I had twelve people over for dinner the other night. It's been a few years since I lived in a place large enough to have a dinner party and I was very excited about the opportunity to host our monthly dinner. I used to enjoy entertaining and cooking for guests and had people over often in the past.
Generally, I would come up with an impressive menu and spend the day cooking (or the evening before). It was time-consuming and expensive to provide the kind of dinner I like to share with guests. But everyone was suitably impressed with both my cooking and entertaining skills. I do love to cook, so having people over is a great way to try out new dishes.
But this time, it was going to be easy, and cheap. Our group only does potlucks. Over the several years we've been meeting and eating, most of participants have developed their usual offering. Everyone RSVPs with what they are bringing and we all descend upon the host. Simple. All I have to do is vacuum and put out plates, cutlery, glasses, napkins, etc. Right?
Whoever said potlucks were easy was dead wrong. Instead of preparing three or four dishes for my guests, I had to contend with eight different dishes, each of which required different handling. One person brought frozen pizza (gourmet pizza… not El Cheapo) that we had to bake. Another person needed something heated in the oven, at a different temperature than the pizza. Two others needed the microwave. Someone else had to assemble their salad.
All this had to be done just before serving. I have a tiny kitchen. No room for five people to do five different activities in there. But everyone wanted to help, so we all bumped into each other.
Everyone needed serving utensils. Everyone wanted more glasses. More napkins. More this. More that. And they didn't sit where I expected them to.
The result: yes, it was cheaper, but I felt totally stressed by a dozen different demands just to get the food on the table. When they left they all needed more assistance with foil and bags and borrowing Tupperware to give someone some of the leftovers.
NOTE: photo is not my actual kitchen, but more of my impression of what the kitchen looked like.
What I thought was going to be fun and easy turned out to be anything but. Will I do it again? Probably. I loved spending time with my friends and having them enjoy my home. But I think next time I might just cook for them, then let them do all the dishes.
On the bright side, I made fresh bread for dinner and everyone loved it, and we still have some leftover for Sunday French toast. Yum
EM Lynley, Rainbow Award winner and EPIC finalist, writes gay romance and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Rarer Than Rubies, her latest book came out this week from Dreamspinner Press. It's "Indiana Jones meets Romancing the Stone" only gayer. Also available on Kindle from Amazon. Visit her website for Free Reads, news and more.