I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve hosted a dinner party.
Of course I feed my own family nearly every day, but what I’m talking about is having a group of eight or more people over to share a meal with.
I’ve never been much for entertaining. When I was first learning how to cook I hosted a dinner party on a first time recipe. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out quite like I expected. While my nervous breakdown was probably entertaining, my guests never came back for more.
Another time I made the mistake of serving something that needed to be cooked right before my guests sat down to eat. While they were mingling politely in the living room, I was darting around the kitchen, clanking pots and pans and screaming out curse words that would shame a sailor.
My guests didn’t stay long at that party either.
So I decided to stick with just having dinner parties with my extended family, because no matter how bad you screw it up, your family will always love you unconditionally, right?
Uh, well, hopefully, right after they’ve recovered from their bout of botulism.
But those days are in the past and I’ve learned a thing or two about cooking since then.
I decided to try it again for Thanksgiving 2012. Forgetting my past disasters at hosting dinner parties and before I knew what I was doing, I had invited my brother and his family and my parents over to celebrate Thanksgiving with us the Saturday following the observed holiday.
The week of the party Hubby considered having me committed. Fortunately, I was able to make a few items we had planned on the menu the day before, and Hubby promised to help.
After all, he was in charge of the “important” part of the meal–the turkey–because according to him, “meat is the man’s job.”
I put my Mom in charge of the gravy because, well, I’ve never made it and I didn’t want to have any more entertaining nervous breakdowns, even if it was only in front of my family.
When it was her turn to sidle up to the stove and begin the gravy, I thought she looked as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
Page 2 of 2 - “My gravy is sometimes more successful than it is at other times,” Mom said with worry lines creasing her forehead.
“Don’t worry,” I whispered to her. “We can secretly strain the gravy while no one is looking. They will never know it didn’t turn out as smooth as silk.”
With Hubby in charge of the turkey - a giant turkey - the kind that cooks all day until the pop-up button pops, at which time the turkey is overdone and dry, he told me to relax–he had it under control.
Easy for him to say. He was in charge of ONE thing, albeit probably the most important thing. But seriously, how hard is it to smear a turkey with mayonnaise and plop it in the oven?
As my family sat down to dine I continued to dart around the kitchen, clanging pots and pans trying to get everything in serving dishes and placed on the table.
“Uh, do we have a spoon for the corn?” my Dad asked.
“What about forks? Do we get eating utensils?” my brother asked.
“Do you have any napkins?” my mom mentioned.
“I need something to drink out of,” my son said.
I always forget something. It’s either the main dish that’s baked itself to charcoal in the oven while I work too hard to present a breathtaking table setting or placing all the food on the table while forgetting to set place settings. I just don’t have it together when it comes to hosting dinner parties.
But ya know what? I’ve accepted that fact and I’m okay with it. After all, I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, I will NOT host anymore dinner parties–even if it is only for my family.