COME to Simple Dinner.
Every Sunday night, 5-8, my house
Please bring whatever is already in your kitchen:
leftovers, jars of olives, cheese, that foil wrapped experiment, etc.
No preparing food. WE MEAN IT.
Imagine a relaxing evening where you don’t cook a thing or eat out. It is a carefree evening spent over a beautiful meal, catching up with good friends and still filling your belly for the night. Bonus: your kids and spouse are fed too! Sounds great, doesn’t it?
This is the formula for Simple Dinner
An evening created by a dear friend of mine. This idea changed my view of entertaining and reconnecting with the people I love.
Normally, a dinner party is impossible. Well, for a busy mom of three, it feels impossible. First you have dietary restrictions for everyone. Then, after taking in the vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, no shade veggie menu into planning mode, you still have the house cleaning, table decorating, plus all the extra things that Martha Stewart loves to teach us. All of this hoopla is the reason most of us are immobilized when it comes to hosting a weekly event. I am never going to fold my napkins into cute little cloth animals, much less IRON them for your visit, but I love having company. I love being involved with my community.
One of my nearest and dearest friends said, “Let’s have a dinner party every Sunday night.” I thought she had lost her mind. At the time, we both had a bathtub full of babies and no self-care happening. There were no girl nights out and no making it to the gym for an hour. I think I even had spit-up all over my shirt during the conversation.
While I missed being with my group of friends since becoming a mom, the thought of adding anything else to my sleep-deprived life was daunting. “Uh, hell no!” was my response to her. She laughed. “No, really. Let’s do this. Every Sunday night, we hold a 5:00 time slot open and tell everyone, if they can come, they should. There is no RSVP and no one is cleaning the house. You bring ONLY what you can dig out of your fridge or pantry. No planning anything extra or deciding on a specific menu. Absolutely no cooking.”
My friend had done this insane dinner experiment in Canada where she was living before I met her, and it worked. I can’t deny it, a no-fuss dinner party with little work sounded incredible. I was intrigued. The skeptical side of me, though, thought we would have a house full of crying kids, starving and annoyed friends, and a huge mess, but I was willing to give it a try.
We sent out the email.
The first night, four families showed up: 10 children and 8 adults.
Everyone arrived carrying a bag and an apology, feeling ashamed they didn’t provide something exciting. Everyone was a little weary, but it turned out amazing. It was a feast. I smiled and laughed the entire night.
This was our first meal: black olives, a loaf of bread, cashews, blocks of various cheeses, apples, oranges, some leftover pasta salad that fed many and was wonderful, black beans, salsa, corn chips, wine, rice, hummus, crackers, a green salad already mixed from the lunch before but perfect for new eyes, tomato soup, oreos, and half a cake.
Spread out and put on lovely pottery plates, it could have been photographed for Pinterest (way before Pinterest and insane photo expectations existed). The meal was sublime, especially since I didn’t cook anything, plus no one left hungry. The kitchen was a mess afterwards, but all the adults pitched in, giving us a chance to do a collective activity and get to know one another as we worked. The kids, some new friends and some old friends, had a blast running around in the backyard and chalking on the sidewalk. I felt renewed.
That simple standing dinner created new relationships that I still maintain 14 years later. If you can open your house and let go of judgment, you can have a simple dinner too. Don’t worry about the logistics. Just set the time aside and designate one person’s house. If you are doing this for the first time, use your own house as the meeting place. Yes, you might need to change the host house some day; but in the beginning, keep it simple.