Meal Planning for a Non-Potluck Dinner Party!

I am really excited about tomorrow’s dinner party for two reasons: one, it’s mostly people that haven’t been to my house (I’ve only seen them at public events around town, so now I’m really having ‘strangers’ into my home!). The other is that instead of making it potluck, I am making all the food – or at least enough food, with any things the guests bring as extra.

Planning a meal like this is delicate – I’m not a fancy person, and I cannot even pretend to be effectively, so I’m having to keep it simple. I think I might have a vegetarian or two, so I’m hoping to do some black bean and sweet potato enchiladas, black bean and shredded chicken enchiladas, and some tomato-and-onion rice as a side. We made some snack-y foods this week in preparation for the event, and I’ll throw together a salad with green peppers, mushrooms and carrots the day of… I might make a pound cake for dessert, just to top it all off! This way, we’ve got a dinner that is a little customizable (add sour cream? add avocado? Be my guest!) and hearty, but not fancy or overwhelming. It’s just having people over for Mexican food, pretty much.

The meal planning is only part of it, though, when I think about having total strangers over. Husband is certainly going to want to have a fire in the fireplace and maybe take folks on a tour of the house – I hope he can convince someone to play on our mostly-neglected foosball table. I hope that we can get folks talking about subjects that bring them joy rather than just talking about things they liked and disliked about the recent Presidential election; part of my mental planning is wondering how we’ll handle people getting heated on such subjects. I even have to plan for chairs – there are going to be about 10 of us (!!!) and that’s just slightly too much to fit around our table.

In all of this, I’m trying to remember that it is important to bring people into your home and make them feel welcome. It’s worth it even if I feel like my house is imperfect and the food will be simple and the conversation could get odd. It’ll be a good party, and I’ll have completed 4 this year!