Friday, October 4, 2013

Weeknight Dinner Guests

Recently we had some friends over for dinner on a week night, and it was a lot of fun. Yet, if I'm being honest, getting ready for people to come over while my husband is at work and I am aided by three more willing than able indentured servants can be stressful. Thank goodness that practice has helped things get smoother over the last few years. I was thinking about this fact last week as things went off (mostly) without a hitch.  I want to share with you a few of my learned lessons. And please, hit me in the combox with yours! I love learning others' helpful secrets!

My first suggestion is to change your expectations and remember that hospitality is not perfection. The point of hospitality, opening your home and table to others, is about to making them feel comfortable and loved. And while knowing that your fridge is finger print free might make you feel more comfortable, it's probably not a deciding factor for anyone else. That being said, here are seven practical tips to keep in mind.  

Set the table earlier in the day. Do this before crunch time occurs. Make sure that glasses are streak free, that you have the correct amount of cutlery, etc, etc.

Fill glasses beforehand with a lot of ice and a little water. 

Set a carafe of water on the table. This allows easy refills without you running to and fro through dinner.

Put the appropriate serving dishes and serving ware on the table when you set it. This way, you aren't scrambling to find that rarely used platter at the last minute, and you don't forget to serve a dish you prepared earlier (surprisingly yes, this can actually happen!).

Place trivets on the table for any dishes that will be served hot.

Keep the table setting simple. Save the elaborate schemes for the weekend, or better yet, when your sister is visiting! A tablecloth, a few flowers, a votive or two, and you have a look that is as elegant as it is simple and quick.

Make food beforehand, if possible. Don't create oven time/temperature conflicts by attempting a complicated cheesecake that finishes right at dinner time. Make cookies the day before. Use a slow cooker for the main dish so that there is plenty of down time between food prep and dinnertime. This allows you to do last minute tidying or comfort a clingy baby.

Ready for dinner.
Votives in jars and a few blooms make a simple centerpiece that is low enough to talk over.
The kids picked  sprig of sage for each place setting.
Oatmeal cookies are the perfect make ahead dessert. They taste even better the next day.
Pot roast is a great dish because you prepare it, throw it in the oven, and then have hours ...


  1. looks beautiful and yummy, enjoyed reading this, Mary!

  2. I agree that make-ahead dishes are key. Actually, I agree with all your tips. Well done!

    1. Thank you, Sarah! Have a great weekend!

  3. My mother woul always set the table in advance and I've begun to do the same. It is great for avoiding that last minute frantic run around to get all in order.


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