S8 E5 –Is hosting actually worth it?
Hosting people for dinner can be stressful but is the payoff worth it? Ben, a chef and Barry, a normal discuss thier different perspectives and offer up tips to make things a little easier in the future.
Best soundbite: “They were fondling under the table” – Barry Taylor
Sync up Feast Your Ears with your podcast app so you can listen to this episode on the go. To set this up head here.
join the debate
Submit a Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.
I love hosting all sorts of parties. I host at least two a year for major holidays and it’s gotten to the point that if my friends are having a party, they ask me to show up hours early to help them set up, I help them plan beforehand, and I end up taking over the hosting for them. I don’t find it stressful, I enjoy the planning that goes into it and spending all day getting ready because I know everyone will have a wonderful time when it’s all said and done.
I love hosting small parties, but I usually don’t put that much thought in to the food, to be honest. I’ve always just done an embellished charcuterie board and something sweet that is easy to eat. That way people can eat when they want, or not eat if they don’t want. We just pick at all night and it also has the advantage of being more picky eater friendly. I’ll supply some alcohol, with the understanding that it would be appreciated if parties coming brought something to drink as well. My sister and I have pretty much done this for the past few years.
We used to be the ones that would do the whole seated dinner thing, but found more often then not there was at least one or two in the group that wouldn’t want to eat something, so we stopped making a fuss about it and focused more on just being with friends and having fun, and the food became a secondary thing.
Plus, I’ve kinda gotten in my head now that I want to see if I can create the ultimate board the past year or so.
I don’t usually host alone. I’m almost always joined by a friend, and these dinners tend to be parts of some kind of celebration (holidays, birthdays, etc.). I love the planning and the shopping part. I usually get a bit anxious the day before but somehow become calm, kind and collected when the operation starts (yoga works, I guess) 🙂 But cleaning (especially before the guests arrive) is always daunting… I just hate it so much.
Oh, Jamie, please, don’t feed rubbish to your guests! 😛 I know, some people love eating rubbish but I refuse to buy things I consider very junky. But it’s okay, our guests kinda expect this so if they insist on eating or drinking rubbish that night, they bring their own. I know I’m terrible.
I never host a straight-up dinner party, because the stress just takes the fun out of everything.
It’s always going to be a potluck. There are those of my friends who will always make the same thing and then there are others of us who will try something new out on their friends – that would be me. I never worry about dishes not going together because I also think that’s part of the fun…but then again that just may be me.
For new year’s eve, I’m thinking about making a curry. I have *no* idea what everyone else is bringing and that’s fine with me. We’ll have lots of food and eat ourselves silly.
I love hosting! I always want to make stunning food but for my own sake because it’s creatively satisfying for me. I also just love casual weekday quick dinners together with friends, where it’s just a big pot of something on the table. And garlic bread. Always garlic bread! But you have to fight me to do the dishes. When I invite for dinners it’s because I want to treat my friends or family. I do however mostly just end up getting kicked out of the kitchen and people do the dishes anyway haha!
One thing that I absolutely detest though, is people bringing food or people unannounced. One time I hosted this tapas and cocktails evening and had been in the kitchen all day. Friends started arriving, one with another person I didn’t know nor had invited and another with a bag of frozen fries. Downed a glass of wine in the corner with a scowling look and twitching eye, when he put them in the oven together with my homemade bread!
I do need however to be better at planning the food to avoid stress for the bigger dinner parties so I like the ideas of the little black book! 😀
My family has never been big on hosting and have few friends who host and I find Barry’s running analogy to be spot on. My mom and I are also impressively bad at judging food amounts for parties–always getting way too much and then having to foist it off on other people and play refrigerator jenga for the next week. The exception to that problem being a holiday-defined meal, like Thanksgiving or New Years.
Old dining sets are wild–we have one from a great grandmother that has tiny salt and pepper shakers so that each person gets their own.
My maternal grandmother always remembered what someone liked–it was guaranteed to be there every time you visited (and possibly sent home with you too)! I have a good memory for preferences too–I’ve occasionally warned people that I’m good with faces but so bad with names that I will likely remember how you take your coffee, your favorite candy, what sport you said you played in high school, and your favorite tv show before I remember your name.
In high school a friend liked to host…I’m not sure I’d call them dinner parties, but he’d provide dinner he made himself and we had a lot of conversation and fun. Unfortunately, he wasn’t a very skilled cook, had limited ingredients, and liked to use the opportunity to experiment on his friends. It took us until partway through college to get across to him that you really needed to taste something before you inflict it on others…
I gather all my energy on Dec 24 and cook my butt off just to be able to play that fridge jenga (I love this expression, thanks for teaching me something today!) for the next 2 days (I practice a lot of freezer and dish rack jenga, too) 😀 It’s so reassuring to have decent meals that are great either reheated or cold without having to cook. It might sound pathetic but this is what makes that time Christmasy for me since I usually have to work during the day so it’s pretty much like any other day otherwise 🙁
Tasting is so crucial, right? I know a few non-tasters, but I don’t know 1) how they can say no to their own food 2) how their food always comes out at least eatable.
My friend would eat the food he made, but he would just be first tasting it at the same time as his guests, which was risky because he liked to experiment trial-and-error style without much knowledge to guide him. The stand out meal he once served was a casserole of macaroni noodles, eggs, and (his mothers HOMEMADE FROM SCRATCH) applesauce. It had the texture of flan studded with mushy noodles and tasted faintly of cinnamon and not much else. It was edible.
Christmas (and Thanksgiving) leftovers are my favorite. So many tasty meals after the main event!
