Dinner parties are on the decline in Washington D.C., says Washington Post columnist and former White House social secretary Lea Berman in her August 6, 2011 column titled “Fewer dinners means meaner politics.” Berman, who was social secretary during the Bush administration, 2005-2007, says “Washington doesn’t go to dinner anymore and it’s bad for the country.”
This is not good. I admire Obama and his gorgeous wife, Michelle, and can’t imagine any couple who would be better hosts. Still, after one of Obama’s typical days, a dinner party might be a bit much.
I would like Berman to know that dinner parties are alive and well at my house in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. I hold about one every 4-6 weeks, not out of a compulsion to prepare elaborate meals or one up my neighbors. I do it for the reasons Berman suggests– when you sit across from a small group of people for three hours talking and eating, friendships are born.
Besides that, the trend for entertaining at home is becoming increasingly popular, particularly as the recession/recovery continues. With celebrity chefs and TV programs inspiring us to try and recreate a fine dining experience in the comfort of our own home, the pressure to deliver gourmet meals can be very high. Ignore the pressure and just make what you know will taste good. If you’re at a loss, here is a sample menu you might try: Grilled Asian Flank Steak, sweet slaw, mashed potatoes, green beans, french bread, Pinot Noir and easy key lime pie
Remember, it isn’t all about the food anyway, it’s the conversation and the time together. Sometimes, when people don’t know each other that well, the conversation centers on mundane topics like pets, trips or someone’s children. This is fine for a while, but as the host or hostess, you have the responsibility to steer the conversation in an interesting direction. I like to pose a few “Vanity Fair” questions (the last page of the magazine always features an interview with a prominent person. The questions are fantastic).
The more you learn about each other, the more quickly the relationship progresses. Dinner parties aren’t about creating a masterpiece in the kitchen, they’re about forging a friendship around the table. So give it a try. Market yourself and others over a glass of wine and dinner.
P.S. When entertaining, please don’t worry about cleaning the entire house. Just tidy up the few rooms the guests will be in, particularly the powder room. Then you’re ready.
About the Author: Maureen Fischer is QuirkyMarketing’s author and resident conversationalist. She provides content marketing–both strategy and execution–to clients in a range of industries.
Obama dinner photo by Artur ‘TAUTER’ Taurus
Moth to a flame Photo by jαγ △