Energetic Entertaining

March 27th

I’m having a small dinner party this weekend and am a wee bit excited. Here is my problem: I entertain rather infrequently, but love doing so. When I have people over, I tend to get a bit worked up and just plain silly. The meal is days away and yet I know what I’ll serve, how I’ll set the table, what I’ll wear, the music, the wine, etc.
Crazy — right?
Do you ever find yourself going helplessly overboard and yet not knowing how to stop? I feel myself starting to plan down to the last detail, full well knowing from the outside I must look bonkers. {Gift bags, for example. Who gives gifts at a dinner party? I have the sneaking suspicion this is too much. Then again, I don’t care. See, I have a great idea…} I feel like Bree VanDerkamp has taken over, with a prissy coif and all — although I’m nicer. I swear.

Reversible market tote, 2

I get such a kick from pulling entertaining ideas from magazines and watching them come to life. I love the idea of serving a great meal on pretty plates in a clean home with the quintessential Hollywood homemaker soundtrack playing in the background. And well, if that sounds bonkers, then so be it.

Reversible market tote

This week, my new reversible market tote will be filled with ingredients for my African-themed feast: peanut soup over rice, piri piri shrimp, banana leaves for koki, coconut, avocado and mangoes, South African reisling and Tusker. I may need two totes.

I should fall back on my mama’s wise advice: live like it doesn’t matter what others think. Life is too short to worry about spoiling your friends.


Posted in
CAOK, Domestic Art, Journal, June Cleaver
Follow the comments.

41 Responses

  1. Oh please, you should have seen me last week before the birthday party. Never knowingly undercatered, that’s me – I send people off with food parcels, never mind doggy bags (or indeed gift bags.) But it was the first time I’d had people over in so so long and I’m so glad I did it!

    As long as you’re having fun doing all the planning, just go for it! Personally I’m planning Easter now…

  2. I have had Tusker! In Kenya even! It tastes like beer! Which means to me that most beers taste alike, and I don’t really care as long as as it is wet and at least cool. When I was in Belgium a few years ago, I always ordered the local beer. It was cheaper than the bottled water they give you, and you get more of it!

    We had pizza parties two weekends in a row — one for my son’s birthday, and one for a dinner group from church. It is always a popular meal, and I keep it informal. Love it when the folks from the dinner group bring the other courses!

    Party on!

  3. Ms Lala March 27, 2007

    “Life is too short to worry about spoiling your friends”…very true but so much fun when you do!! I get worked up like that when it comes to prepping things for my daughter like Easter Baskets/Pails, Christmas stockings, birthday goodie bags for one year olds, and ornately decorated cupcakes for my french class. I know it’s too much but I like to let my daughter and friends know that I appreciate them a great deal. Others may frown upon it, but hey it makes me feel happy and I love seeing their reactions. So hey do whatever floats your boat! Afterall this life is yours to live as you please and if overdoing it every now and again makes you happy, then so be it!

  4. AK asks: Do you ever find yourself going helplessly overboard and yet not knowing how to stop?

    Um, hello? That’s the kind of crazy I used to see in the mirror every day! (and that’s why I became a hermit!)

    Your reversible market tote is lovely – as is your menu and your attention to detail! πŸ™‚

  5. I love your tote, Kelli, it’s really great!

    As to the entertaining issue, you already know how I feel about it (just look at my Flickr photos). To me, entertaining is a way to show people you love them. I always give gifts because they enjoy receiving them and I enjoy giving them. Everything I do in conjunction with a party is thought out way ahead of time. Maybe I’m OCD or something, but going to the extra effort to make things lovely and offer a beautiful presentation is also a sign of respect to my guests as well as to myself. No detail is too tiny to consider and effect. So, go for it, Kelli, and enjoy your dinner party–I’m positive it will be fabulous and everyone will feel your love and respect for them.

  6. Hope you have a good time!

    I am sure things will go well for your party.

  7. Um, planning vacations in an Excel spreadsheet w/ hotlinks and exact costs built into the calendar? No, I know nothing about planning until I’m insane.

  8. It sounds like you are planning a fabulous dinner party. I’m not sure if there is such a thing as going overboard. I think women tend to do that.

    Great totes!

  9. That’s it, I’m coming down!

  10. OMG, I want to go to a Kelli dinner party…that bag is soooo cute! So you are a little OCD…nothing wrong with that! πŸ˜‰

  11. Love love love the tote! Very nice! The reversible idea is great. Nice colors, excellent job!

  12. Again, great job!

  13. sounds delish! and who cares if it seems you’re going overboard. i am the same way! is there any other way to be? boring!!!

  14. That menu looks amazing. And what a creative art hostessing is – makes your guests feel special and loved. You go crazy!

  15. P.S. That last line might sound different when you read it – I meant it as a “you go girl!” sentiment. Oh and by the way, great bag too.

  16. Jennifer March 27, 2007

    It doesn’t count as crazy unless *you* are distressed by it (and I’ve been trained in diagnosis, so I feel I can make this determination).

    Um, honestly? I could also be biased. I’m a member of Overplanners Anonymous, still in denial. (It’s not overplanning, it’s being prepared!) Whatever, enjoy yourself – spoil your friends. Life is too short to live it according to other people’s perceived or actual criticism. πŸ™‚

  17. I love that you care about all the details! I am a great appreciator of things that are *special* and that life should be treated as such.

    I wish I lived in AZ so I could come to your fabulous dinner party. πŸ™‚ I’ll bring the Riesling! πŸ™‚

  18. I would so like to go to one of your dinner parties! It sounds like a ball! I love when people care about all the nitty-gritty details (and when they give away gift bags-oh, the good ole days!)

    Love the bag!

