I only have one rule for how to host the imperfect dinner party.
Leave people wanting more. Actually, this is a rule for life; but when one is prone to exuberance it can be difficult to sustain.
In relation to dinner parties there are a few key ingredients that can make an evening culminate with such cadence one will be begging for more. It settles on the balance between restraint and generosity. As host of this party a little bit of pre planning can make all the difference. Let’s discover how to host the imperfect dinner party. Consider the table setting, the guest list and the type of ambience you would like at your party. Now that you know what you want; relinquish all of your previous conventions and consider the following guidelines.
The guest list. The idea you would invite lots of one type, because they would all have things in common; needs to dispensed of immediately. Because let’s face it, an entire table of accountants is never a good idea. It’s all about diversity. Consider the following.
You need lots of different personalities. They can be any mix you choose. Here are some suggestions. A political journalist; more than one and the night becomes a bore. No more than a couple of creatives; as they are too busy thinking and by the time they have something to say the moment has passed. A radio announcer, can be super funny, but they need to be separated from the political journalist. Perhaps a lawyer, good negotiators when it all gets a bit rowdy. A real estate agent. A real estate agent you say, excellent once things are going and everyone is selling their soul to the highest bidder. I do love the world and all the people in it. So, you get it, you can invite anyone. The idea is to invite all different types of people and you can dilute each other in the most delightful way over the course of an evening.
The food. Food is about labour and love. It is not about expensive kitchen appliances or science, well not at my place anyway. Food needs to be sensual and satisfying. Act like you have made an effort, even if you have not. People love to be spoilt. Themes are okay so long as you don’t take them too far. Plan for your skill level. You do not want to feel stressed during a dinner party. That may mean you need to buy food in. A dinner party should be about enjoyment, not obligation. Judge your food choices based on your guests.
So whilst a warm gooey Brie laced with honey that drips down your fingers may be perfect for your peers…who doesn’t love to lick the stickiness from the tips of one’s fingers. It may not be the best choice for that dinner with your bosses wife.
Be restrained when required. Do not feed your guests too much. You do not want them feeling full or sleepy, converse to that you definitely don’t want them to have to stop for pizza on the way home. Be generous but measured. As a guideline I serve a set entrée and main and then serve cheese as a third course shared plate. Those that are still hungry can be satiated here.
The fragrance of fresh figs on a cheese plate in autumn. Such a lush sweet forbidden fruit. Thoughts of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, it was a fig, not an apple. Think about it…the softness, the colour, the texture, the taste.
Alcohol. It is your responsibility as host to make sure your guests make it home safely so have a plan in place before the fun begins. There is this sweet spot with alcohol. You don’t want your guests to feel shabby tomorrow but you do want them to have a good time. As a host it is lovely to receive flowers, but never with an apology note the next day. Once again you need to find equilibrium between generosity and restraint. For me, it’s that space between the unconscious mind and the ideal, where everything is wonderful. It’s something different for everyone. By now it’s time to migrate to the lounge for some dessert and relaxation.
You only need one more ingredient, an excellent storyteller; as they can get everyone in the mood. Not the guess what happened when I went to donate blood the other day genre, more the I just visited Heide Museum of Modern Art and I found it quite distracting.
“Does everyone know what actually went on there. There was this insane love story between John and Sunday that involved incredible sexual freedom. Sunday and Sidney Nolan had this ferocious affair during the time he painted the Ned Kelly series right there at that house. And all the while under John’s nose, in fact; I think he would watch them. And then every day they would sit down to afternoon tea; like proper, civilised people. Can you imagine that?”
We can all imagine that. A hall pass every day of the week. We are way more contained than that. Never would I ever…and you my deftly host have just moved the bar so far towards the imperfect. Strap yourself in; because things are about to get crazy.
Post Script Disclaimer : Adults may find themselves swimming in their underwear in the middle of the night, stealing street signs, or watching the sun come up. But they are nowhere near as bad as John and Sunday. And that is how to host the imperfect dinner party.
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