I've become a little obsessed with scruffy hospitality or as the Kitchn calls it, a “crappy dinner party“. The notion invites simplicity into life, so naturally as an oft-harried adult, I love it. The idea behind these get-togethers is to spend time sharing a yummy meal with people you adore without all the usual dinner party stress over cleaning the house and elaborate meal planning.
As usual, when I think something is amazing, I talk about it with whoever will listen. I even emailed Julie from Logan & Finley because I wanted her thoughts on how I could plan to embrace them more often. Rather than be contradictory to the idea of ‘scruffy dinners', most of the articles I've read advocate for being prepared to host more frequently by keeping a few items in your freezer or pantry that basically cook themselves and stocking up on some inexpensive but good wine.
And of course, Julie had ideas, so I went in for a visit to the store to chat about dinner parties. And pick up some items that would be practical enough for everyday use while also looking gorgeous on a table for a dinner party.
While choosing items, we shared our own experiences of what made a dinner party memorable, both agreeing that the fun part is sharing a meal and good times easily follow when the pressure to host in the traditional sense is removed. And then Julie wondered aloud how I might channel the sentiment behind crappy dinner parties into a dinner party for two, an at-home date night.
Immediately, I knew she was onto something special.
Ever since having kids, date nights involve too many steps and are too cost-prohibitive to have them on the regular. The nights my husband and I do make plans to meet on the couch to watch a movie, one of us ends up falling asleep within the first half hour or so. And when we're watching TV, we're not really connecting.
After almost 10-years of marriage, I've learned that a few hours spent together at a reasonable time of the day does much to sustain our relationship, helping us remember we are something together beyond parents.
Here are a few tips to keep a dinner party for two or more easy and fun:
Make A One-Pot Meal
Try to keep the meal to one-pot. I love the homemade but inexpensive soup from SoupGirl, that Julie suggested as a must for my pantry. I choose the Italian Rice and Lentil Soup which was flavourful and hearty, but there were several flavour options at Logan & Finley. All I did to make it was add water to the dry ingredients and let it cook while putting the kids to bed. Even after we ate a bowl and a half each of the lentil soup, there were leftovers!
Keep Everything On The Table
Bring the food to the table so no one has to leave the conversation for more, keeping the meal out invites seconds and the chance to just hang out. Drink whatever you have. This isn't a super fancy night with all the bells and whistles. Whether it's water or wine, keep it out on the table to let it flow freely.
Simplify The Tablescape
Keep the table simple with lovely cloth napkins and beeswax candles for after dark. Candles inspire intimate conversation and the beeswax provide a warm glow with a subtle scent! Best of all these items are ones you can use anytime but when placed together create a cozy tablescape.
Make Wool Blankets Available
Now that the weather is cool, place out a few wool blankets for the person who is always chilly or to move the meal to an impromptu floor picnic.
Stocking a few delicious, home-style meals in your pantry along with a few bottles of your favourite not-too-expensive wine means that a dinner party of two or more can happen at any time. Pull out the cloth napkins, light a few candles when it gets dark out, and enjoy the simplicity of connecting at home.
Disclosure: Over the next few months, Julie and I are partnering together to share stories of how to bring sustainable, local products into our everyday lives.
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