Do we overthink dinner parties?

Every few weekends or so, I get a call from Heath around 4:00 on Saturday afternoon that goes something like this..."What are yall doing tonight?  Do yall have anything going on?"  Me: "No we're just putting Virginia to bed and hanging out here if you guys want to come over."  Her: "Oh well Andy and I are thinking about making an Italian Steak Florentine with a few sides" or "Oh well we have a bunch of stuff to make chicken and veggie kabobs" or "we're whipping up some homemade ricotta and crostini if you want to get together for cocktails."  I say yes please and they come over and take over my kitchen.  The next thing I know, a few hours later, I'm sitting around my dinner table with a really delicious meal, candles are lit, music is playing and lots of cocktails and wine are flowing.  Sometimes my parents are in town and join us, sometimes friends come by, sometimes its just us, but regardless I went from thinking I had no plans that night to having a really fun dinner party.  No fuss, no stress and just a lot of fun.

So, my question is, do we (you, me, everyone!) over think dinner parties?  I love to entertain and even though I love it I find myself not having people over nearly as often as I would like because I think I overthink it.  I plan out appetizers, have intentions for flowers that never get arranged, etc.  So, I'm rethinking what a good dinner party looks like.  I think that these are my MUSTS:  lots of flickering tea light candles (I always have tons of cheapies from Michaels at the house), music playing, lots of wine (cheap Trader Joes is fine!) on hand and ideally a stocked bar, and then just one dish that is special.  I don't think you need tons of elaborate dishes, just one really yummy item.  So what do you guys think?  What really makes the party?

~Mary Keller

Image via dustjacket from What Katie Ate


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