  19. yummm sounds good! I’m having everyone over for easter and I already have everything planned. (Even the martha stewart pipecleaner baskets as goody holders). Have fun this weekend!

  20. You’re not crazy–that’s the fun part! πŸ™‚ Sounds like you and your friends are going to have a great time.

  21. often i am the same way (when i used to entertain, pre-hovel days)…don’t worry about going overboard, as long as you are having fun! your friends are very lucky πŸ™‚

  22. I don’t know what it is about black & white lately, but it’s just so durned appealing to me. The bag and sentiments are lovely, as are you.

    (& believe it or not…even though I can’t cook worth poop, I do prepare for one heck of a mean dinner party!!!)

  23. Have fun planning your feast and spoiling your friends- it sounds great!

  24. I feel you with the overplanning – LOVE. It’s like the anticipation is almost better than the event. As long as you can let go once the guests arrive!

    Check it: for New Years 2007, I was expecting 1 vegan, 2 raw meat-ists, 1 vegetarian raw foodist, 1 guy who didn’t eat beef or fat or chocolate, 1 who would have been unhappy NOT eating beef or fat or chocolate, 1 who didn’t eat fish, and 2 “normal” people. Oh, and one guy (friend of a friend) who apparently eats nothing. (Apparently showed up for somebody’s *Thanksgiving* and didn’t take a bite.) And of course I wanted to make it all formal and fancy. Can I tell you how many DAYS I sweated over that menu? And how much I enjoyed it?

    And that I had to cancel when we were forced to MOVE at the last minute? We ended up with three guests, eating everything we could clean out of the fridge, and had a great time. Could’ve been the champagne.

    My weakness is I buy a million DISHES for entertaining, with visions of tasting menus and individual souffles dancing in my head, and no idea how I’m going to serve it without feeling like the kitchen drudge…and end up with something ordinary like spaghetti, on my boring old everyday dishes.

  25. This sounds so fun and exotic! I usually end up with really grand schemes that end up being ratcheted down a few notches before the big event. (Every event is considered “big” — I don’t entertain often enough!) That’s why it pays to have lots of ideas; there’s room to ditch stuff and still have a great time. That having been said, nothing wrong with going overboard if you’re having fun. Such lucky guests. Surely you’ll be sharing the after pictures…?

  26. Enjoy every moment of it! I went into Martha overload for our Christmas party. That was the fun part for me. Then seeing my collegues who do not know this side of me enjoy all the Marthaness was just the cherry on top.

  27. Sounds fab Kelli, wish I could come. BTW, you have to give me the your playlist for the Hollywood Homemaker Soundtrack, I depserately need that one. πŸ˜‰

  28. Sounds like I should come to dinner too, what a feast. Yes I also obsess over dinner parties although I don’t do many any more. I now only host our bridge club once every four months (we alternate) but it’s a full dinner. One of our friends at Christmas decided to do black tie and now the rest of us can’t possibly compete with that. It was wonderful though as I’m sure your will be…ciao:)

  29. The meal looks delicious! Again, your creativity blows me away. Have a fabulous time at your dinner. πŸ™‚

  30. Your guests are about to be totally pampered!! I am so jealous! That food all sounds very interesting, adn I’m sure your party will be a success. Good luck!

  31. Are you kidding? This is the best idea ever! I love planning things well in advance (everything, a vacation, a night with friends, a short trip, a dinner, birthday or Xmas gifts, whatever). So I’m totaly with you in this. When I’m having friends over for dinner or simply for a coffee after dinner, I like to pleasantly surprise them with things like napkins coordinated with plates and glasses, flowers on the table, music or just burning incense and floating candles. I think that each single simple thing can say “I’m glad you’re here”.
    The bag is just amazing, btw!

  32. Mike au D'etroit March 28, 2007

    Oh my God… you sound just like my wife… we just had a party and she had it down to every detail.. and yes, she also gave out party favors… and yes, at times, she drove me nuts.. but it went off without a hitch…

    I treasure her for that.. if it was me it would have been pizza and beer with napkins for garnishment… I guess that’s why she is the ying to my yang..

  33. Check out your super yummy menu Kelli!! Can I come over too???? πŸ™‚

  34. I think it’s great that you’re so organized! It’s always last-minute work with me and I can tell it’s no fun!
    Enjoy all the preparations πŸ™‚

  35. Wow Kelli! I’m amazed. I only wish that I could be so lucky to be a guest at that great party you’re hosting this weekend. πŸ™‚ This is definitely giving Bree a run for her money. Plus, what’s the use of having nice china and great cooking skills if you can’t use it to spoil your friends? Enjoy!!

  36. SandyL.A. March 29, 2007


    I just had my first party in 10 years! Fortunately, I had the help of several friends to get the apartment ready and prepare the food, otherwise I think I would have cancelled at the last minute, even though it was a birthday party for a good friend. I admire your industry and energy and applaud your organization. Have a great time!

    P.S. I love your combination of patterns and colors and some of the patterns look simple enough even for a novice seamstress like me to attempt. Now I just need a sewing machine.

  37. i want to have dinner with you!! πŸ™‚ my dream dinner parties are like that, but my realities tend to be much more along the lines of ‘want to hang out with me in the kitchen while i finish cooking?’ i do press the tablecloth, though, and that’s got to count for something.
    i think that the gift bag idea is sweet… bah on overboard, i’m with your mom on this one! and i love your new market tote.

  38. You are so cute! I don’t think you can over plan a party or over spoil friends πŸ™‚ I love reading your blog – your creativity is exciting… makes me want to feel knitting needles between my hands πŸ™‚

    Have fun at your party!

    Lisa aka Mylerna

  39. i’m am bad about going overboard, too. i bet your guests had the best time and loved everything that you did for them.

  40. gaw–that food sounds delicious!