Dinner Party Defensive Techniques

Ain’t no party like a dinner party ’cause a dinner party don’t stop!

I’ve been throwing a lot of dinner parties lately. It’s a passive aggressive technique. Mostly so that I don’t have to sit at home on Saturday nights and watch movies with my mom while she tells me she wants to kill herself.

It’s no joke. She has terrible depression. It is horrible. But there is no getting around it now. I’ve tried everything, done everything, I can’t fix it. I can’t fix her.

“She should move back to Wisconsin,” my sister said.

My sister makes six figures and is much smarter than me.

“I don’t think she’ll be happier,” I said.

“I don’t know either,” she said. “But I know you will be. And that’s enough.”


Dinner parties as defensive technique! It’s been pretty effective. I invite my mom to said dinner parties as well. Sometimes she comes, sometimes she doesn’t. But if she does, it means she has to behave.

I’ve had friends over, professors, smart people, exciting people. During one dinner party, my dad had his third psychotic break and his building kept calling, putting him on the line and it was terrifying and awful but there was nothing I could do. “Go to the hospital,” I said. “I don’t want to,” he said. Then he lost his mind and the cops were called the next day and he went into the hospital where they got his medications figured out and straightened him out in a week.

A dinner party is a decent distraction.*

I take my dinner party cues from Ina Garten. Prep like you mean it, so you can sit and relax with your guests when they arrive. Ask your friends to bring a dish. But plan your menu first so they can know what to bring, what flavors to go for, style of food, etc.

To that end, I’ve been making dishes that can be cooked mostly in advance. Here are a few dinner party menus I recommend. I am addicted to Skinnytaste and all her recipes. I bought all her cookbooks and they’re all fantastic.

Skinnytaste night with vegetarian option:

Skinnytaste pork tenderloin with caraway seeds

Skinnytaste butternut squash lasagna

Skinnytaste house salad

*This one was the most successful because it was the simplest. Everything was ready and I could just relax and my professor friend brought the most beautiful appetizer spread of two Ina Garten dips in matching glass with fresh veggies and crudités like a rainbow.

Italian night with Marcella Hazan always.

-Bolognese never disappoints.

-Her pot roast is also good.

-A bowl of pasta.

-A silver loaf of garlic bread from the grocery store. My son loses his mind for garlic bread. “I love garlic bread so much!” he says and inhales the whole loaf.

Mexican night with vegetarian option:

Slow cooker pork carnitas

Sweet potato and black bean tacos

Mexican corn salad

Confetti slaw

I thought pork carnitas  would be easier because I could throw it in the slow cooker and be ready by dinner, but the side dishes killed me. I was working nonstop trying to fry the tortillas while the guests were here and everybody spent the whole night smoking cigarettes in the garage anyway.

But they’ve all been fun.

Memorable. We dance, we drink, we share the home, we laugh, no matter what fresh hell is happening on the side. We try to make a life, regardless.

All of us at the table together. I can look at my children, I can look at my friends. And I am happy.

*I flew home to Wisconsin a week later and helped my dad when he got out of the hospital and I could actually do something.

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