If you’re like me, you’ll experience all the feels when you finally decide to invite your friends over for dinner. Nervousness, fear, and hopefully excitement. And, don’t worry, that’s normal. Ignore the self-doubt and listen to this: entertaining is a chance to celebrate your real self. Not your if-I-had-8-extra-hours-of-free-time self. Not your if-I-were-a-better-cook self. Not even your if-only-I-were-Beyoncé self. Your real, busy, wonderful, complicated, hungry self. The you your friends already love.
Take a cue from food trucks. Whether they’re serving bacon wrapped/infused/battered something or crème brûlée, food trucks announce loud and proud what they’re about and make no apologies. That’s why we love them. Below are four entertaining tips to bring food-truck style from the streets to your home.
food trucks announce loud and proud what they’re about and make no apologies. that’s why we love them.
Have a game plan
Behind the fun and novelty of a food truck are organization and efficiency. A truck’s menu is crafted to make sense for its limited space, and you should consider the same. As you’re putting your own menu together, think about cooking times and methods, and how it will all work together. For example, if you have one dish going in the oven, make sure the rest of the cooking happens on the stove. A little upfront thinking-it-through will be a stress-saver during crunch time. When it comes to hosting, less is more. It’s better to make a few dishes than lots of smaller things. Go for one dish on the stove, one in the oven, and one that doesn’t need cooking at all like a salad.
Pick a theme
Craft the meal around your passions, diet, or heritage. A great theme will naturally tie everything together. Choose one — Mediterranean al fresco, Thai street food, Southern BBQ, etc. — that celebrates part of who you are, and the energy will be contagious. Make a Greek spread your yia-yia would be proud of, complete with your unique twist. Show your carnivorous friends that eating vegetarian food can be both delicious and satisfying. Have a Tony Awards party with cocktails inspired by Hamilton. Even better, include your friends in the fun by inviting them to bring theme-inspired dishes. Anything they bring will be a perfect fit, and there will be less for you to prepare beforehand. It’s a win-win.
Keep the decorations simple
Food trucks are all about the food. You grab it, you go, and you eat. While that probably isn’t the case with your next dinner party, your ambiance can be simply inspired by the simplicity of a food truck. Good music and a few candles are all you need. Find a Spotify playlist that fits your mood (I’m partial to Jazzy Dinner) and have it playing in the background. Music keeps natural pauses in conversation from feeling awkward. Add some candles so the glow warms up your space. Make sure they’re unscented so the fragrance doesn’t compete with the smells wafting from your kitchen. If you’re feeling fancy, you can’t go wrong with fresh flowers.
Most food trucks do a few things really well. Ask for a substitution or go off the menu, and you’ll get some serious shade. Food truck owners and their teams have swagger. Channel this healthy dose of confidence to put your guests at ease. Constantly apologizing about your cooking, your home, etc., can make your guests feel uneasy like they need to compensate for your perceived shortcomings.
Remember, your friends are there to spend time with you because they like you, not because they think you (or your cooking) is perfect. And, let’s be real, they probably won’t even notice that you one thing you’re worried about (we’ve over-salted too!)
How do YOU like to host? Share your entertaining tips and ideas in the comments below, or post a photo with #confettikitchen on Instagram!