Several months ago I read an article in Gourmet Live called “Whatever Happened to the Dinner Party?” It’s a great article, you should read it especially if you, like me, grew up with your parents (and grandparents for that matter) constantly hosting or attending dinner parties, supper clubs, card nights, etc. I loved growing up around that. To be quite honest, I think it takes a special person to really “entertain” and to do it well. My mom is an entertaining master. She could write a book about it! There is a LOT that goes in to entertaining a group of people and most become very overwhelmed by the entire ordeal.
Now thinking back on all of the company my parents hosted and fed over the years, there are a couple of key things I have taken away from those memories that I am constantly trying to adapt into my home when we have guests over:
– Have an appetizer. Dinner does not have to be ready when your guests walk in the door. While some might disagree with me, I think having some cheese, wine, grapes, a dip, etc. for the first little while gets everyone’s appetite ready for your meal and allows your guests time to get comfortable in your home.
– Discuss your menu with your guests before they arrive. There is nothing more uncomfortable than trying to fake liking a meal. If your guests don’t eat chicken and you make chicken…well then you pooped in the soup! Remember you’re cooking for them, not for you! You can eat your chicken later!
– Serve your dinner family style. This is just fun because you don’t have to keep getting up for seconds (and maybe thirds). Just have the food on the table. Most people grew up having meals that way so it is subconsciously comforting.
– Let the dishes sit in the sink. You can clean them later. Enjoy your time with family and friends while you have it. You can clean up after they’ve gone home. No one likes a hostess that spends her time fretting over a mess. Embrace it. (this coming from one of the most tidy people you’ll ever meet. If I can do it, so can you)
– Enjoy yourself (YOU, the hostess). Your guests are going to feed off of your mood. Put away the stress of your day, the stress of the meal preparation, last minute cleaning (or throwing dirty clothes in the basement), throwing everything in the basement…you get where I am going. If you are comfortable and relaxed, they will be too.
I mentioned a few posts ago that I would be hosting our first Junior League Supper Club at our house. There is a great group of girls that I have met through my Provisionals class with the JL of Portland and we decided to do a monthly supper club. I offered to host the first and I was SO excited about it. Not only do I love having people over, but this group of girls is great. Most of them are tied to the South somehow…either they went to college there, have family there, moved from there, etc. so we all have that in common! For our first “theme” we chose “Blue Plate Special” (since we’re all from the South) and decided to have a bunch of good, home-cooked Southern food.
I like the way we decided to coordinate. Each girl brought 1 item which made it incredibly easy on me as the hostess (except for the fact that I ran out of time after work and didn’t have time to dry my hair so it is all curly and crazy!) All I had to do was make 1 item myself and make sure the house was clean! Check and check! I did run out that afternoon in search of folding chairs. Several times since we have moved in we have needed more seating and all we have are 6 dining room chairs. I was thinking we were going to have a few more girls so I grabbed some metal folding chairs at Target for $10.00. But it actually worked out perfectly. We did miss our girls who weren’t able to make it, but I had 1 chair for every hiney!
Our “Blue Plate Special” menu? Fried chicken (that was me), brussel sprouts, mac and cheese, black eyed peas, cornbread, and a salad. With TWO kinds of dessert. These ladies can COOK. It was all SO good. And since I kicked William out of the house for the evening, I made him a plate to eat when he got home. He agreed, it was all very very tasty!
Our November supper club is right around the corner! One of the girls offered to gather all of our recipes together after each dinner and put together a little cookbook for all of us which I thought was SO sweet and such a great idea! All I can really contribute is being the unofficial photographer so I think I will nominate myself for that. We can have pictures in the book or something. Might give it a nice twist!
I am so thankful to have met these girls and to be in my first Supper Club! It makes me feel oh so grown up. As strange as it may sound, I know I will cherish each meal with these ladies just sitting, talking and getting to know one another. No distractions from the TV, our phones, families, work, etc. etc. Just plain ‘ole talkin. Doesn’t get much better than that!