I have a very special group of girl friends who are a constant source of support and inspiration. We are all at different points in our lives (some are single, some are married with children, some are in school, and others are advancing in their careers…) and we range in age from thirty-something to forty-something (plus one awesome first grader). Catching up with these gal pals often requires an after-work event since our weekends are usually booked solid.
The thought of entertaining during the week can seem daunting, right? I mean after running around at work all day who wants to rush home, cook for a crowd, and entertain late into the evening? I do! I have learned that there are a lot of advantages to hosting a mid-week gathering….friends are usually available on relatively short notice, dinners are more relaxed and casual, and the conversations can be really therapeutic (during the week friends tend to vent important work and school challenges and they look to the group for help brainstorming solutions…it’s creative and cathartic). At Entertaining Family, we believe that the key to hosting a successful weekday event is keeping everything really manageable. I’m the queen of
lazy…oops, I mean…easy entertaining, and I’m happy to share some of my simple weekday strategies with you (the biggest one rhymes with rock-pot)!
Theme: Fall has Arrived!
Number of Guests: 6
Advanced Notice: A Few Days
In Milwaukee, fall is certainly in the air. The days are getting shorter, the maple trees are changing color, and the wind is getting crisp. For me, as the cool autumn breezes blow, life is all about getting cozy! It’s a time to make comforting food, wrap up in soft fabrics, and fill the house with warm colors. I used this season of change as the inspiration for my dinner party. Creating a cozy retreat for my friends was just what I wanted to do.
For this party, the tablescape was influenced by my dining room chairs (a little strange, I know, but take a look below…they are really lovely). I pulled the oranges, golds, and blues right from the upholstery. At each place, I used soft, grey felt mats as the foundation for the setting and then layered square dishes, soup bowls, gold napkins, and stemware on top – all keeping with my color scheme. I created simple and streamlined centerpieces by placing large orange chrysanthemums in rectangular vases.
Because at every dinner party guests seem to gather in the kitchen, I wanted to create a special centerpiece for our island. In my garden, our fall blooms are going wild…particularly our pink and purple asters. They are gorgeous and plentiful! Before our guests arrived, I headed out back with a clippers and put together a charming little bouquet.
I kept the menu as simple as possible while building robust flavors:
Appetizer: Gluten-Free Flat Bread with Vegan Pesto and Sun Dried Tomatoes
Main Dish: Vegan Minestrone Soup Made in the Crock-Pot (which simmered for 8 hours while I was busy living life)
Dessert: Gluten-Free, Vegan Berry Crumble (made by my six-year-old daughter)
Drink: Fall Sangria with Chardonnay, Apple Cider, Gala Apples and Cinnamon
A mid-week dinner party can be incredibly easy and stress-free if you keep all of the components simple. Cooking “by crock-pot” is one of the easiest ways to go. There is nothing more rewarding that putting a bunch of beautiful, raw ingredients into a slow cooker and coming home, hours later, to a finished meal. It also makes the house smell divine, adding to that cozy entertaining atmosphere.
During the week you don’t need to create a large number of courses…I find that an appetizer, main dish and dessert are just perfect! And a signature cocktail that incorporates the party theme is always fun.
My life is centered around my dining room table…and at the end of the day, it’s not about how tasty the meal was or how pretty the centerpiece looked, it’s about spending quality time with the people I love.