I almost feel like dinner parties are a lost art. I can think of several movies (You’ve Got Mail and Christmas with the Kranks are coming to mind at the moment) where characters come together for an evening of games, drinks, and food, and usually end up around one instrument or another with everyone singing.
Was this ever actually a thing? I can’t think of a single gathering I’ve attended in my lifetime that followed that script. Maybe I just don’t know a lot of musical people.
At any rate, it certainly feels like throwing a good dinner party is a matter of more than opening a case of beer and ordering some pizzas (although, let’s be honest, there’s a time and a place for that as well).
Ms. Van der Post devotes whole sections of her book to food and parties and underscores the fact that to do it right, you do need to “take a little trouble.” However, that doesn’t mean losing your mind over elaborate hors d’oeuvres or serving up an entrée that requires culinary training. She even condones ordering takeout if you’re willing to plate and garnish it yourself. (Hide the packaging, she says, and no one need ever know!)
Day 7 of Vlogmas coincided with me hosting an evening holiday celebration with family. I decided to take a little more trouble than ordering out, and put together the following:
Wine. Always wine.
A cheeseboard with French bread, Irish cheddar, blueberry Stilton, and Wensleydale cheese with cranberries (all from the cheese counter at my grocery store)
This chicken recipe, which I found on Pinterest and was a breeze to put together
Roasted Brussels sprouts (my own “recipe”)*
Peanut butter fudge no-bake cookies for dessert (picked up in a box at my grocery store’s bakery)
Dinner was a hit. Everyone had seconds, which I think might be the most genuine form of compliment when it comes to food.
Van der Post’s other tips are to make your home feel as generous as possible. Use good soaps and linens in the guest bath, and make sure it’s clean. Attention to accommodations like these can make all the difference.
Check out Vlogmas Day 7 for how I implemented her tips!
I ended up combining Days 7 and 8 because I didn’t get as much footage for Day 7 as I’d have liked. I spent Day 8 of Vlogmas sharing some of the things that I ordinarily to do prepare for the week ahead, and I’m not talking food prep.
One way Ms. Van der Post says to work and have a life is to simplify things where you can and reduce stressors. For me, preparation is key. Looking ahead so I know what I’ve got coming for the week, what I need to have done by when and so forth is extremely helpful in keeping me calm and level-headed throughout the week. If I have time to tidy up from the weekend so I can go into Monday with a clean slate, all the better. And of course, there should always be time to decompress with ice cream and some Mario Kart. :o)
Thanks for staying tuned in during my 12 Days of Vlogmas. Please subscribe if you haven’t already, I love to see when you’re enjoying my posts!
*The Brussels Sprout Recipe
Trim and cut sprouts in half
Toss in olive oil so they’re lightly coated
Sprinkle with salt and pepper
Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and lay sprouts on top in one layer
Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 375’F. It should be easy to put a fork through them when they’re done.
Remove from oven and toss immediately with shredded (not grated!) Parmesan
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