Dinner Parties Are The New Cure For Your Sunday-Night Blues
BY SUSAN GOLDBERG
Photo credit: Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon via Visual hunt / CC BY-ND
Sep 20, 2017
When I was a kid, I used to suffer from what I called “Sunday night feeling” — a sort of existential dread that took over the end of winter weekends. Sunday nights felt like the end of the party, all undone homework and loose ends, the spectre of a week’s worth of carpools and tuna fish sandwiches looming ahead of me. I’d wander the darkening house, bored and slightly looped from the previous evening’s sleepover, flipping through books and TV channels and trying to shake the creeping feeling that nothing fun might ever happen again.
Why, yes, in fact, I was a slightly dramatic child. Thank you for asking.
I’m talking about inviting over a couple of families with their own rangy kids for, say, a big pot of soup and some bread, or lasagna and salad, or chili, or curry and rice as I did last Sunday.
Now that I'm a parent, “Sunday night feeling” has taken on a different dimension. After a full weekend with kids, Sunday evenings are the homestretch, the final push between the chaos of play dates, projects, birthday parties and soccer practices, and the blessed quiet of Monday morning. Sunday evenings hover on the brink between coziness and ranginess, and between sibling revelry and sibling rivalry.
But I’ve finally come up with a cure for the ennui of Sunday nights. It’s a simple, but profound, fix: Sunday-night dinner parties.
I’m not talking about anything formal here. The goal, after all, is less rather than more stress. I’m talking about inviting over a couple of families with their own rangy kids for, say, a big pot of soup and some bread, or lasagna and salad, or chili, or curry and rice as I did last Sunday. The great thing about Sunday dinner is that you have the luxury of prepping and simmering all weekend long (or at least between play dates and hockey). Whatever you make, though, make lots and lots of it. Make enough to feed your crowd, for lunches the next day, and for dinner some other night down the road. (Even make enough, ahem, to take to somebody else’s potluck dinner party the following weekend). Someone will bring a salad; someone else will bring dessert. There may or may not be wine. Cut up a big plate of vegetables and leave it out for the kids and I swear they will eat them all and ask for more.
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Invite everyone to arrive just as the afternoon light is starting to fade, say 4:30 p.m. or so. Put out some board games, hide the TV remotes, pull out the basket of Lego in the basement, and set out some cheese and crackers. Invite people you think will like each other, or people who already do. Bonus points if they know how to make wicked naan bread or onion bhaji, like my recent dinner guests did.
The kids will roam in different packs down to the basement (and whatever else you do, don’t look at the chaos in the basement for at least a couple of days after the party is over) and then up to the bedrooms and back again, detouring through the kitchen to get more veggies and crackers. Go buffet style, or sit down altogether if your table is big enough. Even gather the kids around the dining room table while the grown-ups stand happily at the kitchen island, open a second bottle of wine, and have real conversations. It’s all good.
The best thing? It’s Sunday night, which means that by 8:30 p.m. everyone will hightail it out of your home with their tired and full and happy children, who will fall into bed immediately and without protest. If you’ve timed things well, you’ll be able to turn on the dishwasher just as everyone’s leaving, throw your ingenious leftovers into some Tupperware, and go to bed early enough to read a few pages of your novel. (Kidding! Nobody has the energy to read a novel on a Sunday night — just go to sleep.)
“We should do this every week,” said my nine-year-old at the end of our Indian dinner. It’s a laudable goal, but for now I’m going to aim for Sunday-night dinner parties at least once a quarter, which leaves me with plenty of free weekends to come to your house for dinner. I make a wicked chicken curry.
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