Any solutions to a fear of entertaining/cooking for guests?

bnicebkindApril 18, 2007

Some people have a fear of flying, or a fear of heights or spiders...I have a fear of entertaining/cooking for others. It is the shortness of breath kind of fear. I have no idea where it stems from, but I have read that a lot of people never entertain/cook/host dinners because they fear something will go wrong, and the food will be dry, mediocre, or they fear a loose hair will find its way into a dish, or because of the amount of work involved in getting the house cleaned up and the dinner prepared. Even with people renovating their kitchens with nice appliances, they still are not entertaining in their homes, and only cook for family.

So have any of you overcome this fear and become comfortable entertaining and cooking for friends and acquaintances in your home. I understand many of you are just very comfortable cooking/entertaining for others, and do not even hesitate doing so. But for those of you who this does not come naturally do you overcome this type of a phobia????

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When I am having a lot of people over, I often get very anxious as well. I'll take a Xanax (half or a whole) and that helps calm me. Ask your doctor for a few and then experiment with just a half of one on a day when you have nothing to do and see how it affects you.

Seriously, you will enjoy your party and your guests much more if you are feeling calm and in control. Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 10:16AM
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Here are a couple of things that you might want to try. If you're really scared, try hosting another couple at a restaurant. Invite a few people for a picnic at a nice park, and bring the food in a picnic basket, either from home or catered. Entertain at home, but buy the food, either at a nice deli or take-out place. When you're ready to entertain at home with your own food, choose a menu you're confident with, preferably one that can be done ahead of time. Start with a small group and move up. However you do it, don't be critical of yourself. I went to a luncheon last week at the home of a good friend, and she was so apologetic of the food, quantity, quality, the fact that she'd bought most of it. Everything was just fine, but her apologizing made me a little sorry for her. Guests are a hundred times less critical of your entertaining than you are. I love to entertain, but I have to admit that I get nervous, worried about the food, if everyone will have a good time, etc.
The more you do it, the easier it gets. I'd advise to start small, and work your way up to more elaborate parties. And do have fun!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 11:52AM
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My mother-in-law was so terrified of entertaining that they never had anyone over at all -- not even the kids' friends. She just got herself too worked up. Even now, if she brings in stuff from a deli or something (she doesn't cook) for friends, she gets so nervous my heart breaks for her.

I think her solution is good: she just entertains at restaurants instead. Everyone doesn't have to be a cook/home hostess! You want to reciprocate hospitality, but that definitely doesn't mean at your home, let alone with a home-cooked meal.

If you really want to entertain at home, start with something really easy, like having people over to watch a movie or baseball game, and just serve nuts, chips, beer, wine, and soda. If you want to try a dinner party, have a caterer cook or use carryout. Some of the best cooks/hosts I know do that sometimes!

But ask yourself: do you want to overcome this anxiety because you long to cook and entertain in your home? Or would you be happier just stopping worrying about it and entertaining some other way, as many -- maybe most -- people do?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 8:21PM
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I think we all get the heebie-jeebies because we want everything to go well. These are some things that help me.

1. I make lists for everything--first a guest list, then menu, then shopping list (based on recipes from the menu list). Then I make lists about how far ahead to clean (living room, dining room, bathrooms last). Also a list of when I can start making food ahead of time. I tell you, I am list-crazy.

2. Nothing goes on the menu that I haven't made before and know how it turns out and if it needs tweaked a little.

3. Invite good friends the first few times. They're very forgiving and love a chance to get together.

I had a brunch a couple years ago and invited about 25 people. Wish I'd known Lydia--I sure could've used a Xanax. What was I thinking? I didn't have room for 25 people. As it turned out it was a beautiful day so we ate in the screened porch and everyone had a great time. A lot of people stayed until mid-afternoon visiting. (Could've been the Bloody Mary's!!)

Thing is, if I did it again, I'd still be nervous. We tend toward smaller groups anymore.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 8:38PM
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i don't have any answers for you, but my husband has this very problem and after 23 years i have decided to never entertain again... its NOT WORTH IT! he gets so stressed out that there is nothing i can do to make it go well, i always end up in tears and he RUINS any joy i would ever get. i love to entertain, cook, decorate, laugh and be merry... umm he does not... he only gets happy as the guests start to leave, and by then i detest him so much its best to just forget the whole thing. he is fine with family functions, anything else and its just too horrid to bother with, ever again. not very encouraging am i...
one thing you might do is have a cocktail to relax you... also, realize that no one cares what you serve them, how the house looks, what you are wearing etc., they are there just to see YOU and have a good time. that alone can take all the pressure of you. precook your meals so you have time to visit, have 99% ready before they walk in the door and then just relax with your guests like you are not even the host, you all will have much more fun! start small with close friends and see if you can work you way thru it and have a good time, remember its only food, if something goes wrong you can always call for pizza and laugh it off, i guarantee no one will care one way or the other, they are there to visit with you first. good luck~

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 8:54PM
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This may not be just what you wanted to hear, but the epiphany for me came when someone said to me..."They don't care about YOU! Nor your HOUSE nor if you serve fancy food as long as it's good. How could you be so arrogant as to think thay you are important enough that anyone is looking at a cobweb or the occasional spot on the wine glass?"
And then we found a circle of very good friends who felt comfortabble dropping in....and soon I was comfortable saying "stay for dinner" and digging for something to serve ( I always have home made rolls or bread in the freezer, and greens in the crisper...and I can fake the rest. And there is always liquor, beer and wine...and I can fake a non alocoholic drink). Those times made me realize that people just were happy to have a fun place to be and a host and hostess who offered what they had and served it in a relaxed atmosphere.
If I am planning a dinner, I do try to have as much as possible done ahead...but I don't sweat it if something isn't as planned.
The death of any gathering is a stressed hostess....and I can tell you of times when the hostess retreated in tears to her bedroom, another where the hostess sat down on the floor and cried, another where the hostess screamed at her husband because he forgot olives or something...
I guess my best recommendation for overcoming a fear of entertaining is to just get over yourself. Think aboiiut your guests and the rest will all come together.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 11:32PM
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Lindac, you make a brilliant point, as usual: "The death of any gathering is a stressed hostess .... just get over yourself. Think about your guests and the rest will all come together."

My MIL, described above, is a good example. It is her narcissism (in a nice way! I like her) that gets her so stressed. Recently I heard her giving advice about how not to feel embarrassed on a dance floor, some nonsense about remembering that there are people who aren't as good as you or something. I kept my mouth shut, but I was thinking, "Or you could simply remind yourself that NO ONE IS WATCHING YOU! They didn't come to see what you would do, and they don't really care; they are worrying about THEMSELVES." Young teens live in a self-conscious hell because they haven't figured that out yet; most adults eventually do. Thus my favorite saying, "The agony of adolescence is the knowledge that everyone is looking at you; the agony of middle age is the realization that no one is looking at you." That joke is not about our fading looks, it's about our maturing perspective. Personally, I find it liberating, not agonizing.

But the reason I am posting is that I had another thought for the OP when I remembered that she had written "It is the shortness of breath kind of fear," and had described it as a "phobia" to overcome -- she didn't ask something like, "How do you make sure everything is perfect?" So I am not sure our advice not to worry about perfection is quite on point.

If it's really a phobia, by definition, no amount of rational reasoning is going to help (she already knows all that stuff anyway). But there are ways to treat phobias. I know that many people have had great success with, and I'm not joking, an eye-movement therapy, and it only takes a few sessions, sometimes only one. I'm sure there are other approaches as well.

