Way back in January this year I met some people at a conference. After discussing some of the stands we had all visited, we went for a drink and got on like a house on fire. After a couple of nights out with these new friends, I invited them and their partners over for dinner.
That was around 9 months ago. Last week a date was finally set for them to come to my house and taste my home cooking. It didn’t dawn on me until the day before that although I knew these people pretty well in the pub, I didn’t know them at all within the cosy context of my own home. We had talked loudly over the music in pubs, and had laughed excessively while sharing funny and exciting stories. We had never been to each other’s houses for a quiet chat however, or shared the level of intimacy that comes with it.
I didn’t know their partners at all. Despite us being somewhat rowdy when we were “out and about”, I started to worry. What would happen if there was a stony uncomfortable silence when we were all trapped together in my home with no distractions?
But then I thought: we always had fun together when we met up. I should be able to make this dinner fun too!
Choosing a Theme
I decided to choose a theme for the party to focus and simplify matters. I went for an old classic – Around the World. For each course I would serve a dish from different country and play music to match it, which would hopefully stir up a lively conversation or two especially amongst my unacquainted guests.
For the starter I served a hearty French chestnut soup while we listened to the wonderful Edith Piaf. Somehow we ended up discussing the French philosopher Sartre. His central idea is that “people are condemned to be free”
I not being pretentious by the way! I have just read Sophie’s World! If you haven’t read it then you really should: it’s a wonderful beginner’s guide to philosophy.
The main course was a delicious Persian Chicken with orange, cardamom and pan roasted peppers accompanied with saffron rice while some of my favourite Persian CDs played. The food and music inspired my guests to ask me more about my first hand experiences from that part of the world.
The gorgeous dessert was Cranachan from Scotland. While Tommy Reilly played (a Scottish musician my son recommended) the conversation turned to Robert Burns and why his poetry is so amazing/hard to read!
All evening I made sure the topic of conversation never turned to anything controversial. A dinner party is for fun, not arguments after all! A great time was had by all and by the end we all felt super-intellectual too!
Inviting new friends into your home can be intimidating regardless of how experienced at entertaining you are. Preparing a simple theme may feel like over-thinking it, but it really can help break the ice and make your party great fun.
For all above recipes and more party themes see “How To Entertain Beautifully”