This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
It had been absolutely ages since we had any friends round for a dinner party. Partly because it is so expensive to cater for a crowd these days. Even if I economise on the nosh, Husband insists on serving the finest wine we can (or can’t) afford). And partly because I get a bit miffed because so many guests these days don’t send a thank you letter/text/email, never mind reciprocate your hospitality.
Husband says I am mean minded and shouldn’t think about who returns the favour, but I am all for fairness. Anyhow, we compromised by agreeing to try one pot suppers (like the Lamb Shanks Extraordinaire recipe) with some drinkable plonk. This satisfied my husband’s craving to have lots of people over and mine for frugality in these uncertain times.
We had the first pared down get together a few weeks ago. I stuck to my guns. Instead of a special trip to the local upmarket cheese shop, I bought just one large slab of unpasteurised Brie from my local butcher. No visit to the wine shop either. There was a 25% off six bottles of pretty decent wine at the supermarket.
I was on a mission to keep the evening simple. Surely some home cooked food, lashings of good plonk and well-matched guests are all the ingredients we need for a fun supper party? Well, that’s what I thought until about 24 hours before the event.
Which is why I found myself uncorking the good wine we’ve been hoarding. Then making fiddly canapes and chilling champagne. I agonised over a seating plan. Added an extra course. Polished the silver plated cutlery. Washed and ironing the linen napkins.
Despite all my pragmatic intentions, the day arrived and I found myself glued to the Aga for a good part of the evening, missing all the fun and gossip. No, no, no! That wasn’t my plan. My kitchen supper had developed into a full blown dinner party. And it was all my own fault!
Once again I missed being updated on all my lovely friends’ news because I was constantly dashing between table and kitchen. By the time I’d served coffee and chocolates and finally flopped into my seat, everyone else at the table was, well, a bit squiffy.
So I found myself listening to rather silly jokes (everyone else at the table ROARING WITH LAUGHTER) and me looking bemused. Or trapped, listening to someone waffle on as they were poured yet another large glass. Even the ones who were driving and therefore not drinking, were engaged in earnest conversation and I felt it was slightly rude of me to try and butt in when they were obviously oblivious of everyone else. Some (seemingly interminable) time later, everyone got up and left.
After goodbyes, where I had to apologise for hardly having spoken with anyone during the evening, it was time to clear up the debris. Finally collapsed into bed at 3am, exhausted and, to the clunk and whirr of the overworked dishwasher, found myself dreaming of simple suppers.
Don’t make the same mistakes as me! Read my top tips for stress-free supper parties