So if it is important to you to overcome the phobia, consider talking to a social worker or psychologist who treats phobias. But if you don't want to do that, you don't HAVE to. As I wrote above, there really is no shame in just avoiding the situation by entertaining some other way.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 8:15AM
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sudipaw...I can easily entertain at a restaurant, and that is how I have always handled getting together with people. But DH wants to have dinner parties, or even just to be able to have friends over for dinner. And this is where the shortness of breath kind of fear kicks in. And I have come to realize that this has somehow kicked into some kind of a phobia. I would be more comfortable continuing in the path that is in my comfort zone, and does not create this anxiety. And yet, I so admire the type of people that are so comfortable entertaining/cooking for friends, that there is some motivation to somehow try and turn myself into that type of a person. How would I go about facing this fear, and becoming the type of person who can "happily, and comfortably" cook and entertain for friends without hyperventilating and feeling so uptight and uncomfortable, that I make the guests uncomfortable too?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 9:44AM
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Start by having friends over for cocktails before going out for dinner. Know the friends you are inviting and what they drink so you won't be surprized by a request for bitter lemon with mango rum ro some such thing. Because you will be going out to eat you only want to have one or 2 light nibbles and only want to stay for an hour or so.
Before your guests arrive, have the drinks set out, the lights adjusted to a comfortably relaxing level, a little Harry Conick on the speakers...welcome your guests, have the guys make the drinks, sit down, chat and on the dot of one hour....say, well we leave to make our reservation time....then put the glasses in the kitchen, turn off the music and NOT clean up, just leave.
If you can do that, the next step is a light Sunday supper....and you are on your way.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 10:22AM
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There is nothing I like better than going over to someone's house that isn't in perfect shape, and whose cooking, might I say, isn't as good as mine.

I used to think people would prefer that my house and food is perfect. When reality, I think it makes them feel better about themselves and more comfortable if everything is not so perfect. I have a friend that is a brilliant cook; I used to get stressed thinking I had to compete with her; now I realize she loves to be the brilliant cook. If I was as brilliant of a cook, she would not feel as special. As long as the food is edible and the house is decent no one really cares. Stressing yourself out too much about specifics and being perfect doesn't help anything.

And here's a tip, I try not to invite people over too far in advance... Otherwise, it seems I'm cleaning, shopping and cooking for days, if not weeks, ahead. If I do a last minute type of thing there is less time to worry and I feel people won't expect as much. How about inviting someone over for a casual BBQ type event at the last minute and see how it goes? (Even buy some of the food prepared..potato salad, pies, etc, if needed). Another thing I used to hate doing (buying stuff premade), but I find people that have it more together seem to do it all the time. The gathering doesn't have to be perfect.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 11:12AM
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I think it all depends on what you're afraid of, as gellchom points out.

If you are afraid the food won't be good, you could try making something easy and make-ahead that you already have down pat. No matter that your family sees it every week - it will be new to your guests, so they won't mind. Honest!! By making it ahead, you can be sure everything comes out the way you want. If it messes up, toss it and make another, no problem.

Get the appetizers frozen from your local supermarket or Costco or Trader Joe's, whatever works. Or just get decent crackers and a couple of cheeses, like Brie or Havarti, and let folks nosh on that with some grapes or strawberries.

Dessert can be as simple as ice cream and sundae sauces. Or ask one of the guests to bring dessert, they love doing stuff like that. If you know one of the guests likes wine, tell him/her what you're planning to make for dinner and ask them to pick a wine that will match.

In fact, it's a good idea to run your entree past your guests to be sure it won't be a problem with their allergies or any diet restrictions. An email or phone call can take care of this easily.

Make a list so you know when you need to do stuff; e.g., "take cheese out of refrig 1 hr before guests arrive and arrange on a tray", or "reheat casserole (take the wrap off the top!) in 350-degree oven 30 minutes".

Clear the guest bathroom of clutter, even if you have to stick it in a bucket and hide the bucket behind the shower curtain...whatever works! Put out clean towels, sufficient TP, and soap, and voila! that's all done.

OK, if you have time, run the vacuum cleaner real fast over the LR rug. And tell the kids and DH to get their messes off the DR table and LR coffeetable.

Have a vase ready, in case one of your guests brings flowers (or if your DH is a total sweetheart and has brought you some back when he went to get the ice, or the crackers - something always gets forgotten. It's like packing a suitcase - it happens, so you just adjust and go on).

Remember that everyone, even people who LOVE cooking and entertaining as I do, gets together with friends because they want to enjoy the company of people they care for, not because anybody's keeping score of "how elaborate was the dinner menu?"

Somebody once wrote an article about how nervous they were about a dinner party because one of the guests was bringing JULIA CHILDS over! She finally decided to settle on a simple roast chicken. Julia loved it, and told her that chefs mostly prefer to eat simple food when they're not working - they like 'home cooking' just as much as anyone else!

