If you’re going to host a successful evening with invited guests, here are some tips:
-the guest list should be 2/3 people you’ve never met in person before,
-you should make a recipe you’ve never made before,
-get the groceries (including meat and dairy) from a store you’ve never been to before,
-spontaneously invite a woman you meet in the hallway of your building, even though she doesn’t speak English, has no idea what you’re talking about, and you’ve never seen her before.
The hallway woman didn’t show up to last Friday’s dinner, maybe because she’s actually a serviceperson from the utility company rather than a neighbor, or maybe because she doesn’t like eating strange food in stranger’s strange apartments, or maybe 30 minutes of notice just wasn’t enough. Anyhoodle, the people who did come over were fun and interesting and the sort of lovely folks who, when the prosecco opens with a vinegary hiss, will laugh and happily switch to red.
It’s funny, the sort of trade that goes on with dinner parties. I’ve asked people to trek to my abode, up four flights of stairs, to eat food that they may well hate and/or be allergic to, and to make small talk with other people who they may well hate and/or be allergic to. Guests are stepping into a minefield of unfamiliar customs (shoes on or off? am I supposed to eat these figs with my hands, or is there a fork and plate I’m just not seeing? can I ask the host to turn the music down if I can’t hear people talk?) In return, they bring music recommendations, wonderful company, wine, and chocolate chip cookies. Amazing.
My only real hostessing tip, besides being lucky enough to have great guests and a local store that sells surprisingly tasty chicken breasts, is to try to use a cup of cream per person when cooking. Add more salt than you usually would, make a little room on the coat tree for guest’s coats, remind your partner to put pants on before the guests are due to arrive, and have fun.