There’s a group of friends that I have from college that gets together for monthly dinner parties. Believe it or not this wasn’t my idea. It was the boys’ idea – which makes me all sorts of giddy on the inside. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been doing it for over a year now.
Not only is it a great excuse to sit down and eat a delicious meal andan awesome break to the week, but sometimes it provides a space for that much needed real conversation that you want to have. Conversation that’s deeper than the weather and deeper than what you did last weekend. Which, for somebody who is currently spending two days a week in transit not talking to anyone at all, is super duper appreciated.
Today I wanted to provide some tips for you about how we make it happen and why we’ve been able to stick to it for a whole year. Let me know if you decide to start a monthly dinner party of your own, I’d love to hear about how it goes.
One person cooks at a time
This is probably one of the reasons it’s been so easy to keep going, only one person cooks at a time. It’s not a potluck, you’re not required to make one dish every month. You cook once, and then get to be spoiled many times before you have to cook again. We even split up the couples in the group, every person has to cook their own meal. And then everybody else brings beverages.
Keep it small
Our group right now ranges from 4 to 6 people depending on the month, significant others, and who happens to be in town. It’s a manageable-sized group. If you’re buying meat it won’t totally break the bank. It’s a small enough group that you can plate some of the food beforehand and keep it in your fridge. And it’s a small enough group that you can fit everybody at one table.
Make it fun and keep it interesting
We have a hashtag that we use to capture the meals (#wepretendtobecooks). One friend always tries to cook a new ethnicity of food – and he’s the only person I know in life who took on the challenge of cooking calamari. Another friend watches a heck of a lot of cooking shows, so he’s always got something fun up his sleeve.
When it is your turn to cook, plan ahead
We decided early on that when it’s your turn to cook you are respoonsible for having an appetizer, entree, and dessert, which has definitely been a fun challenge. Menu planning is new to me, so the first time I was definitely stressed out, but then it got better. Think about things like if you’re having a heavy meal, you probably want a light entree and light dessert. Think about what produce is in season. Ask your guests if they have any dietary restrictions ahead of time. And if you know you’re going to be low on time, find something that can sit in the crockpot all day.
Schedule the next one before you leave
This is probably the key to why we’ve been able to keep it going so long. Every dinner, right before the first person goes to leave, we all pull out our phones and find the next date – whether it’s two weeks away or two months away we want to make sure we have it on the calendar. This way even if you have to cancel you still need to reach out to everybody to let them know, which inevitably leads to choosing the next date.
So what now? I recommend you call up four of your closest friends and find a way to make it happen. At least get the first one on your calendar and see where it goes from there. And think about all the delicious food you’ll get to eat along the way.
PS. If you have a chance I’d really appreciate it if you could take the 2016 Chrystina Noel survey. It’ll help me create even better content.