Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just a Meal Please, part 2

This is the fifth of many hospitality posts.  We are talking about hospitality in a series, if you are just joining us here are the previous thoughts on this issue.

In our previous post, all we talked about was getting an extra table and chairs to have people over for a meal.  What next?

Who should we start with?  My advice is this: start with someone easy.  An older couple with no kids at home is a great place to start!  Some couple who is about the age of your parents are going to be especially easy to entertain for one meal.  Here's why: They will actually probably help you out and give you encouragement along the way.  I have personally learned so much from the guests we have had in our home, while they taught us (indirectly) how to be a host and hostess.  I'm sure they had to veil their glory in order to make it look like we were serving them.  

Here is the progression of guests from easiest to hardest:

1. couple (older) with no children or health concerns
2. single person
3. couple your own age (no children)
4. couple with older children
5. older (infirm) couple or special needs
6. younger couple with children (small amount)
7. younger couple with many children
8. any amount of children in more than one family
9. any combination of anyone...

This is my opinion.  Your list may be different than mine also.  I've listed it this way so you can work up the scale from easiest to hardest.  Once you've gained confidence in one area, it is easier to go to the next level.  

What to serve for dinner: The actual dish itself isn't as important as the way you feel cooking it.  If you are going to be completely stressed out over the details of cooking, it is just better to have something simple, tasty and well rehearsed.  If you are an experienced cook and love trying new things, go for it.  Some people are really dependent on five or six "company foods" that they always serve for guests.  That is fine, if that is what you like to do.  

What do I serve?  Well, I think I have a PHD in "winging it" in the kitchen, and I rarely plan ahead for guests. I usually just serve a bigger quantity of whatever I would make for dinner.  It wasn't always this way.

I usually sat down with the cookbooks and carefully planned out a meal.  I've been doing this non-stop for 18 years now, but my first couple of years were a little more "planned".  The basic idea is this: you should feel comfortable with the food you are serving so you don't need to make endless excuses or apologies for it.  Just smile and serve.  

Things to think about:

1. Ask your guests ahead of time if they have food allergies, likes or dislikes, or any special needs.

2. Set up a time and confirm the time on the day of the meal.  Some people can forget!  Life gets busy, you know. 

3.  Enjoy the meal!  It's good food.  People enjoy a relaxed hostess, so try to enjoy yourself. 

What Works for you? More here at:  


momstheword said...

Great post. You're right we're all different. I always thought having people over with their children was always very easy...but, well, very noisy, lol!

It's nice to have a company "meal." Removes the stress factor. During summer it's also nice to BBQ!

momstheword said...

BTW, I am now following you on twitter!

Jena Webber said...

You know, I think having kids over is easy also, but I was thinking of the newly married couple without children yet, or the family who is overwhelmed with their own children. It takes a little more planning to have kids over, so that's why I listed it as harder. I was thinking highchairs, babyrails, potty chairs, etc. babyproofing, etc. when you don't have children already could get kind of complicated.

momstheword said...

oh yeah, if you're just married you probably don't want to do that for awhile. At least, we didn't.

So you're right, the older and the single work great!

Mrs. Parunak said...

Great post. I think the easiest might be people who are at the same stage in their family as you are. That way, you really understand each other and are all set up for the experience (child proofing, toys, etc.), and the conversation is easier because you have so much in common. I love having young, growing/largish families over because that is what we are. I'm not on pins and needles about what will happen if my toddler wets her pants, or if my older kids forget to use their "table voices," etc. When we were first married, of course, it was easiest to have other couples over.