If I could make my own bumper sticker for my car for this campaign season it would say, “ Bring Back the Dinner Party”. What happened to supper clubs where people actually cooked? It is fun.
Restaurants are so loud. If you have over six people forget it you can’t hear anything at the other end of the table. And if you are me you always think “ what are they laughing about down there” and “ please lord make this woman stop talking about her dogs knee surgery and how brilliant her kids are”
Guess what, I bet your dining room or kitchen table for that matter is perfect and would allow you to hear the funny stuff so you don’t get stuck in “Conversation Jail” with the Dud couple. If you haven’t entertained in a while ask yourself why not? It isn’t that hard.
You really get to know people, you can laugh super loud if you want and there is no waiter that is going to give you the stink eye if you don’t tip enough. You NEVER have to wait for drinks. What? Your guests are out of wine? Just pour some more. Done.
Don’t freak out over what to make. I promise people just want to come over. Think simple and make ahead. It doesn’t need to be fancy French restaurant food like Pheasant under Glass and Escargot. It can be a big pot of beef stew that has been simmering in your slow cooker all day. Your house will smell amazing without you having to light all your expensive candles. Just have your guests bring a salad and some bread and you are all set. And do LET them bring something. This took a while for me to figure out. I would do everything myself. They want to help out, almost everyone I have ever had over says “what can I bring”.
If you haven’t had a dinner party (a real one, not bbq on paper plates although I love that too) than I challenge you to do it. Use the nice stuff you got for your wedding, after all why do you have it in the first place. My plates are from Marshalls, I don’t think anyone has ever turned one over to check the brand then promptly refused to eat my food because it wasn’t imported from Italy.
A few tips and then I will give you some links of my tried and true go to recipes; ones I have made time and time again.
Tip#1 You don’t need to spend a fortune on dinner. Sometimes cooking like your grandmother is a good thing. Did you know anyone who could stretch a dollar more? Probably not and whose food was better than hers? No ones.
Tip#2 Don’t worry about how clean your house is. Just straighten up. No one cares
Tip#3 Make a dish that can be assembled ahead of time. Think big casserolly thing or huge pot of soup. You make the mess, clean and can enjoy your guests when they come over.
Tip #4 Let your guests help you. Ask them to bring a dessert or salad. I like to make the appetizers myself so that they are ready to go when friends start to arrive.
Tip #5 Most importantly have fun and don’t freak out. If something burns just laugh and order Chinese take out. At least you will have a great story to tell.
My Favorite recipes lately are:
Beef short rib lasagna with porcini mushrooms.
Certified to blow your guests away. It is amazing. Make ahead and just bake off when guests arrive. They will DIE.
Chicken Tikka Masala.
Very easy to toss in the slow cooker. Indian food is amazing. Serve with rice and Naan bread (you can get it frozen at Trader Joes, shhh)
Awesome for Tacos. Could not be easer.
Beef and Bean enchiladas.
Risotto with Truffles
(just use truffle oil instead of a truffle too pricey)
Seared Scallops over wilted Spinach
These should get you started. I have so so many more. If you have specific questions or want to plan a menu just shoot me an email. I am happy to help. Now pick a date and go invite some friends over.
What is the best dinner party you have ever been to?
OK you’ve inspired me – I used to throw dinner parties all the time before #4 was born – not sure what happened after that!! Will start it back up! And I’m super excited because I wanted to make a pot roast tonight and was just scouring my cookbooks and couldn’t find one – now I have one! THANKS! 🙂
The supper club has gone the way of the dinosaurs and that’s sad b/c I had so much fun with my old supper club! Always on the hunt for new recipes and since I’m traveling next week, I can make some of these today for my peeps to eat while I’m gone. Thanks for the assist!
Wendy, we are kindred spirits with a shared passion for cooking and entertaining. I love, love, love to cook and I love to share it with fun people. Bring back the dinner party!!!!!!!!! Love you to pieces of truffles and seared scallops over a beautiful mound of wilted spinach!
#’s 3 & 4 kicked my dinner party inner goddess to the curb. You always inspire me, lovin’ these recipes. Totally making these this week!
I love to do this with Chicken Chili in the slow cooker. Just throw a few chicken breasts, some onion, corn, pinto beans, salsa, taco seasoning, etc. in with some chicken broth and let it cook all day! Serve with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream and people will die.
Also, just last night, we got together with a few families and got family sized portions of 3 pastas plus salad and tirimisu from Mama Ricottas and it was surprisingly inexpensive and so so so yummy! Love things like this!
I love this article, Wendy. I do this with a group of friends almost every month. We are four families with kids ranging in age from 4 – 15. The host family makes the main dish & gives guidelines on what will round out the meal nicely to the others. We all enjoy a fabulous meal, lots of talk & laughter & the kids entertain each other until we drag them home where they crash. A win/win for us all.
Most couples I know are so grateful not to have to cook dinner/battle over dinner with their kids for a night they’ll happily accept an invite to dinner in a house with dust bunnies the size of newborn babies and eat a pb&j sandwich. As long as there’s a cocktail involved.
Love this!! And thanks much for the recipe links – can’t wait to try the easiest ones. 🙂
Great article! I couldn’t agree more and I love your recipes from the pioneer woman. Everything she makes is amazing and beautiful! Thanks! (your new neighbor)
I totally appreciate this. I do. BUT I just have not completed my china sets, etc. And have just never felt like I had the adequate serving stuff to do such a thing. I’d rather make reserveys somewhere for that reason. I want to enjoy and hang/vs. worry about cooking. BUT ok, I will consider. You are my idol. Will you cater for me? Yet, be my guest too?