Ben has often reminded me of my mom in many ways and when he mentioned the florist I just went “oh crap, he’s a geeky version of my mom!”
Both are extrovert cooks who loves being around people and invite them over regulary, tend to travel a lot and goes to different shows often. She has a huge freezer that’s always full, even though only she and my dad lives in that house, so she always have something to take out to visitors.
Only one thing left to completely solidify this for me: my mom rarely buys anything for full price, she waits for the sale or have coupons etc. She’s very economical. She and I went and saw The Real Group and she got the tickets on an offer that was buy 1, get 1 free. She gave me dad’s ticket, because he went to ice hockey instead 😛
She however is a really cool person without even trying, under my teenage years everyone around me in school thought she was so cool, while I was and still am, an introvert nerd 😛
My mom however buys nice flower pots she finds at flea markets and then pair it with a nice flower and bring as a gift. I however kill all plants without meaning too. I’d rather take something edible, like that doughnut bouquet you showed in a video a short while ago.
Me, hosting? HA! I have days when I don’t even let my mom get into my home, but that’s a really REALLY bad day. The few times I’ve been a host, I’ve given most responsibility to someone else. But that’s because of my disabilities and those who get invited to my place feels honored because everyone around me know how I am. So I only let people I feel comfortable with into my home…. oh and family members. 😉
This is the second time I’m listening to this podcast (now on video) and I cannot be more in tune with what Barry is saying, down to the running analogy. Mind you, the only times I run is when the bus is leaving me. Oh, the stress…I have had the same expectations for the hard working food I put on the table, and I had also been crestfallen by my guests not caring much for the details I so carefully put in place.
I don’t know if other people can read my profile, but the WORST dinner experience I had ever had was a time in which I painstakingly organized my parents 25th anniversary. Weeks of preparation. It took me so long to get the food on the table that some people tried to ‘help’ me by ordering food to the chicken rotisserie nearby. When my setup was ready, all guests already ate the chicken.
These days, if I ever host a dinner (which is exactly once every other blue moon), I chose the easy way: semi-made, darling! Put some touches to already prepared food and voila dinner is served.
Pot locks is another beast altogether. My office organize one of those for Thanksgiving and Christmas. First year, I was trying to impress my coworkers with an easy Peruvian side dish, a pepper-and-cheese dip served with boiled potatoes. 8 years later, they are expecting for me to deliver the same dish twice within a month. They love it and complain if if bring something different. Can someone feel both flattered and annoyed at the same time?
Did any of you have that ‘special’ dish that people ask for over and over?
I am bit of sweet tooth and I know exactly what you mean 😁
Me and my friends, we are passionate board games players, but planning just isn’t our thing, so usually the game day is organised in chaotic, rushed five minutes that very same day.
Years ago (!!!) I brought some buttermilk, blueberry, chocolate muffins and since that day, they refuse to eat other sweets 🤦😁. The minute I came through the doors even before I get to say hello, there’s that deeply passionate question: ‘Did you bring muffins?’
It might be a matter of cost to host a dinner party nowadays. In my economic status it is nigh on an impossibility to host anything more than say home made pizza etc sans wine.
I would hate the enormous pressure of hosting a posh dinner party or even one slightly posh, I prefer the laid back casual dinner with friends where guests can even help with the washing up (which can be fun in itself) and then can all relax laughing at a nice comedy on Netflix (or the latest episode of the Mandalorian)
Barry you are much better normal ‘chef’ than you give yourself credit for x
Top busy hosting to write a comment!!
Absolutely agree with Ben, I love entertaining but plan to cook those things that can be made in advance like Chicken with black Limes, Curries, stews, they can be completed int he afternoon , kept chilled to warm through. Much less stress. No shame in using shortcuts. You need to enjoy the party too.
I have only hosted two dinner parties in my adult life because I don’t have a dinner table or enough chairs for more than four people. It’s a shame because I love cooking, but in the smallest flat in the universe that’s stuffed full of mismatched furniture and ugly, bulky mobility equipment it just isn’t practical. The ones I did hold went quite well though, as I did the main in the slow cooker, bought a cheeseboard from the fantastic deli up the road, and invited three nurses (nurses tell the absolute funniest stories, definitely invite your nurse friends to dinner parties). I had to do virtually nothing, as the food was made hours beforehand, and the guests were so entertaining that it didn’t matter whether or not I was. At the most recent one, I also had two twelve week old kittens too, and they were not poisoned, thank goodness, but did end up somewhat fatter.
Unrelated to the topic, but related to the video, whilst the new setup is interesting and I’m sure it helps the conversation flow more easily to be facing each other, I watch on video rather than via a podcast app because I partially lip read. Would it be possible to…. well, to put Barry in the seat facing the camera, he’s the one I have to lipread the most and he had the back of his head to the camera.
Honestly, I love hosting and enjoy the stress. For holiday parties, I usually do a potluck where everyone brings a dish and I make the turkey, a side dish, dessert, and cocktails. But I also love cooking myself and doing the whole party because I love watching people eat what I cook. The one thing that I hate about hosting is the washing up because I’m often up until maybe 03:00 doing dishes. Every time I have to do dishes I say I’m never going to host again.
Also, Ben isn’t crazy. I also keep track of what my guests have eaten.
Ben is who I wish I was, and Barry is who I actually am. I made and plated and did drinks pairings for 7 courses for one of my exes as an anniversary present. She didn’t eat two of the courses and the praise was not nearly as effusive as I had hoped.
I wish I could have just said “as long as she enjoyed it” but I’m not going to lie, I was slightly disappointed. Not that I let on!