The Future of Hosting: Crappy Dinner Parties

A friend recently sent me this brilliant article. Feel free to read or at least skim before reading my thoughts, because it’s truly lovely.

I think that one of the things that keeps people from having others over is the demands of seeming to “have it all together.” Whatever we do, we think that our lives must magically look like a Better Housekeeping magazine when guests visit. What Crappy Dinner Parties prove is that, not only do we not have to do that, but we actually create greater intimacy with others when we let them see our normal life, our piles of laundry, frozen lasagna, our stained-carpet lives.

I was listening to a bit of radio the other day where people were calling in and talking about their biggest thanksgiving memories, and they were all bad: ruined meals, stolen turkeys, whole-family-wide illnesses. These things aren’t fun in the moment, and they seem like they are the end of the world if you expect your life to look like a catalog, but what they actually do is create memories. They make us closer to each other. I am still going to try to clean my house and have enough of every dish ready when my friends and family come over, but Crappy Dinner Parties have inspired me: for the people who I’m closest to, whatever I have is completely good enough.

What do you do to curb the tendency toward perfectionism? Do you have a story about a hilarious mishap that turned into a dinner party memory? Do share. 🙂

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13 comments on “The Future of Hosting: Crappy Dinner Parties

  1. Christina Nifong says:

    Yes! Here’s my post on this exact same idea…. https://christinanifong.com/2016/11/03/my-season-of-celebration/

    Great minds!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. adguru101 says:

    So true! While I wouldn’t call it a “crappy” dinner party, my husband and I attended a delightful impromptu dinner earlier this week. Our friends had no time to prepare but wanted to get together, so they simply picked up some steaks and side dishes at the grocery store, we brought the wine, and we all enjoyed a last-minute visit. If they’d waited until they could create a “gourmet experience”, we’d wouldn’t have seen them until 2017!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. jonathantn says:

    I read the original article. I have to be honest. I was a bit horrified. Even spontaneity has to be pre-planned. I don’t always have enough food in my fridge or cupboard that I could create a meal on the fly. I tend to shop for the day instead the week or for several days in advance. I do try to keep simple finger foods like cheese and crackers, etc., in case we ask friends over for a cocktail at the spur of the moment. But inviting friends over for dinner and creating a meal from my otherwise bare cupboard or fridge doesn’t sound like fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily say it sounds fun, per se, but I think I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I prefer the idea of stressing about how we’re going to make this dinner happen over not seeing my friends; it seems entirely too easy lately to cancel plans because something isn’t ready; for that reason, I really respected her commitment to do whatever they needed to. Still, though, not everyone wants that stress, for sure!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. There was one Thanksgiving that half way through cooking the turkey the power went out and was out until about midnight. We gathered all the candles and ate by candlelight. We ate what was already prepared and I think it was one of the best family get togethers ever.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Linda says:

    Thanks for the link to an interesting article. I would definitely do what I can before company arrives, like tidy up and swipe the surfaces, but I gave up on perfection. Oh, and I find that nobody here does dinner parties, it’s all meeting in restaurants or ordering takeout. Yaay me!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Elizabeth says:

    About a month ago I answered a friend’s request that we get together for supper at her house. Since we usually do that as couples, my husband and I showed up at her door. When she said,”Oh,” we figured something was amiss. Turns out she meant “we” as “she and I.” But good Greek that she is, she instantly regrouped, told her husband exiled for our “girl time” to rush home with more meat and rummaged a whole other meal from her refrigerator. We had a terrific time.And she loved it, since in her culture being always ready to feed guests is an essential trait.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m probably not very good at letting things go when I host, but every December my husband and I host a Christmas party for our neighbors up and down our street. Last year, about 15 minutes before the first guests arrived, the pot rack/ light fixture fell with a crash onto the kitchen island, shattering wine glasses, spoiling food, and scaring the heck out of us. We were a wreck and so was our much darker kitchen. But miaculoisly no one was hurt and the neighbors arrived with grace and good cheer and the party went on. In fact, it was probably the best party yet.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you! I wrote a blog The Funky Housewife and people loved it. Turns out we all need permission to be real. If we didn’t worry about the little stuff and just focused on the fun of friends we would be more social.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Kim Smyth says:

    Both good posts and both of you are right. Spontaneous is best and life is not a Good Housekeeping magazine! We don’t get many drop in guests, but I wouldn’t stress if we did. Except right now since we don’t really have a kitchen and my husband and I are even eating TV dinners, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I haven’t hosted many Thanksgiving parties in my own home, but I do remember one Christmas dinner. Two or three days before I got cortisone injections in both hand for carpal tunnel, and I assumed — silly me — I’d be fine for hosting and serving a family Christmas dinner. Nope. While I was able to get things started before the family arrived, I wasn’t able to lift the roasted chicken out of the oven, or do the dishes, or a lot of other things that I really didn’t want any of these guests in my own home to do. I wanted us to focus on the social, and the food, not the logistics.

    Well, I couldn’t do those things — and family pitched in. It worked out all right and was a great holiday dinner (despite the pain).

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I don’t entertain a lot. But I do meet with a group of friends every Monday. This week one of them contacted me and asked if I could see the moonrise from my garden. I replied I could and suggested we all meet at my place half an hour earlier than usual, have a light supper and watch the splendor of the supermoon as it rose in the African sky. The suggestion was gladly accepted and we gathered. Sadly so did the clouds and it was almost 3 hours after moonrise that we actually saw the moon. (Our photos of clouds scudding across the moon are spectacular – for us!) The supper, which we had all flung together from things in our homes, was enjoyable and we ate well. But what I will always remember about that ‘supermoon’ night is the laughter. We laughed till the tears came. Now thinking back on it, I cannot remember what we laughed about, but our laughter colored the evening and made it a special memory. Spontaneous and fun. Entertaining at its best.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I know what you mean… Here’s my story that broke me of trying to be super-duper perfect. I moved to Florida briefly for my master’s degree, and I hosted Easter dinner that year. I invited maybe ten people – all of whom I had met that previous August. Long story short, my kitchen sink backed up, one of my guests took off his dress shirt and was trying to fix it in his undershirt, and when that didn’t work we all (all ten of us) wound up in my bathroom washing dishes in the sink and shower. I was mortified, because I was raised being told that you treat your guests like royalty, but the next time I had people over it was so nice because everyone felt right at home! It took a lot of stress off of me, and my guests told me they liked how comfortable they felt when they came over. So my brused ego was worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

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