3 Ingredients You Need for a No-Stress Dinner Party
In a world full of social media, texts, tweets, and video chats, the classic dinner party seems to be an archaic thing of the past. Call me old fashioned, but I think the dinner party needs to be revitalized and made a regular occurrence in our life, especially as single Catholics.
Dinner parties (done well!) combine cooking, old friends, meeting new people, and evangelizing. What better way to live out the New Evangelization than by hosting a dinner party with friends? After all, even Jesus made sure to grab a meal of fish with his disciples after He rose from the dead.
I’ll be the first to admit that, in the beginning, our dinner parties were pretty clunky. I struggled to balance time in the kitchen with time with friends. I didn’t know if the meal should be ready when guests walked in the door, or if I should invite them to cook with me. But almost a year and half after starting to intentionally host dinner parties, the evenings have continued to improve. What started out with inviting friends over after evening Mass has become an intentional way to welcome old and new friends into our home. Now, we regularly invite people over for an evening of good friends, fellowship, and food.
Dinner parties can be an intimidating idea, though. Scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest can leave you stressing over what to serve, how to decorate, and whether your appetizers need a filter to look decent. Don’t be scared away from hosting a dinner party because they sound hard to plan and too formal for your taste. Dinner parties don’t have to be themed, super extravagant or perfect.
Instead, look at a dinner party as an opportunity to build up community and fellowship with friends. Everything won’t be perfect – that’s okay. I still remember serving overcooked chicken to some friends and laughing about it together. Simply let your dinner party reflect the joy and spirit of your relationship with Christ!
Not only are dinner parties a great opportunity to get to know friends better, they also provide a casual environment for singles to meet new people. When you’re comfortable with hosting people you know over for dinner, invite them to invite their friends to join you as well. Gone are the regular stresses and pressures of a first date – instead, you can meet people in the comfort of your own home over a homemade dinner.
Want to host a dinner party? Here are the three ingredients you need to throw a great, intentional dinner party:
Good food (after all, it is a Dinner Party)
While there are hundreds of food menus you could put together for a dinner party, the important thing to remember is to think of your dinner party as a gift. You can pick out the food you know they’ll enjoy and put love into preparing it for them. Then you get to celebrate your friendship (and delicious food!) together. Don’t put all the pressure on yourself, either – especially if you’re just starting to host a dinner party. You can have potluck style dinner parties, too! One of my favorite evenings with friends was when we had a taco night. Each guest brought an ingredient and we prepared it together in the kitchen.
In the summer, ask your guests to bring their favorite meat or veggie to throw on the grill. In the winter, make a crockpot full of chili and invite your guests to bring their favorite toppings. Make sure to take time to prepare the main part of the meal a little in advance so that when your guests arrive, you can be fully present with them.
If you scroll through the notes I write on my phone, you’d find one called ‘dinner party guests.’ My husband and I have created a list of people we’d like to invite over to our home for a meal. The list continues to grow as we meet new people and settle into our lives in a new city. We meet people at work, church, small groups and bible studies and can’t wait to enjoy a meal with them.
Who would you like to invite over to share good food? Your party guests could be siblings, cousins, friends from college, or friends you’ve made at church. Invite your neighbors! Invite your parish priests – after all, someone has to bless the food! Your guest list could be made up of a group of friends who all know each other, or you could use your dinner party to introduce all of your friends to each other. After all, we’re not meant to go through this life alone. As Christians, we aren’t one-man islands – we’re made for community!
A great thing about dinner parties at your home or apartment is that you don’t have to scoot out of the restaurant as soon as the meal is finished. Instead, you can mingle with friends and have conversations without feeling guilty for staying and chatting after the check comes to the table.
Before you know it, you’ll be finished eating. It’s crazy how little time it takes to eat something that took so long to prepare! Once everyone has had their fill, suggest that a move to the living room. Leave the dishes for later – they’re not going anywhere. Then pour a drink, put the coffee on, and suggest dessert. Now that you’re in comfortable chairs or on the couch, you can settle in for more conversation.
Dinner parties are great places to delve into heart-to-heart conversations with friends. Ask your guests what they’re passionate about. Start intentional conversations by inquiring about a spiritual book someone is reading. Chat about current events, or your favorite movies. At a recent dinner party I was at, the hosts loved classic literature. After the meal was finished, we ended up in the living room listening to someone read aloud a short story!
Don’t be afraid to host a dinner party! When you sit back and see the beauty of a good meal, great conversation and fun with friends, it’s a reminder of what the beauty of Heaven will be like. It’s one giant party around the Father’s table! A small taste of Heaven definitely makes all the cooking and cleaning worth it.
Chloe Langr is a very short stay-at-home-wife, whose growth has probably been stunted by the inhumane amounts of coffee she regularly consumes. When she is not buried in a growing stack of books, she can be found spending time with her husband, geeking out over Theology of the Body, or podcasting. You can find more about her on her blog "Old Fashioned Girl."