a guest list that had 31 guests on it, many of whom I did not know. I received 2o responses, and despite multiple resends of the invite and a group message, 11 people still did not respond.
In this case, the host had the option of providing the meal, or coordinating a pot luck. Since cooking is my passion, I opted to cater the event myself, with a beverage sign up sheet for wine and soft drinks. Five people signed up to contribute.
Many of the other hosts opted for potlucks, or ordered food. I am sure some of the parents thought that it was no big deal, hence their lack of response. Frankly, it isn’t a big deal to anyone other than the host of the party. Even serving hot dogs requires a head count.

I toyed with my options. Cook for the amount I knew were coming, or incur the time, leftovers and expense of covering for the extra 11 people, “just in case.” I tend to over do it when I entertain, so I knew that I would have plenty of food if a few extra dropped by, but 11 extra? I wasn’t so sure. I decided to do an antipasto table, with dips, cured meats, and roasted vegetables to start, and serve a casual buffet dinner when most of the guests arrived. That included salads, wild mushroom tarts and 7 pounds of shrimp cooked in a tomato and fennel sauce.

The doorbell started ringing promptly at 6:30. And then it stopped. Exactly 10 people came. Ten. If I had a proper headcount, I would have done things very differently. In fact, for 12 people (including ourselves,) I could have prepared a nice sit down dinner, instead of huge quantities of a vast variety of food, some of which looked like it was barely touched.

It was a pleasant evening, and I met some people who were new to the school community, and got to know a few who I only knew superficially. They were all warm, lovely guests, and I sent each one home with containers of food to enjoy at another time. I also threw away huge quantities of dishes that I felt had sat out too long to safely save, and packed up the rest. I am sure some of it will spoil before it will get eaten and end up in the garbage, due to the sheer quantity of it.

It was my pleasure to host these families, so I don’t want to appear bitter or regretful.  I am however, a little peeved that people cannot take 2 minutes to let their hosts know if they intend to come, and alert them if they have a change of plans. It’s the wastefulness that is nagging at me, not to mention the expense of preparing food for people who didn’t show up.

The solution? I don’t have one. I don’t believe in being an apathetic host and not going out of my way to provide a wonderful meal and a warm atmosphere to anyone that comes to our home. I don’t have any hints to get people to respond, as after 3 resends and a friendly reminder, I was coming perilously close to being a stalker.  I can however, use this forum to remind you dear readers, that being a good guest is as important as being a good host.

So, in case you were wondering, RSVP stands for “respondez vious sil vous plait”, which is French for “please respond.” Next time you get an invitation, please do.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Easy Menu for a Hot Evening

August 1, 2013

Last week, I had a lot of house guests, and not a lot of time. The temperatures were in the high 90’s and humid, making using the oven for a prolonged period of time unappealing.

When I get time crunched, I tend to  rely on our old standby “unrecipes”.

I created this easy menu, which was served as a buffet for 14 people.  All the food shopping and cooking was done the day of the event, except for the desserts, which were made the night before. I’d say it was a hit!


My battle with hors ‘doeurves is well documented, so I kept it super simple.

We started with an array of hummus, served with pita chips and baby carrots, and a big bowl of cold, steamed shrimp. All were purchased, and devoured.


For the main meal, we had balsamic marinated chicken, “tarted up” with lemon zest and parsley. We broiled salmon and served it with a low fat avocado cream on the side.


Rice with shallots, corn and mint, a watermelon and feta salad, and a cool celery salad with walnuts and parmesan were nice make-ahead side dishes that can be served at room temperature.


We finished the meal with cold desserts: a flour-less chocolate cake with white chocolate bourbon cream,( I owe you the recipe), fresh strawberries and a cheesecake.


Everyone seemed happy with the selection, and took home leftovers, a sure sign of a good meal!

photos: indigo jones

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