I got really nervous last night before the dinner party – I was lucky that I was running around getting everything ready or I would have probably had a pretty serious anxiety attack. Husband was doing his best to reassure me, but keeping moving was more helpful – Husband on his worst day is less anxious than my best day.
The roots of my worries were two things that made this dinner party different: one was that I was making all the food, not technically having a potluck. So this meant I was making a lot of food just in case anyone brought extra friends. Second was more important, which was all the other people at my dinner parties have been grad school friends – people with a ton of things in common, who were similar ages. For this party, I only invited folks I’d met around town since moving here – all acquaintances, many of whom didn’t know each other. They were all different ages, all different occupations… I didn’t know if anyone would say anything to each other.
All the other parties had some kind of fun dinner-party theme and the focus could be on the food – people did get to know each other, but they mostly talked about the tiny appetizers or the many soups. For this one, front and center was the conversation, with a few plates of enchiladas and a salad for anyone who wanted it.
As people arrived, I saw easy introductions made and got people drinks, and like magic… they all talked about dogs. Dogs! Husband and I don’t have one or want one, but everyone else at our party had dog stories to share. From there, I eventually pulled the food out of the oven and got everything situated, but we all wandered through the house in different groups, some playing foosball and some just sitting. I got to talk to everyone a little, and people who didn’t know each other well before bonded.
It was hands down my favorite dinner experience so far. I would definitely say it’s not for the faint of heart – my resolution is to save these kind of conversation-driven parties for friends I know well and try to have an activity (movie night or game night) if lots of folks are new to me. Still, I’m pretty thrilled. I did a brave thing, and while it was a small brave thing, I’ve already had two messages today from people who enjoyed themselves; it really did happen!