Secrets to a Successful Dinner Party: The Mishaps

Mini Bailey’s cheesecakes. They taste even better than they look.

After all the careful planning, invitations, prep work and factoring in everyone’s dietary needs, even the best laid plans can go off the rails. The key, however, is to go with the flow. That is it. Don’t panic. Ever. Not even when your friend reaches across the table and breaks a wine glass into the giant plate of lamb. (Yes, that happened. It was still a successful dinner party. We were nearly done with dinner, and there was tons of other food. I have not let him live that down, but we do laugh about it.) Several weeks ago, we had invited a bunch of people over for dinner, as a “thank you” for helping us get our house built, our last

Itty bitty gazpacho shots.

house sold, and generally being there for us throughout the process. There were to be twelve people at dinner. Several days before I learned that one of our friends was having knee surgery and would be in the hospital the evening of the dinner party. His partner, however, was coming. The day before the party, I learned that one couple would not be able to make it. We were down to nine. I had enough food for twenty.

Chocolate pots de creme.

Nonetheless, I forged ahead with an overly fussy menu, not the least of which were three desserts including lemon bars, mini Bailey’s cheesecakes and chocolate pots de crème. But before that, there was a multi-course meal to serve. As soon as the last (always late) guest arrived, we were sitting down for dinner. In walks the last guest – who had just proposed to his girlfriend the week before, and I was looking forward to catching up with her – with a friend he had been fishing with all day. Oops. So now we were down three, and had a last minute substitution. Cause for concern? Nope. Certainly there would be enough food, and the fishing buddy? Well, he would just have to go with the flow. And he did, graciously helping me to serve each course. I did still miss the girlfriend-turned-fiancé, but there was nothing to be done at that moment except hope that the newcomer was a nice guy. Fortunately, we had nothing to worry about there. Any time we have a dinner party, regardless of size, I make a list with the menu, shopping list and to do list. The menu stays out and

Because, apparently, you cannot just have dessert.

visible for the evening, so I don’t forget anything. Despite the comprehensive lists, I always forget something. Sometimes it can be an entire vegetable. This time it was the candied pecans I had made to top our arugula, watermelon and Feta salad. The salads were delicious, despite the lack of nuts. But the nuts did not go to waste, as they were served in a bowl alongside the other desserts. I could have been really upset about some of these things, but why? It is so much easier to just go with the flow. Besides, had I not announced that the nuts should have been on the salad, nobody would have known, and they still would have liked the salad.