Entertaining at Home

My wife and I enjoy entertaining, and quite often invite other couples or families over. Usually we start in the kitchen/den with appetizers or salad, then go into the dining room for the main course. During the heights of COVID or in good weather we tend to grill and eat outside. Guests usually bring wine or salad/appetizer/dessert. But our problem is our friends don’t like to entertain at home as much as we do, and so it is rare that we are invited over to others’ homes for a meal. They tend to invite us out to go to restaurants instead, which is fine but gets expensive. We also tend to cycle through the same 8-10 people whom we have over. We need to branch out.

That feels rather unfair. I am a person who does have people over. The people we have over are reciprocators. So, it all evens out. However, if I were a person who did NOT have people over but had friends who routinely invited me, I would PAY for them if we invited them out to dinner.

“You are always so gracious to have us in your home. You know I am not the entertainer/hostess that you are, but I truly appreciate the time, effort, and expense of having folks to your home for dinner. So, I’d love for us to go out to dinner at ____________ on ___________ and have it be my treat to reciprocate for all your generous and gracious hospitality.”

If people never invited me to their home (which is perfectly fine if that’s not their jam) but also never treated when they invited me out, I would likely stop inviting them after awhile. I think I would feel unappreciated at best and possibly taken advantage of.


My book group, who have been together since our little ones were in first and second grades, has evolved into a monthly dinner party hosted by each participant in turn. It has been on zoom at times in recent winters, and we all miss the food. As hosting is only once a year, the food tends to be quite nice and centered around the setting of what we are reading. Hosting once a year is really a pleasure and it is something to happily anticipate each month, for 10 months anyhow.


I agree with you on the occasional paying when you go out if you never host. In our birthday group, we have 1 of four couples that never hosts. BUT, they always bring very nice stuff to the host’s place - multiple bottles of wine, extravagant dessert, fancy cheeses, etc. we just accept them as they are, and it’s all good.


Sorta like “pay for the plate”? LOL.


I have receiprocated (book club at my house, ladies night) but in my backyard b/c our kitchen has been in the process of a long-delayed rehab (while focusing on another construction project). That being said, if I’m invited to a big party of 40+ people (occasionally) I don’t feel the same reciprocity obligation. I bring a nice bottle of wine and food and I think it’s okay.

As much as I’m not the biggest fan of hosting, once our kitchen is done I am looking forward to having a few neighborhood couples over (those who’ve invited us previously) and family. I’ll probably be looking here for threads on what to serve LOL.

Our house was always kid central when my son was growing up. Maybe that’s a lesson of sorts - we had a cement-walled, unfinished basement, lots of frozen pizza and brownies at the ready- plus a sincere interest and appreciation for all the kids. Maybe hosting isn’t that complicated, but I think adults would want slightly better food, LOL.


We don’t have formal dinner parties, but do have family and friends to our home for dinner. Since our space is small we like to eat outside on the deck which we are able to much of the year since we are near the beach in Southern California. We have a lot of barbecues and I also have many specialty dishes I like to make and have people over.

My good friend and I were talking about doing a rotating dinner at each others houses where we each make a gourmet meal. We are thinking about doing it every other month so it would be 3 times a year for each of us. My H and her H both said it sounds great to them!


I borrowed this idea . Guests arrived, with a menu from a Chinese restaurant at their place setting. The host ordered everything to be delivered. I modified this to sending the menu to the people, and ordered in advance.

Pizza dinners can be easy. I’ll have a good salad and an eggplant parmigiana or something ready. To make the good salad, I’ll stop by a fresh market or WFs and get the “accessories”, the corn, beets, beans, etc. and add to a typical salad.


We have lots of dinners at our home and go to friend’s homes often. I am much more likely to host a “dinner party” of three or four couples than a large party with food and drinks. Every year, with Covid interruption, we host a friends party for my HS crowd.

We have four “groups” of couple friends - with us, there are four couples in three of the groups and three in one. In the group with three couples we tend to go out, but the other groups tend to take turns hosting at each other’s homes (one is now a widower and not hosting but that is OK with all of us).

I enjoy having people over although it is a lot of work. My DH does a lot of the cooking and our friends always bring something (appetizer or dessert or, at the very least, wine). The only downside is that he makes quite a mess for me to clean up!

I much prefer being together at someone’s home to dining out as it is more relaxed and you can talk to everyone. With 8 people in a restaurant you often can only really talk to those sitting right around you. The groups also sometimes dine out, which is also nice as nobody has to be do any work!

And in reference to the housekeeping thread, is a good impetus to deep clean my house (not my favorite activity).

I like parties, but we go to very few these days. People in my circle don’t seem to be having big parties as often.


I love the Chinese idea above, but our restaurants are very limited and most don’t deliver in the rural areas.even picking up a take out would be limited to local Tex mex.

We need to clearly start entertaining again. We are thinking on the deck with a couple coming over from the neighborhood for drinks.What is your favorite snack that requires Very Little prep? I’m thinking expensive different cheese with toothpicks, tomatoes with dribbled basalmic, different crackers, wine/ beer. Fruit like strawberry’s, brownies, ?


My go to is always a charcuterie with really good cheeses and meats. I add honeycomb, nuts, fresh fruit and some good mustard for the meats. I serve with a baguette and different crackers.


I always serve that when it’s for 4-5 people. They can sit and eat anywhere. Lots of fresh fruit.
Last time we did that the hedge fund guy thanked us profusely, he missed eating healthy food when he’s traveling. He did insist in bring bagels though.


Do you call it appetizers, hor d’eoeuvres, or snacks? And at what time do you invite them?

Call it Happy Hour and invite about 4:00 pm (or after work if they work). Miss Manners said if you invite someone at meal time, you have to feed them. So lighter fare should be outside normal meal hours.

I’m a fan of Brie, French bread, and grapes. Around here, people entertain a lot with chips and salsa. And hummus. If you want a bit more, throw together some mini croissant sandwiches. But it might depend on what kind of drinks - beer, wine, cocktails can each suggest differently styles of food.


Don’t forget some pickles or olives!!! :blush:


It’s interesting, thinking about this. Pre-Covid, we liked to entertain. Everything from casual drinks to a big party in the summer and a big Christmas party and family holidays. That all came to a grinding halt. Kids have grown up and friends have gotten divorced in the last two years and everything is different now. But what I like to do is have our very good neighbor friends over for dinner. Does not have to be fancy - can be grilling, or tacos, or pizza and salad. They are just easy people we love spending time with and were our bubble during the pandemic. And then we have another couple that are ski friends - they live about 90 minutes from us and usually outside of ski season we see them one or two times per year - it’s such a schlep - we just go to their house for the day or vice versa and have dinner. But it’s usually a show up around 4 and leave around 10 - because we have a lot of catching up to do.

I am not so into just inviting my regular mom-friends and their husbands over for dinner parties. I do have my mom-friends over for things like Christmas crafting - get out the glitter and the prosecco and make ornaments. That is fun! I’m not artistic but some of my friends are. And I am always thinking I should invite everyone over for drinks but…I really don’t drink very much anymore.


We used to have friends over for dinner. Yes because of Covid that did come to a screeching halt. Last August we went to a neighbors for drinks and snacks on their patio and that was really fun. So that’s my plan. Clean the main floor and bathroom, freshen up the dog with a shower, get some goodies and beer/ wine and try it on our deck. Great suggestions from this thread. Will try 4pm.


I agree with @Marilyn to just call it happy hour.

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No one has dessert parties? Before Covid we often had folks over around 7-7:30 and served a number of desserts, a few appetizers and drinks. Easy Peasy.


We do that too!