So try to relax and not think in terms of "what people are thinking of you". They are coming to your house because they like you, so they are ready to be pleased, it really will take very little to do so. And even if something flops, just laugh about it - it's one of life's curveballs, and your friends will understand. These are the people you want to create and share life stories with -- not avoid them!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 5:50PM
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Here's an entertaining story, or shall I say nightmare. Years ago, I served a spaghetti dinner (my specialty at the time) to some very close friends in our home. I served the spaghetti in a clear glass pyrex dish. Halway through the meal, my very dear friend, Carol, pulled something hard from her mouth and it was a large chip from the pyrex dish. How scary is that? In her own sarcastically humorous style she asked me if I was trying to kill her and then went on with her meal. I have never forgotten that one.

I do still entertain and have never had anything like that happen again. Thanks God!

I try to have everything done before the guests arrive that can be prepared ahead and I make a mental note of when to heat or cook so the all the dishes are hot and ready at the same time which I think is important.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 11:53PM
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twinkledome...those are the entertaining nightmares I think I am afraid of. Also, a friend was at a restaurant several years ago, and there was a long hair in her salad. She did not notice the hair until she was pulling it out of her mouth. It grossed her out to the point that she will not eat in that restaurant. And it is a very popular restaurant. So perhaps when she told me about that happening, it stuck in my head, and now I worry that some stray hair will find its way into the food somehow. It has not happened to me, but now I think it could, and it will be at the worst possible time, like when I would have a dinner party or something.

Or the concern that the food would turn out dry, or mediocre, or that the conversation would be so stilted and uncomfortable, and it would be an uncomfortable flop.

I know this sounds weird, because in a restaurant (or other social situations) I am comfortable, and we have a really nice time. It is something about entertaining at home that creates the anxiety. That fear that it will go wrong somehow.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 11:10PM
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Okay, so you really are talking about a phobia here, not just perfectionism or control.

So first decide if it's important enough to try to cure it or if you'd rather just say to yourself and your husband, "Sorry, it's just not worth the anxiety it costs me." Like people who have a phobia about airplanes: some force themselves to fly despite the anxiety, some get treatment for the phobia, and some just take the train. There really is nothing wrong with just taking the train (= entertaining in restaurants), you know!

If you decide you want to tackle the phobia, look into professional help. It's not unpleasant and it isn't long term. You don't have to bare your soul on the couch for months, I promise! There are people who know how to deal just with the phobia.

If it's really minor, try your own visualization therapy. I used to do this with my kidz when they were, say, flying alone for the first time: "What if I miss my connection?" "Well, what if you did? What could you do?" "I could ask a gate agent for help ... I could call you... oh. But what if Grandma isn't there to meet me?" "Well, what if she weren't? What could you do?" etc. It made them realize they had a lot more control and competence than they'd realized, so then they had confidence. So can you.

Here are the things you said you fear: glass in the pasta/hair in the salad incident, dry/mediocre food, and stilted conversation. Imagine that you have guests in your home and everything is going fine. Now picture one of those things happening. Then SLOWLY picture what happens next. How do you feel? How could you respond? Then what would happen? You will probably be pleasantly surprised to discover that although none of those situations is desirable, none is a catastrophe, either, and you know better than you fear how to handle both the situation and your own emotions, and then move on with the rest of the evening. Practice these scenes in your mind a few times until they don't seem to loom so large. You will find that you know a lot more than you think about "damage control," whether about the food, the conversation, or your own serenity -- you'd be able to get them all back on track.

Even if there were glass in the pasta -- and there won't be, I promise -- you'd know what to do, and everything would be fine.

One final thought: if it's really your husband who wants to entertain at home, why not let HIM do it?

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 11:10AM
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Gellcom beat me to it...

--Or the concern that the food would turn out dry, or mediocre, or that the conversation would be so stilted and uncomfortable, and it would be an uncomfortable flop.--

To quote you....
And then so what? It's not like you fall out of the sky and die on the mountain. You might be embarrassed...but so what?
again it's all about YOU. Get over that thinking and think about your guests.
Suppose the chicken was dry? Pass the bread again and say..."Well Next time I won't cook it so long"...It's really OK if things aren't perfect, your guests really REALLY don't's you that cares.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 7:28PM
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Lindac: Will you tell me about the hostess who sat on the floor and cried, and the one who ran to her room in tears...what happened that they started crying????

