January Project: Dinner Parties, with People, Whenever

First, did you notice my goal sheet? I posted it. I did what I said I was going to. I’d give myself a prize for follow-through, but that feels like cheating. Anyway, if you didn’t see my goal sheet, it turns out it doesn’t matter. You’ll understand this post anyway.

The Goal

Prepare ourselves and our house to host a dinner party, and then maintain the house in such a way that we can have people over for dinner without stressing out over “getting things ready”. To test ourselves, we’ll choose a couple of “enforcers” to randomly invite themselves to dinner within the month of February.

Wait!!! Was this on the list? Not word for word. You had to read between the words of “have people over more often”.

What constitutes “readiness” for a dinner party?┬áHere’s where I’m going to be realistic. Jonathan and I work full time, and we have a baby, and we have no experience maintaining a pristine house. So, my standards aren’t optimal, particularly because I know that our friends aren’t really that judgmental:

  • We can eat at the dining table, i.e. it’s clear and the surrounding area is clean.
  • The kitchen counters are clear of clutter and crumb-free.
  • The bar is clear so that people can stand by it, because, inevitably, that’s where people want to stand.
  • We have a plan for obtaining ingredients and making something delicious by the next evening. Yes, for now, I’m reserving a one day waiting period for on-demand dinners, where the demand must be made before 7pm.
  • There are few enough toys scattered throughout the living room that we can put them “away” (i.e. wherever we decided they belong, which might be in plain sight) within 10 minutes.
  • We can ask guests to bring things to the dinner, i.e. we aren’t committing to being on the hook for all four courses. At least not right away. Also, I’m not completely sure I know what “all four courses” are.
  • We have drinks and servingware on hand. Servingware isn’t a word, but I figure you can guess what it means.

The Why

  • Despite being a rather painful introvert most days of the week, I really do like people, and I’m always happy after people have visited.
  • Being able to have people over is one of the big reasons I care about cleaning the house. Although I KNOW I am personally happier when the house is clean, I really don’t make cleaning a priority unless people are coming over. So, I’m hoping I can harness the groundless fear of judgment to enforce a cleanly state of house, and in so doing, I can reap the personal happiness that shiny counters and crumbless floors bestow.
  • Introducing the possibility of needing to host a dinner “on demand” might keep us alert and able to keep this resolution beyond just a one-time event.

The Problems

Oh, the problems. I’ll have a more detailed analysis of why some of the problems exist, but here’s what we need to overcome…

  • There’s stuff to put away.
  • There are crumbs to clean.
  • There’s food to make.
  • There are habits to form.

Again, this doesn’t qualify as the “analyze roadblocks” phase of my solution. This is the list of roadblocks I need to analyze.

The Intermediate Goals

  1. Remove all unusual clutter, which, at this time of year, is all the Christmas stuff (decorations, gifts, packed suitcases, etc.).
  2. Put away usual clutter, i.e. whatever stuff that’s lying around on every single surface in the parts of the house that guests would encounter.
  3. Clean surfaces in the same parts of the house.
  4. Experiment with entrees and/or sides so that we have some “go to” options.
  5. Figure out what drinks to keep on hand.
  6. Develop maintenance plan for preventing clutter, cleaning surfaces, and keeping drinks stocked.
  7. Invite some people over to a dinner party.
  8. Assign people to test us over the next month or two.

The Prizes

Hmm. I don’t know if I need tangible prizes for these particular intermediate goals. I feel motivated to at least get to step 7 because it’s been a while since we had people over, and then step 8 lives on its own promise of embarrassment if we can’t follow through. That’s powerful stuff.

The Win

I’ll consider us successful if we:

  1. Have some people over for dinner by the end of January.
  2. Have some people over at their whim (well, the day after their whim) at least twice in February and March.

The End

About Sarah

10 years ago, I was a computer science student. 5 years ago, I taught kindergarten. 2 years ago, I trained teachers. Now, I'm a technical writer. I have thoughts about most of these things, but most likely I'll just write about neuroses and why I love Mr. Gatti's pizza. Which might be a neurosis.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *