Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

October 8th, 2009 browsing by day


Getting Ready For The In-Laws

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Good Morning, Darlings. Tonight we are hosting the parents of our dear friend Teague, in-laws of our sweet Crystal. Lots of scurrying around to get ready.  Last minute cleaning and prep.  Here’s our menu for the evening:

Beef Tenderloin
Tossed Salad
Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic
Green Beans with Almonds
Dinner Rolls
Strawberry Cheesecake

It may not seem like it to you, but this is a really easy meal. Let me break it down for you.  The beef tenderloin gets rubbed with butter, salt and pepper and goes into the oven for 25 minutes at 500F.  Salad is just bagged salad (why would I cut up all those greens?).  Potatoes – cut up little red potatoes, toss them with olive oil and spices and stick in a 400F oven for 1 hour. Green beans – canned green beans heated up and toss in some almonds. Dinner rolls – prepackaged and heated up.  Cheesecake –  store bought.

My concern is that I’m phoning it in. It all seems so easy that I feel like I should be more stressed out, but I’m not.  I’m more concerned about what to do with my crazy dogs when they arrive tonight.  I know that when folks come to my house they expect a certain level of food expertise, but there are those who are just happy to be somewhere they will get fed and not have to worry about anything else.

So, today I will set about making the table the focal point of the meal.  I am going to iron my white tablecloth.  I will set out my nicest tableware.  I went to the Dollar Tree and picked up these cool, wide glass containers for the roses that are low enough to see over.  I will fill them with knockout roses from my front yard – they are perfect for table settings because they have no scent.  Remember, this is an Important Tip:  do not set your table with scented flowers or candles – they will only compete with the food for what smells best. And after slaving over a meal for your guests, you want them to smell only the yummy goodness you are bringing to the table, yes?

Question – what is the most important aspect of the dinner party?

Food?  Well, of course, you want everything to taste good.  But is it any less fab if you pick it up from a purveyor who does it better than you can? Absolutely not.  In fact, in most cases it helps to know your weaknesses and garner strength where you can.

Drinks?  They don’t hurt.  But the in-laws are tee totalers. So tonight, I will have a nice glass of wine with Miss DeVore before eveyone else arrives.

Tablesetting?  To me, a lovely table setting is like putting on your makeup.  It makes the whole package look better.  Plus, there is nothing like the sound of your guests ohhhhing and ahhhhing when they walk in and see your table scape.  It is the icing on the party.  It makes everyone know that you think they are special.  And you can do it on the cheap.  Pull some things from your house you love and set them on the table. Whatever makes you happy (not the cat, of course, but you get my meaning).

A clean house?  Sure, they’ll notice if you are living like Big and Little Edie from Grey Gardens, but if you were the Edies, you wouldn’t be throwing a dinner party, now would you?  Clean the bathrooms, make the beds and dump all your Playboy magazines under the bed. Light a ton of unscented candles and keep everyone out of the kitchen if it looks like something exploded in there. Ply your guests with wine (or ice tea). Smile.  A lot.

Your attitude.  Most.Important.Aspect.   You are happy to have guests in your home. You invited them. You like these people. Let them know. Welcome them into your home with a huge smile and open arms.  It doesn’t matter that you are serving Kraft Mac n Cheese from the blue box with a Boone’s Farm chaser.  Do it with love and it is better than dining at a five star restaurant with a bunch of bores.

I promise.

Go out there and entertain – tis the season!
xoxo, Patti