It wasn't terribly long ago that The New York Times wrote a trend piece on the end of the dinner party. According to the Times, no one was having them anymore and we shouldn't expect them to come back. And like most New York Times trend pieces I read, I found it to be completely off the mark. Apparently, we're all too busy on our mobile phones to respond to an invitation or something, which is as tired an argument as ever.
But if folks have really given up on entertaining, the news certainly hasn't spread to my group of friends -- I have five parties on the calendar since New Year's and counting. But maybe we aren't calling them dinner parties anymore and are instead inviting friends for hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and good conversation. There's something special about welcoming friends into your home and showing them a good time. And in the dead of winter, it adds a bright spot to the week when we're all coming off of the social holiday season.
A cocktail party doesn't need to be fancy or over-involved to warrant hosting. I like to try and keep it simple and cheap. My glogg party this weekend will include mulled wine, a non-alcoholic drink, two homemade items and a few assembled from store-bought ingredients. I'll dim the overhead lights and light some candles because it makes everyone look good and feel cozy. And I'll turn on some music. That's about it.
As for my entertaining tips, I really only have one: Never, ever underestimate the power of a good cheese board. If you want some actually helpful entertaining tips, I've found this video to be full of great ideas as a not-too-serious take on party planning.
All in all, if you're lucky, everyone will have a good night and your friends won't mind when you pull out your knitting while chatting and sipping wine. And If you're really lucky, they'll be knitting, too.