I used to hesitate to invite friends over. it wasn’t out of shame because I keep my place clean and organized even though it’s small. But having friends over and cooking dinner for more than 2 people? The idea of making appetizers, meals, and desserts in one night worried me.
Until I went to a couple’s party last year. The wife is Danish. Their condo is not huge but she keeps it open, bright, and comfortable. I asked her many times about the secret of keeping the house clean and charming. She just laughed and said: “Just throw away things that don’t fit in your life.”
She invited 10 people for the dinner. When I arrived, she greeted me with a glass of red, and some cheeses and fruits from the local market.
Dinner was soon ready. There was potato salad, and asparagus with tomatoes and goat cheese. The main course was oven-baked salmon with lemon and dill. She also had a warm multi-grain loaf sliced with butter going around the dinner table.
That was it. Nothing fancy. Nothing overwhelming. But it was the best party experience I’ve ever had.
The food was simple and delicious. The atmosphere was relaxing and enjoyable. I knew only 3 people out of 10 that night but I felt completely comfortable to talk to those I didn’t know. My brain was full of pleasure and detoxified, like going to a SPA. The room was filled with warm, homey, friendly and welcoming. We mingled and chatted. No one was left out.
I was not sure if the others felt like I did that night, or it was just me loving the casual vibes, or the way I told myself: this is what my parties are going to be like.
I have one principle to follow when I invite friends over so I don’t feel overworked or pressured: minimize the effort.
In other words, pick ONE part of the dinner and focus on it. If I want to go fancy on a real-deal main course, for example roasted lamb shoulder with two different sauces, then I make the salad simple and easy. If I want to show off my new baking recipe for dessert, then I go easy on the meal.
Also don’t be afraid to ask friends to bring something small, like fresh fruits. It makes the party preparation easier.
After all, friends are not here to judge but spend time together.