I get the one who yelled at her husband...her body was probably filled with the stress, and she just reacted to the stress, and snapped at him.

But what went wrong that the two others ended up in tears?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 9:19AM
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lindac, don't tell her! :-)

bnicebkind, please, please stop focusing on possible disasters! You're feeding your anxiety.

Separate out your two sets of fears:
1) things that might go wrong
2) how you will feel

The first is fear of events, the second is fear of fear.

Deal with them separately. I suspect that you already know you will be equal to dealing with any mishaps (fear #1). Think about how much of this is fear of feeling anxious and not being able to handle that, or being embarrassed by it. Guess what -- you're equal to that, too!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 10:57AM
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I'll just echo what gellchom & lindac said: essentially, IF these kinds of things go wrong, it's not the end of the world. CLOSE! maybe! But not quite, LOL!

I've served overcooked chicken AND undercooked chicken. Ya. And mostly the guests just ate it and avoided the inedible parts. I did the same. No one said UGH! or freaked out. I knew I'd messed up but just went on as if nothing happened. No biggie!

You might read Julia Child's My Life in France. I don't remember specifically what she said now, but she touched upon her experience with disasters serving guests and said how she handled them. IIRC it was something like just admitting she'd made a mistake, recovering as best she could, and going on with the dinner. I mean, heck, if Julia can make mistakes and move forward (and I'm sure she was dealing with guests who had much higher expectations than our guests have), then surely we can.

My policy when things may be too obvious to be ignored is just to have a sense of humor about it. Even if "recovering" means serving peanut butter sandwiches or ordering in a pizza as you throw out the "disaster", it's definitely something you'll be able to laugh about, and if you have gracious guests, they'll laugh too.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 12:32PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Yes, try to laugh about any goofs. Why do you think other people never make mistakes? That it is only you? It's just a meal! So what if it's burned or isn't done. Try to be more concerned about the actual people and not about impressing them.
And if things go wrong, so what? If they are truly friends they will be nice, kind, LAUGH with you, and not care.
If they make fun of you or are snobby, well, you don't need people like that around you anyway.

Pick a simple menu, do a trial run of the whole thing, just for family. It will give you confidence and let you work out the details. Impressing someone often comes with the presentation. You can make simple food, like grilled chicken and vegetable skewers but serve them on cool looking skewers and garnish the finished platter of kebabs with herbs and served over a platter of yellow rice. It's attractive!

Serve soup in martini glasses, use edible flowers, fold the napkins a beautiful way, have a platter of chocolates after dinner....

I had several women over for dinner several nights ago and one of them, who has kids said to me "I love coming to your house! I know I'll get to drink out of stemmed glasses!"

Doesn't take much to impress! And I had thought my mexican goblets were getting dated looking....

It doesn't matter...

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 10:51PM
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What went wrong with both the woman who sat on the floor and cried and the woman who yelled at her husband and ran upstairs while her guests tried to believe they didn't see anything wrong was they were focusing on themselves and not the guests.
The woman who sat down and cried was hosting a family dinner for about 20 people, and she was stressing sbout getting all the food on the table at the same time. She just felt overwhelmed and instead of saying "I need to sit down for a minute will you mash the potatoes please?" she sat on the floor and cried and took to her room while the rest of the family/guests pretended nothing happened.
The woman who yelled at her husband, was really upset because she was hosting a pot luck 4th of July brunch for 4 families and their kids. The woman who was supposed to bring the eggs brought 2 dozen eggs and a fry pan and said I'll scramble them when we are ready to eat......and she hadn't planned on she yelled at her husband for something about olives and went upstairs while the rest of us ate....again focusing on how she wanted the brunch to go and not how to make her guests feel comfortable.
I can't begin to tell you the number of times someone has stopped by to bring something or just to visit for a little and I will say...stay for dinner...go home and get the kids and I'll fix something. I have done everything from thawing something in the freezer and throwing a can of tomato sauce over it and cooking some pasta to taking some sort of stale hamburger buns and buttering them and seasoning with Lowrey's and toasting.
Get over yourself....just do it! It's not about YOU...and what you do if you drop the roast on the floor or accidentally set a chipped glass or serve overcooked's the spirit of graciousness and sharing that counts.
The times that I have complained about a hostess was when they forgot all about the the woman who invited about 8 to dinner, set the table in a very lovely way..set out the glasses and liquers in the bar but didn't buy ice. Or the woman who tried to fullfil all her social obligations at once and had a huge outdoor party in their machine shed, without any fans on the hottest day in July....and asked you to bring your own chair if you wanted to sit. All she did was contact the grocery's catering department and buy trays of BBQ beef, buns potato salad, slaw and their grocery store cookies...Oh yes and abuy several kegs of beer. She was thinking about paying back social obligations in the easiest way possible.
Entertaining is about guests having a good time, not about showing off your new house, nor how beautifully you can set a table, nor how perfectly you can cook a souffle nor paying back obligations...but all of those things are a part of the whole, but the guest and throwing a party or giving a dinner with a view to their maximum enjoyment is the secret to being a good hostess.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 12:08PM
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I can't remember the whole story, so someone feel free to correct me if I'm remembering wrong, since I heard this third-hand. I'm pretty sure it happened on the original Julia Childs cooking show; a long, long time ago before anybody had even thought about coining the phrase 'celebrity chef'.

