Growing up, did you ever envision yourself as the host or hostess of amazing dinner parties? People would come over dressed in cocktail dresses and suits, sharp looking shiny shoes, and carrying bottles of champagne. You would serve sophisticated hors d’oeuvres that nobody knew the name of and rack of lamb for dinner. Some small chocolate concoction would be for dessert, and you would all retire to the study for brandy afterward. No? Just me?
As an adult, this fantasy quickly becomes, “Babe, run to HEB and grab a bag of Cesar salad because people are coming, and the leftover mac and cheese from Thursday isn’t gonna cut it!” Y’all, life is too short and too hectic for fancy dinner parties, at least at my house. The most important part of having a gathering of friends is getting to spend time with the friends themselves. Follow these tips for a stress free and quality packed evening with the best people you know.
Worried that you haven’t had time to clean the house? This is what Clorox wipes were invented for. They have been sitting under your sink waiting for this opportunity. Bust them out and wipe down heavily-used surfaces like counters, tables, the kitchen island everyone gathers around, and take a quick pass at the bathroom counter, too. They smell fresh, kill germs, and it will smell and look like you spent hours cleaning.
Food = Life
Forego the 5 course meal here, and let’s keep it simple. People save up calories for nights out, so let’s give them what they came for. Set up a DIY taco bar with all the fixin’s: shells/tortillas, ground beef (literally the only thing you have to cook here), lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. Grab a gallon of beans from Bill Miller’s on the way home from work and you are good to go! Feeling something a little more like grandma makes? Throw a chuck roast in the crock pot with a cut up onion and a Dr. Pepper on low for 8 hours. Get a couple of those HEB bagged Cesars (still the best Cesar salad in town). Cut up some red potatoes, drizzle olive oil on top, sprinkle garlic salt, and put them in the oven on 400 degrees for 30 minutes. When they are done, sprinkle a little parmesan on top. You have a gourmet meal, very little dishes to do, and it tastes heavenly.
You have no time to be stocking the bar for this gathering, and everybody (read: me) is stuck in their ways when it comes to the beverage that makes them the most comfortable and happy. BYOB is the easiest, cheapest, and most crowd-friendly way to go. Don’t hesitate to tell your friends that drinks are on them.
If your gathering is family friendly, anticipate the need for some kid-themed activity so mommy and daddy can talk to real live adults. If you have the goods in your home, then gather some group-friendly games and materials like play-dough, legos, and slime, or make it a movie-night and plop them down with popcorn, candy, and Shrek in their own little version of a home theater for the evening.
Let’s be smart here. If you have a basketball game at 8am the next day, do not schedule your dinner for the night before. If you have a huge project due for work or school that you know will be taking up space in your mind and you won’t be able to relax, postpone this fiesta until you can take advantage of it. The goal is for you to spend time with friends and family that you actually like. Make sure you can give them your full attention. That being said, there are often seasons where there just isn’t a perfect time and you’ve got to make the time. Our people are what keep us going, and we have to feed each other’s souls with positivity and kinship. Put it on the calendar.
Cheers to the perfect-imperfect dinner party! Let me know what time I should be there!