by Sandy Coughlin
The Reluctant Entertainer
Medford blogger, author, entertainer.
This past week was a time of freshening up the home, cleaning up the yard and garden, and getting ready for a big dinner party that’s happening tonight in our backyard!
For me, some days are full of joy, generously strewn along my pathway, glistening in the sunlight.
In true excitement, that would be tonight, as 14 bloggers join my family and me for a backyard dinner party. Our guests are coming for a Harry & David blogging event, but they’re starting the night off with the Coughlins! We feel so honored!
Back to the joys of entertaining. I’m really content when I entertain. There’s an element of it that I really love, I think it’s part of my DNA, my love-language–cooking and giving and bringing people together. I thought I’d share my 3 tips to throwing a successful dinner party:
3 tips for throwing a successful dinner party:
1. Throw out the rules:
Don’t get caught up in impressing. Create a menu, add a few extra touches, and for my husband and me (we are our own gardeners!), get the backyard and entertaining space as nice as it can be. But remember, you can go crazy trying to make it all perfect. When it comes to people coming to your home, get rid of the preconceived ideas that they are coming to inspect. They are coming for you and others! So I’ve learned to let the dinner party reflect who we are in southern Oregon, a reflection of our family’s style and taste.
2. Prioritize and plan:
-Define your limits or else the temptation to go overboard can be dangerous. Define the 3 most important aspects of your dinner party and plan to make it happen (so you’re not scrambling last minute when guests are coming). I’m saying to focus on 3, because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself.
– Quality of the food: We enjoy showing our love by making homemade food and cooking from our garden. Tonight we are using Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, and ground cherries and squash fresh from the ground.
– Make one or two areas the Star of the Show: It could be the tabletop, or possibly the appetizer area, the lighting, or even the entertainment (live music?), or the play list. You choose what’s important to you!
3. Think about who’s coming:
How can you get to know this person better, what are the attributes of this person, offer up prayers asking how you can bless the people at your table, who will sit by who (place cards), and how you, as the hostess, can connect your guests with others.
I try to remind myself why I entertain to begin with. It helps me keep my priorities straight, to block out silly, misconceived rules and ideas that we always need to impress, and that things need to be SO perfect. We have 2 bathrooms that desperately need remodeling. If we waited for those renovations to happen before entertaining, I think about all the connections and joys of getting to know other people that our family would have missed out on.
So tonight … the elements of joy and all of us being together tonight will make the ambience come alive – I can just feel it. Many of us meeting for the very first time (but knowing each other online for years), these Harry & David dinners are mini reunions for bloggers, and at the same time, we all know that Harry & David’s focus is on people–giving, gifts, and hospitality.
Coming together in a simple home, sharing the common life in a simple backyard in southern Oregon, with a hint of gold-tinged love surrounding the table (just like their gold gift-wrapped pear), I’m reminded how food and people and love are what make a successful dinner party.
Do you get scared when it comes to hosting, or are you a natural? What would you like for me to explore more on RE when it comes to entertaining?
I did my shopping at the Harry & David Country village, as they are providing food and drink; and tables were provided by a very cool local business in Medford, Rosewood Vintage Rentals.
Local and traveling friends, did you know that you can tour the Harry & David kitchen?