What Makes You Not Invite Guests Back?

Dinner party faux pas

My recent bout of entertaining got me thinking about what makes a good dinner party. No matter how much effort you put in, and as charming you try to be, the conversation doesn’t always flow smoothly. And let’s face it, some guests are just difficult (but not any of my recent guests, who mostly read […]


The Party’s Over: Getting Your Kitchen Back in Order

Yesterday was the last day of a round of holidays. I cooked so many meals, that I bought 20 onions on Thursday and had none left by Monday. If you’re just starting to think about upcoming holidays, you can read Preparing for a Holiday Cooking Session. Here’s my strategy for recovering from the holidays. Get out […]


Quick Summer Meals on the Go

My 22-year-old niece is visiting us for three weeks. We plan to take a lot of trips, but we don’t want to spend a lot on food, nor do we want to buy expensive and unhealthy snacks. So I asked readers how they cope with busy summer plans. I need meals and snacks that are […]


Simple and Creative Ways to Garnish Your Food

I like to write practical advice. But sometimes, aesthetics matter. My mother made a special pint of ensuring that the colors and textures of teach meal were harmonious. She also had all kinds of little tricks to lay out the food attractively. While I am much more laid back, I still use her tricks when […]


Top 10 Tips for a Great Pot-Luck Party

People today have less and less time to entertain. The thought of shopping, cooking  and getting your house ready for a crowd is daunting! And that’s without the clearing up afterward. Pot luck might be the answer. You, the host, still have to organize the food and do the groundwork, but your guests do most […]


Hosting Is Not for the Faint of Heart: Accommodating Special Diets

bowl of rice

My post on whether vegetarians should notify hosts about their diet sparked an interesting discussion in the comments. And Miriam linked to a cartoon from the New Yorker, showing a Thanksgiving dinner where every guest follows a different diet. I started to think about what I would serve were these my guests. Here are the […]


Should Vegetarians Warn Dinner Hosts in Advance?

vegetarian meal with peas, rice, carrots and zucchini

Chaya left this comment on my post When Hosting, How Much is Too Much?: I am a vegetarian and often face a dilemma when I am invited out.  I don’t like to tell my host that I am vegetarian so as not to make them feel that they need to make something especially for me […]


When Hosting, How Much Is Too Much?

Dining room at Charlecote Park

In the comments on my guest post on hosting a crowd at Habitza, I recalled a party I hosted for a newly married couple I hardly knew. Afterward, one of the single men who had been invited complained that guys get hungry, and we should have served more than a quarter of a chicken per person. He would have liked a second piece.

I still remember that exchange because it put me on the defensive. Hosts are sensitive. Here I helped plan and pay for this huge party, and that guy (who also didn’t know the young couple in question) should have been grateful to be invited.


Tips on Stretching Food for Company

In this classic episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show, Mary throws a dinner party. Her obsessive-compulsive friend Sue-Ann offers to make dinner, but prepares exactly six portions. Watch the first minute or two of the scene, when a guest takes more than his share.

Has you ever run out of food for your guests? As hosts, we have to balance preparing more than enough with having to throw out leftovers. And just like at Mary’s party, the unexpected can happen: Someone who offers to prepare food doesn’t bring enough, extra guests turn up, or one guest is unusually hungry. Maybe a dish you plan to serve gets ruined.

Here are some tips for when you realize that you may be short on food when company comes.


Refreshment Help for Hosts

fruit platter

I often host clubs, committee meetings and speakers in my home. The standard refreshments in our community at these events are bought or homemade cakes, soft drinks, bottled water, packaged “snack” foods, fruit, and nuts. I prefer not to buy the prepared foods both because of health and cost. Whatever is left, my family will eat.