If you are like me, while you are eager to connect deeper this year, having a dinner party in this busy chaotic life that we lead, is all a bit too hard.
I totally understand. I used to feel the same.
I wanted to in my heart, however the planning, cooking, hosting and cleaning all seemed too much. To add to that, we have all experienced times where the party was awkward and conversation was a little stifled. So after a while I stopped having people over for dinner on a regular basis.
But in my new desire for deeper connection, I have decided to try again! And Guess What? I have discovered that if you don’t overthink it, than hosting a dinner party can actually be fun! In fact more than fun, it can actually be easy, full of warmth and incredibly refreshing.
We now do it more than ever. But I do it very differently than before, to make it as easy and stress-free as possible. This my friends is key!
Here are my hottest tips to hosting an easy dinner for those people whom you love, or new friends that you want to get to know.
1. Start small
I used to have these lavish dinner parties. I would invite 12+ people. It would be big, and loud, and they would turn out to be a huge investment of time, energy and money. I would shop, cook and prepare, and it would literally take up the entire day and night. While it was always jovial and fun, the amount of effort that was required made it hard to repeat on a regular basis.
These days we’ve realised that we need to be mindful with who we invite. One or two couples who already know each other. People we genuinely want to do life with or get to know. It is small, and close, and intimate. There is only ever one conversation at the dinner table so no one is left out, and everyone has a chance to connect. Plus it is so much easier to cook for!
2. Play a connection game. Or two!
These games are life giving. I go through seven of our favourite games to play in this article, seven games that build connection. We have found these to be a game changer! They break the ice and help to stir into conversations that go beyond the superficial. No more awkward silence, or meaningless conversation!
3. Do NOT overthink the food!
I used to plan the most opulent menus. They were intricate and long, not to mention expensive. I would plan the menu and then while people were over, I would spend more time in the kitchen then I did enjoying their company!
Then I discovered that what people are the most hungry for, are connection and friendship.
Food is a bonus. So while I love to nourish my friends, it is more important that I am spending time with them, rather than being stuck in the kitchen stirring a sauce vigorously.
Moreover, I have learned that the most delicious things are simple.
So now I do food which I know well, that are simple and easy to create. Think: slow cooked chicken curry, rice and an easy salad. OR. Pan fried salmon dressed with olive oil and blanched asparagus. Dress it up with easy roast potatoes. OR do a ‘make your own burrito.’ All you need is mince (or falafels), chopped salads, cheese, wraps and condiments. People love to make their own stuff. Make something easy that you know well and don’t sweat the details.
When you are hosting the dinner and people always ask what they should bring DON’T SAY “NOTHING”. TELL THEM TO BRING SOMETHING. Otherwise they will anyway, and it may be completely useless and unhelpful. Great. Another box of favourites to make us fat. Thank you so much for your creative contribution.
Instead, get people to bring something. Better that they bring something useful that will save you time and energy, which will make it much easier for you to enjoy the night! So get someone on drinks. Then put someone else on dessert. A lot of people LOVE to bake and having this opportunity will genuinely jack people up! If they don’t like to, don’t you worry they will bring fruit and chocolate. That is also fine. Less washing up! Now that you have delegated the drinks and dessert, all you have to do is think about the mains. Don’t worry about entrée. It’s overrated.
5. Communicate a time limit
If we host a dinner during the week and it’s regular, then Mark and I have a time set. We communicate this before people come! This does not sound romantic, but we love it, and we find others love it too. Especially if they have children who are being baby sat! If during the week a great time is from 6-9!
I love doing this. Time is precious when you set parameters and so you savour the time you have, and know that there will be an end point. Also knowing it will not be a super late night where you are stacking the dishwasher at 11 30pm will make the whole night so much more stress-free and enjoyable. Moreover, you are not exhausted the next day, and much more likely to have people over more regularly.
This has been a game changer for me!
As an early riser, sleep is vital to me. So having an end time which was pre communicated, makes dinner much more doable, far more enjoyable, and much more likely to be continued.
Doing these five things have made Dinners easy and fun. What’s more, we look forward to them. Now while people are over I enjoy every moment. I am not stuck in the kitchen as dinner is simple. Guests love that they have contributed, and the ‘games’ ensure conversation is warm and deep. We all make the most of the time because we know the night does not go forever. The clean-up is easy and a great way to wind down with my husband. And when we go to bed, we are not exhausted, rather our hearts are full as we are savouring a night with friends which was simple and easy. Each week we look forward to doing it again.
So have a casual dinner, not a dinner party, and see how you go! Apply some of the tips.
They will make all the difference in the world to hosting an easy stress free party.
What are some tips you have for hosting easy Dinner Parties?
I hope your week is smashing.
You are deeply loved, and richly cherished.
Reign in Life
PS Three things that build connection came out Monday if you missed it!
PPS I am launching my own business as a personnel health consultant. Click here for more details.