She roasted a whole suckling pig. Came out beautiful, all brown and crispy and gorgeous looking. BUT - she couldn't carve it. Apparently she attacked it with everything she had in the TV kitchen, but no go. That roasted pig just wasn't getting carved!

So there she is, being watched by MILLIONS of PBS viewers. She just threw up her hands, shrugged, and said, "Well, I'm sure you'll have better luck with yours than I'm having with this one! Enjoy!"

Now, what could you do if this happened to you? Well, if it was my house, I'd open another bottle of wine very fast, announce that the entree had just turned into an expensive table centerpiece, and make some fast grilled cheese sandwiches (or something similar)!

Shared laughter is the best thing to bond over. Good luck, as you've seen here, there are so many ways you have to deal with this phobia, and it isn't that unusual, so don't feel bad about it. If you can't entertain for whatever reason, don't apologize for it. It's work, and even if some folks enjoy doing it, that doesn't mean that you have to also.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2007 at 12:38PM
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Thank you for sharing your advice, and your experiences. I have read several times that many people are afraid to entertain people for dinner in their home...some, because it is just so much work, and others because either they cannot cook, or they are afraid to cook for people other than their family. So I know that I am not the only one who will benefit from your advice and experiences.

It wonder why some people are just so comfortable throwing a dinner party, while others go into sheer panic at the thought of even the smallest of gatherings in their own home. Someone I know tells me that she throws a lunch for 75 people and does not seems to bat and eye. Her home is not big, but she must use the yard or something too. I wish that I had that gift, or had that personality.

I have also read that people are renovating their homes with beautiful kitchens, and still cannot bring themselves to have people over for dinner. It would be a fun topic to discuss anyway.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 3:07PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Bnice, I feel that you are posting here to find sympathy, not a solution. Many people have given you very good advice and your life would be so much more rewarding if you would apply the ideas instead of focusing on what you think you can't do.
Stop going over in your mind what you fear and concentrate on what you can do.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 9:54AM
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bumblebeez... I don't need sympathy, and I posted because I needed a solution and was given some really good advice, and fully plan on taking the advice that was given and giving this a try and just see how it goes.

If you read my last post I wrote: "I know that I am not the only one who will benefit from your advice and experiences".

Anyway, because I so admire this ability to entertain, and people who are so comfortable in this role, I am going to tackle this fear head on and see how it goes. I imagine it will take some time to actually get comfortable in this role. Thanks again everyone for your well thought out advice!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 9:24AM
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Good luck! I'm sure everything will go swimmingly, and your guests will be gracious enough to forgive any bumps! Please come back and tell us how it goes, we love to hear success stories!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 5:43PM
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susanjf_gw you like having people over? is it more than food prep? since my surgery and meds, the thought of having to clean, "making" dh vac (i'm not supposed to)precludes what to have/serve...i look at the messy pillows, my books, and deep sigh!

often instead of dinner now, we will do brunch, as we pretty much keep early hours on the weekends.

my ds1 has a wonderful dinner we alway ask for when we have a gathering at his home...crockpot flank steak in bbq sauce, purchased (has to be costco, lol) potato salad, fruit platter, and a green salad. dil will make brownies and they always have the "deep" sink full of iced drinks for self serve.

hope you can enjoy the first dinner, when YOU decide (with HELP from dh!)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 8:14PM
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In my other life, we had done a major remodel and put in a totally new kitchen and family room. When it was about finished, friends began to stop in, around suppertime (I was working full-time) to see it all. Since I had no choice, I actually just added more potatoes to whatever I was making and good times were had by all. After 20 years of marriage, I finally realized that they were there to spend time with us, not concentrating on the meal.

