Friday, April 9, 2010

How to Host a Family Dinner Party Without Driving Yourself Crazy

Family dinner parties are great, and important, but they can end up driving you crazy.  And when I say “you”, I mean “me”.  If you’re the person who’s always in charge of family meals at your house, then you know what I mean.  It’s wonderful to see friends and family gathered around the table enjoying a meal together, but often the host or hostess has no fun at all.  My grandmother was this person, my mom is this person, and I see that this is the person I have become.  So I’m going to try to buck tradition and find a way to make family meals less taxing and dare I say, enjoyable for all concerned. 

During my bachelorette days, my friends were my only “family” within 3,000 miles and I had a close circle of friends who helped me celebrate all the important occasions in my life, including birthdays and holidays.  Even a good tv show was enough for me to invite friends over for a weekly dinner party that ran as long as the new episodes held out.  I also hosted an annual Christmas party, which was always a crowd-pleaser, if I do say so myself.  I tried to cultivate an air of festive elegance at these events, laced with 1950’s cocktail party insanity. Hanky-panky, anyone?  Yes, I did say this to each of my guests when I was single, passing around a platter of hot, spicy appetizers named, you guessed it, “hanky pankies” (recipe courtesy of my mother’s 1970’s era recipe file.)  I loved hosting these parties and my friends still tell me they think about my annual Christmas party longingly when the holiday season rolls around.  I had one last party after I got married, but after I started having babies, the Christmas party was too much to handle.  Just thinking about the days of food preparation made my head spin.  (When should I slice my dad’s country ham?  Are one hundred homemade rolls enough?  Should I turn the crock-pot of sweet and sour meatballs on at 4 pm or 5 pm?  These thoughts still make me sweat a little bit.)