I wanted to offer some practical ideas for hosting get togethers in your home. I am all for cheap and easy. You don't want get togethers to be a burden, because then you're in no mood to be hospitable when your company arrives. Believe me, I've been in a huff when we have company planned and I'm still doing yesterday's dishes and Joel is running behind and our company is knocking on the door!
So, wether you're just starting to open your home, or you're looking for fresh, simple ideas. . . here you go!
~grill hamburgers and hotdogs (family friendly or adults only) buy the frozen patties to keep it simple. All you really need is buns, condiments, chips, and drinks. You can jazz it up with a pineapple casserole (recipe at bottom of post) or baked beans (no recipe, I have no idea how to make them!). Homemade or store bought ice cream for dessert. If you're inviting a large(ish) number of people, you could ask each family or guest to bring their own meat, or a side dish or dessert.
~salad potluck - ask each guest to bring a salad. Encourage creativity and variety - "green" salads (lettuce base), pasta salads, fruit salads, coleslaw type salads. . . dessert salads too!
~campfire cookout - hot dogs and smores!
~Chili - make a big crockpot of a simple recipe and serve with crackers, cheese, and sour cream. have a simple pie (from the frozen section) and ice cream for dessert.
~soup or chili potluck - along the same lines as the salad potluck.
~ice cream social - several churns of homemade ice cream with all the toppings!
~taco night - you do the meat mixture in the crockpot, and assign each guest to bring one or two of the "fixings" such as sour cream, lettuce, salsa, tortilla chips, etc. Make sure to assign a couple of desserts out!
~dessert potluck - yep, you guessed it!
~spaghetti bake - you can premake this and bake it just before company is expected. serve with a salad and garlic bread.
I have also been known to order bbq and a side or two from a restaraunt and serve it right from the styrofoam containers! We still had a great time!
There are so many more ideas! People don't mind bringing something along to contribute to the meal, and it often makes them feel good to contribute!
Be sure to have coffee or hot tea after dinner to encourage your guests to stay a while. I always turn the coffee pot on right after I finish eating so that when the table is cleared I can invite everyone to fix their coffee and move to the living room where we can visit. I like to serve dessert in the living room with coffee too.
If there is a lull in conversation, you could always suggest a board game or round of cards. In fact, we have often had game night get togethers.
Don't be afraid to use paper plates for meals that won't get too soggy and don't require cutting. Remember, people are there for a good time, not for a show!
Tomorrow we will discuss the myth of not having enough space in your house to have people over!