A Dinner Party Is Born: The Set Up


Let me tell you about something I hate.

I am pretty in to blogs, so when I peruse my daily reads, I want the truth and nothing but. I came upon your blog for a reason so no need to hoodwink me in to staying, I’m here! I’m yours forever. Example, the style blogs I browse each day over my morning iced (yes, even in the winter) coffee all feature sassy, stylish girls. These gals often set their scenes in NYC and usually strike poses on cobblestone streets in impossible heels. I don’t mind this unlikely combo – I like the cobblestone streets and love the heels. Sure, I’ll buy you were just sashaying across Bleeker when a phantom photographer snapped you at exactly the right moment so your lips were parted in a sly smile and your hair blowing just-so in the breeze. But I will NOT buy – my stylish blogger friend – that you are running around the Big Apple, hopping on A trains & M16 buses all in your towering heels with nary a need to rest your pretty self on a park bench.

I don’t need to see this in my fashion blogs any more than I need to see a recipe for calorie-free deep fried chicken. Such things simply do not exist. Instead, show me how you style your flats for your running around or direct me to your secret comfy walking shoes so I too might shlep to work heels in hand, clouds on feet.

So when the idea for a dinner party story popped in to my head, I knew I was not going to be able to get away with copying and pasting the best parts in to one blog and smiling pretty like “that took no time at all!” No sir, not when I’ve already heartily introduced myself as a full-time working Mama of a 1-year-old. Instead, I want to share with you exactly how I turned my humble Junior Four apartment in to a dinner guest’s delight. Also, how I transformed my semi-spacious kitchen with pretty good counter space in to the finest cocina in all the land. So here it is – in several parts – may I present to you “A Dinner Party Is Born”.

Setting the Date

Before my kiddo toddled along, I was always ready, willing and able to play hostess… mainly because if you’re going to ask your friends to cross the good ol’ G Dub in to Jersey, you better be willing to feed them. You’ll come to discover that my gathering wasn’t especially fancy and perhaps in my more carefree days would be something I could’ve pulled together nearly on the fly. “You free?” “How ‘bout you?” “Ok, let’s eat!” But since those days are about as far behind me now as the NJ Turnpike, planning my social calendar has become understandably more difficult. The most important part? Getting Grandma to take Lil Lady for the night. Even more full disclosure – this was only on the table because I had off the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s so I didn’t feel too bad forfeiting a night with my gal. This idea came to me while sipping my first spiked, mulled cider of the season, the day after Thanksgiving. The rare time when an alcohol-infused decision turned out to be a good one – I messaged my potential guest list and got December 29th as the date already on the books.

Picking the Players

I am fortunate enough to have friends from various parts of my life show up for my various hosting endeavors. I’ve already had some high school buds and my lifelong bestie tag along on some foodie fun for this blog, so I knew they’d all be game. However, though I’ve served food in the past, this would be the first time I would really be cooking it all and challenging myself on the menu. Because I didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of my eats, I decided to keep the guest list simple. In the end, our siblings, their counterparts, and that aforementioned best friend (and her new hubby!) would be our dinner dates for the evening.

Establishing the Eats

While I wanted a challenge, I didn’t want to completely set myself up for an epic kitchen disaster. I had been playing around with some wonton wrappers lately and had created a pretty killer take on nachos made with ahi tuna. From there I thought of my beloved Pinterest and a wonton taco recipe I noticed there…and also my killer margaritas. Adding on a pulled pork crowd pleaser and two basically brainless salsas, I knew I had a gameplan. The fare would add up to one happening fiesta, our dinner party was in the works.

Next time! Shopping & budgeting for the big night.

-Christina Halpin


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