Last night was a good one. A casual dinner with friends just can't be beat, can it? I don't stand on formalities when I entertain. I try to provide an atmosphere for fun and relaxation, and the rest of the rules are pretty much folded away in the back of the "Dinner Party Rules" drawer, out of sight, out of mind. You will never come to my house and hear me worry about seating "boy, girl, boy, girl," because, among other reasons, there may not be an even number to make that work! I like having a group of people I enjoy getting together for eats and drinks. Last night it turned out to be five women and one man. That's simply who was in town and available, and no one cared!
Now that I think of it, I'm not sure I know enough men in this area to made the table "balance," anyway! And doesn't that seem contrived, as if you're matching people up? I know people who just won't have a dinner party unless they can have an even number of men and women, and always seat them alternated. Silly. And what if some of your guests are gay couples? How does that work? Just silly. I don't stand on formality, and I know a couple people who just go nuts over that! Oh, well!!
OK, enough of that.
I had a plate with Asian pears and brie, with wild mountain berry preserves sitting out to accompany the wine while I finished up the last minute details of dinner. I made cabbage rolls for the main course. I haven't made them in quite a while, and I love them. We had parsley potatoes with a little chopped green onion, and for my carb-conscious friend, some baked sweet potatoes. A tossed salad, and a couple plates of assorted complements ... dilled green beans, dilled garlic, olives stuffed with garlic or blue or feta cheese, pickled okra, candied jalapenos, and herbed baby carrots.
After dinner, some had more of the brie/pears/preserves, but I also served mini-tart shells and each person filled her/his shells with a choice of lemon, key-lime, or vanilla tart filling. These are definitely not home made. I got the shells and fillings from my favorite "goodies store," the same place where I get my wine. They have wonderful gourmet foods that I'm enjoying exploring.
We just sat at the table talking and laughing after dinner. It was a nice, relaxing time. One of my guests had arrived with a near-migraine level headache, and by the time dinner was over she seemed to be feeling fine. She got a little neck massage from another guest while I was getting dinner on the table, and that helped some, but I think the enjoyment of good friends was the final touch. By dessert we were all telling stories of our escapades over the years, and laughing about our silliness or wondering how we got by without getting caught at this or that. I loved that our age variance (from me, almost 64, to the youngest who is just a bit past 30) gave us lots to talk about in way of comparing how we grew up, as well as our differences in where we lived our younger years (from tiny towns to cities). The mixture of life experiences makes for good conversation, for sure.
I do like evening such as that. I tend to be bored when I hang out with people who are all about my age. OK, there is an exception ... I enjoy my class reunions, but that is a different kind of event ... catching up with old friends on a short term basis is tolerable. Generally speaking, I really like to mix it up with ages, genders, life experiences, whatever walks of life imaginable. I thrive on conversation with a younger person, hearing about how their lives are different from mine or with an octogenarian about his/her views. My own life is fuller for it.
So ... tell me about your preferences for socializing. What kind of event is most fun for you?