Happy New Year!
It's the time to make New Year's Resolutions. So how about having people over more often this year?
Many of you have seen the Panera Bread ad. It's an open letter to all kinds of people in conflict--serious, humorous, and even fantasy conflict--from Panera Bread. The letter itself is only two words for these warring factions:
(Click on the ad to so you can read who it was addressed to.)
There is something healing about breaking bread. And yet, fewer and fewer people entertain in the home anymore. According to the book Bowling Alone in the 1970s Americans entertained people in their homes 14-15 times a year, a little over once a month. In the late 1990s that number had dropped to eight times a year, a decline of 45%. I'm sure this trend has continued over the last decade.
But there are glimmers of hope. The movie Julia & Julia made entertaining in the home seem hip. Obama held a beer summit. So maybe we can all break bread or share a pint a little more often this year.
In light of this, please surf over to read Sara Dickerman's wonderful article Tuesday Night Dinner Party: 16 Key Lessons Learned From Slapdash Entertainment. Dickerman set herself the goal to entertain at home every week on Tuesday. Her goal was Walden Pond-esque:
My goal with Tuesday was to see whether I could strip entertaining down to its hospitable essence and stop worrying about all the things that were imperfect about my home, my cooking, and my behavior.After eight months of this practice the lessons and advice Dickerman shares is both helpful and inspirational. Here are some of my favorite lessons and advice:
2) Don’t forget Julia Child’s adage “Never apologize.” Much of this year has been about reducing the line between “company food” and “food” as we eat it from day to day. As much fun as cooking is, it’s important to remember that dinner parties should also be about making a connection with friends, even if the food isn’t that polished. That means that it’s OK to serve your friends a bowl of chili, or a grilled cheese sandwich, or even order out for pizza if everything else is just too much.You can find more of Sara's writing at her blog.
3) Chaos is OK. This is the great humbling lesson, of course, of parenthood—not everything can be controlled. If you invite families into your house for dinner, bedtimes will be stretched, toys will be snatched, and popsicles will occasionally make an unholy mess. I learned that it’s more important to check in with our friends over dinner than it is to have a perfectly timed meal, or impeccably sourced organic carrots, or an uncluttered dining room table.
15) Say yes to help. You don’t have to make it a potluck, but willing friends can make it easier for you to entertain. It’s in their interest. So say yes to the proffered wine, or dessert, or best of all, dishwashing help.
16) And the most important thing I’ve learned this year is to carry on. I started entertaining on Tuesdays, admittedly because it is an inconvenient day, but in a funny way, it’s often less complicated to get people to commit to a weeknight dinner party—there are fewer out-of-town trips and conflicting events. No matter what day you plan to have people over, do it ever so slightly more often than is convenient. Entertaining definitely gets easier with practice.