The “Bare Bones” Dinner Party

I’m wondering today why people don’t invite each other over for dinner very much anymore. Is this just happening in Victoria, or is it happening everywhere?

I love to host and entertain and I love to go to other people’s houses too. But getting an invite seems to be a rare occurrence in this town, people seem so busy. My question is, is everyone as busy as they look, or are we all sitting at home alone at night wishing to be somewhere else, wondering why no one has asked us over … when we ourselves have never extended an invitation?

As people who know me know, I’m an organizer. I love to plan and organize events for other people to come to. This can involve entertaining others for dinners and other events at my place, or somewhere else. But you know what? I have realized that I don’t do this very much anymore because getting a return invitation is pretty rare. Living in a city where I actually know a fair amount of people and have friends, this is pretty sad! It’s time to turn over a new leaf. Will you help?

To spur on the practice of inviting friends over for dinner, so they can actually – gasp! – see where you live, I’ve come up with some instructions on hosting a “Bare Bones” Dinner Party. There are only ten things to do.

Go forth, dinner hosters! Maybe, if I get lucky, I’ll be on your invitation list soon. 😉

Instructions for Hosting a “Bare Bones” Dinner Party

1. Make friends (or hopefully you already have some)

2. Send an email to one or two (or more) friends, asking them over to your house for dinner

3. Work out a time on a night in the future (2-3 weeks in advance might work) that works for all of you

4. Tell the friends that you are going to make the “main” dish and ask them to bring something. Literally, tell them what to bring, as in, “I was hoping you would bring a salad.” Make sure all the courses are covered. If they offer to bring wine or something else, say yes (if you like wine or “something else”). Ask your friends if they  have any dietary issues that you should know about.

5. A day or two before the dinner, buy the ingredients for your main dish. If you don’t know how to cook, Google “how to make a pot roast” (or similar) and follow the super-easy instructions. If you or your guests are vegetarian, Google “how to make something vegetarian” (or similar). If you do know how to cook, get out your recipe books and plan something creative and yummy. (My default cooking site is always CookingLight.com.) Preferably, make a dish that you put into the oven to bake, not something on the stove. This will allow you to visit more with your friends when they come over.

6. The day before the dinner, clean your bathroom quickly (toilet and sink at least).  Also, do a quick dust of the surfaces that the guests will see in your living areas on their visit. (Estimated time: 15 minutes total)

7. The day of the dinner, shower and wear clothes.

8. The afternoon of the dinner, tidy up a few things around the house like toys or whatnot. Don’t spend too long on this, your house doesn’t have to be spotless. Just make sure that your guests will have somewhere uncluttered to sit, a clean dining table, and a clear path to walk through the house.

9. Make the main dish that you planned, putting it either on top of or in the oven depending on the timing of things. Plan it so that the main dish is going to be ready about an hour after your guests arrive. Make sure you have enough clean dishes available for the food and the drink.

10. Sit back and relax. Wait for your friends to arrive. Whey they get there, welcome them, pour them a drink and DO NOT apologize for your house being too small, too cluttered, too dirty, too anything. Just BE. They are your friends after all. They are already predispositioned to like you and have a good time.

And, then, have that good time. Let me know how it goes!

8 thoughts on “The “Bare Bones” Dinner Party

  1. I love it! Just what we talked about, isn’t it? Good for you, taking the first step. This could be a movement. I could add one little thing. Put in a suggested menu with each dish or course for those who might need help. Show them how simple it is. Mine might be:
    Chicken dish to do in oven. (I make it)
    some kind of salad
    some kind of veggie casserole
    some kind of fruit/dessert dish
    maybe appetizers and/or dinner rolls
    I did this and everyone was most excited to come. As you said, keep it simple.

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  2. You two must be related to the famous Alice Garner. On Sundays after church you could drop in and sometimes there would be a roast on… and sometimes around 2 p.m. she would delegate someone to make up salmon sandwiches or run to town for KFC .
    During once such Sunday, she said to the assemble multitude ” I hope you came here for the visit, not the gourmet dining. You will never go hungry if you visit, but I am not going to get all worked up if it is not a splendid meal – the main thing is to enjoy everyone’s company”.

    My mom would get fussed when people came over. I always tried to have a little Alice in me instead. A great attitude for no-fuss dinner parties!

    And here is my chicken recipe for non-cooks. Thaw M&M chicken breasts and place in 9X13 pan. Mix in a bowl a bottle of Russian dressing, an envelope of lipton’s onion soup mix and a can of whole berry cranberry sauce. pour over chicken. Bake uncovered 45 mins at 400 or so. Everyone raves.

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      • we love having people over but we’ve done it a lot less since the arrive of a little bundle 10 months ago – i must say that we’ve been lucky to have some great friends that have allowed us to be social slugs this last year – as you say it’s lovely to have a meal at someone else’s home!

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