Few things strike fear in the hearts and homes of most people like an “unannounced pop-in” from friends or family. And while I totally agree with the nerve-cringing inappropriateness of self-invitations, I feel compelled to argue the case for the value of a spontaneous and last-minute get-together. Entertaining can be easy and fun!
So often, I hear friends say that they would love to entertain more, BUT...”but my home isn’t nice/big/decorated well enough”…”but I am not a great cook”…”but I am just so busy all week”…”but all the best weekends are already booked up.” The list goes on! And the real shame is that most of us would love to just be invited. We crave in-person interaction with friends. We want to get to know each other better. We, too, have a million excuses—and fears—that prevent us from extending an invitation.
In my experience, some of my favorite gatherings have developed on the spur-of-the-moment. What, after all, is better than having your most recent Netflix binge interrupted by a surrounding of family or friends, laughing (perhaps even crying) and, above all, making memories with each other? Not only can entertaining be easy, here is the real secret of a spontaneous get-together—the expectations for the host are LOW!
Think about that for a second! If you send out a text or call on a weekend afternoon for dinner or drinks in a couple of hours, everyone knows that you didn’t take a week of vacation time to prepare. Your guests will, more than anything else, be grateful that you thought about them and showed them that you want to see them. They will be glad that the party is at your house, and they won’t care whether that party—or that house—is perfect. Everyone just wants to be with one another.
If you are brave enough (and I KNOW you are!), here are a few ideas:
This is a tried, but true, method. Assign dishes to different guests. More often than not, your guests will offer to bring something. Go ahead and take them up on it. If you have a little bit of lead time, you can even come up with a theme and let your guests be creative.
Go Out First:
Meet at a near-by restaurant for dinner, then have your friends to your house for dessert afterwards. This engenders much less stress, much less time, but no less fun than a full dinner.
Wine and Cheese:
On a recent spur of the moment Saturday-night gathering at my house, I honestly only provided the space (and some wine). One friend stopped on the way for a cheese and meat board, another friend put together a veggie tray, we ordered pizza for our teenagers, and voila! Instant party.
Online delivery services add more restaurants by the day. You could plan a full event—from the most casual to the most formal—completely from food delivery services. Take advantage of the things that make our lives easier.
I hope that you feel inspired to gather friends and family around and enjoy a laid-back night of entertaining. Share food, drink, and memories. And, most of all, enjoy! Cheers!