Also during that time, another great party was when kids were in teens. Had a Christmas night "decompression party". Light munchies, drinks. No pressure. No kids. Huge success.

In my more recent life, DH wanted to have a party to celebrate our new patio. I said OK, this is how I will do it (so I could have a good time too). Went to Trader Joes and Costco and got one of everything munchies. It was a huge success and I didn't have to agonize over a menu. Help yourself bar was a big help too......

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 6:33PM
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I have a suggestion that wasn't mentioned yet. If you have a friend you can confide in, tell her about your phobia and have her and her husband (if she has one) as your first dinner guests. That way you won't feel like you have to perform if the guests are already in on your secret. It's a good way to ease into entertaining.

I'd also make a fabulous dessert one or two days in advance. It's always nice to finish a dinner up on a high note.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2007 at 6:47PM
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I enjoy having friends over and I set a welcoming table that lets them know I think this evening with them is special.
I always serve foods that can be prepared ahead of time and can be kept warm in the oven. I have serving pieces that are ovenproof and that makes things easier for me.

I have all the pots and pans washed and the dishwasher empty for afterdinner cleanup.
I serve "buffet style" and each guest serves himself.

The food served is something that's simple for me and is generally no-fail. I make sure it's presented so it has eye appeal.

I used to be real nervous about entertaining and made myself ill over entertaining until a friend of mine said she was uncomfortable about reciprocating because I intimidated her. She said I made everything look so easy and the food was so good she could never measure up. And this was a friend I considered to be the ultimate hostess.

Hearing her say this made me realize I was doing a decent job and I've been fine ever since.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 1:42PM
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So, Monablair, what are some of your favorite party menus? I have a dinner party for 8 quickly approaching and still don't know what to serve. We were recently at the homes of two of the couples for dinner (just us, not both couples were there) and each had beef tenderloin. Don't want to do the same thing, but want something good and somewhat special. It's to celebrate one's retirement.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 10:16PM
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Maggi, I'm not sure what kinds of food you or your guests are comfortable eating but here are some of my easy favorites. My guests generally enjoy meals that aren't your typical steak and potato items. And as I mentioned, I like to serve dishes that can be prepared ahead of time that I can keep warm.

1.BBQ shrimp; white rice;steamed broccoli; crusty bread and a tossed salad.

2.Eye of Round cooked Spanish boliche style; white rice; frozen baby artichokes; Caprici salad with tomato, mozzarella cheese and avocado

3. Roasted chicken with store bought mojo sauce; roasted potato cubes; fresh spinach w/mushrooms and garlic..drizzled with olive oil

4. Scallop and shrimp with a garlic basil sauce over linguini; string beans; salad

5. Chicken cutlets breaded Italian style; farfalle pasta tossed with fresh garlic; basil and grated parmesan cheese, zuccini with garlic marininara sauce; salad

6. Seafood gumbo; white rice; crusty bread and salad

7. Crab filled crepes drizzled with a white wine cream sauce; fresh asparagus; rolls and salad

8. Lasagna; roasted Italian sausage, string beans, salad

9. Linguini with clam sauce; fresh green vegetable, salad and crusty bread

For dessert I often make a ricotta cake or a flan and offer a fresh fruit compote for those who aren't into desserts.

Do any of these appeal to you?


    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 9:53PM
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Thanks for going to all that trouble. They all sound so very tasty but I'm dying here for numbers 4 and 5!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 4:55PM
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Maggie, would you like me to Email the recipes? Those 2 selections are really easy and tasty.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 6:12PM
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That would be great, Mona. I'd really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 9:16PM
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Maggie, I'm going to send a test Email to make sure it's going through. Please Email me in response to let me know you've received it.
When is your dinner party?


    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 9:47PM
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