April 20, 2016
H&H Editors’ Hilarious Dinner Party Fails, Revealed!
To make your next dinner party one to remember (for all the right reasons), you’ll need a few key ingredients: good food, great friends, and sound advice from hosts who’ve been there before. Here, our editors share a few of their own cautionary tales and best advice for entertaining.
Lauren Petroff, Design Editor
“One holiday season, I decided to have some friends over for dinner. Inspired by the never-ending comfort food posts all over my Facebook and Instagram feeds (and maybe even by the movie Julie & Julia), I thought it’d be a ‘fun’ idea to take on boeuf bourguignon for the first time. Even though I essentially spent a full day preparing, everything seemed to fall apart when my guests arrived. I was so distracted by them, and by making the side dishes, that I forgot to check on the main event! My friends were very good sports, but what we ended up eating was a dry, baked-on mess, not the juicy, tender meal I’d been hoping for. Dinner party fiascos usually have to do with food, so keep an eye on your timing and, when in doubt, stick with things you’ve tried before.”
Kimberley Brown, Executive Editor
“I love the intimacy and coziness of having friends over for dinner, but find it really stressful to handle food prep, cooking, serving and hosting duties all on my own. It probably doesn’t help that I expect everything to look chic enough to appear in the pages of House & Home! I hosted Easter dinner one year and in my rush to get things on the table while they were still steaming hot, I broke one of my favorite bowls. I’ve learned to enlist a friend as a co-host, so I can be in the kitchen without feeling like I’ve abandoned my guests. I’m still working on chilling out about things being perfect, but I’m getting there.”
Kai Ethier, Design Editor
“We once had a potluck gathering where I made the mistake of just telling people to bring a dish or a bottle of wine… and everyone showed up with wine! The only food we had was one meat dish I’d made and a cheese plate I’d put together. I had to send my husband to the corner store, and I think most people filled up on pretzels and chips. It was not the casual, yet sophisticated gathering that I had imagined. I’ve definitely learned the importance of organizing my food plan beforehand!”
Reiko Caron, Stylist
“The stylist in me can always turn a disaster of a condo into a manicured, magazine-worthy space within an hour, and at my place, this mainly requires a lot of decluttering (and hiding of ugly, dog-related things). One night, I thought I was being clever by throwing all our unsightly pieces into our bedroom, but failed to remember that our guests had never been to our place before and would certainly snoop around! How embarrassing. The lesson here? Be smart about where you stash things… you never know who’s going to be nosy!”
Morgan Michener, Senior Editor
“A couple years ago, we invited 32 people for dinner the weekend before Christmas. The morning of the party, we woke up to the ice storm of 2013! We somehow still had power, but soon the phone started ringing. In all, about half of our guests cancelled. Later that day, the firemen showed up and said we couldn’t use any large appliances — including the stove and dishwasher! We ended up having dinner by candlelight with the smaller group of guests, keeping the food warm under blankets… and it was actually really lovely. My advice? When things don’t go according to plan, just go with it!”
House & Home December 2014 issue
Tanya Linton and Mike Sheerin