If you are lucky to live long enough, your music and your hairstyle and your kitchen comes back into fashion again. (Fingers crossed on the kitchen over here.) Not everything returns but a lot of it does. My children are traipsing about their summer wearing white Reeboks that they find very original but they are the same shoes my ballet teacher wore in 1985 and I think they belong on ballet teacher feet. Apparently cottage cheese is ‘back’ now although I’m not sure where it went in the first place. Cargo pants are also back in style and who doesn’t love tons of pockets? Some things really were such a horrific idea the first time, they should never be brought back in my opinion. For example, if ultra low-rise jeans and the word ‘unprecedented’ go away forever, we probably will be better for it.
I really want to bring back the dinner party. Not a 2019 dinner party, although those were beautiful. I definitely spent several hours fanning out paper thin radish slices and artfully arranging olives, herbed Marcona almonds and red globe grapes on various charcuterie boards. But in 2019, having friends over often felt like a huge undertaking. I felt some pressure to make it all perfect. Not sure if it was my mental state or my inability to look away from Pinterest, but it became a whole thing just to have another family over for a burger. Cleaning the house. Planning the menu. Multiple grocery store trips to find just the right something. Leaf blowing the yard and mowing the lawn and deadheading the potted plants. Moving the lacrosse nets out of the walkway. Shuffling the teenagers' cars like puzzle pieces so people can get in and out of the driveway. It took way too much effort.
And then there was a very long spell with no parties at all. And now that I’ve had plenty of time to reflect… guess what?
Nobody cared. Not the people who loved us. Nobody expected our house to be in Architectural Digest because AD does not feature homes with a dog toy in every room. Nobody gave a judgmental thought to my sad, thirsty garden or the seven bags of open chips in the kitchen except for me, and the party should never be about me in the first place.
Not one person needs a dinner or a life that is influencer worthy in order for it to be joy filled. I want to bring back the 70’s dinner party. I’m ready for the 70’s spirit again. The relaxed dinners with mysterious things suspended in Jello and multiple meatball choices and breezy dresses and low expectations for house tidiness and high expectations for fun.
Maybe the 70’s were laid back because they didn’t know they had to survive the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s only to be smacked with a pandemic. But it was simpler. Slower. Less comparison to unrealistic ideals. I did some research and maybe we don’t have to bring back all the food. There is a delightfully entertaining Instagram site called ‘70’s dinner party’ that both inspires and terrifies me. We can skip the mayonnaise centered appetizers and bologna-themed items. They did show a recipe for something called a Pickle Burro which is a large dill pickle fashioned to look like a donkey. Nobody knows why. I’m going to make one though, he looks so cute.* However, the vibe of the 70’s dinner party is what I’m after. Good music. Fun people. Small crockpots and crackers flung into a bowl and cheese dips. 45 minutes of prep for 5 hours of being together. We can play games. We can sit around and talk and laugh and have lemon sherbet for dessert. And it will be nothing, I mean nothing, that social media would be interested in promoting. We aren’t curating a glossy marketing plan, we would just be curating memories.
Consider joining me and invite your people over. Get ready to give and get some casual invitations also known as PHONE CALLS and get ready to bring a pineapple cheese ball. And you know what would complement a pineapple cheese ball? A Harvey Wallbanger.
*Note: Several pickles were harmed in the making of this project. Several.
Jen Fortner is a freelance writer who enjoys asking friends and strangers far too many questions. She spends her spare time sitting in inclement weather watching youth sports, traveling, cooking, and searching for the very best baked goods. She lives in Shorewood, Minnesota with her husband, three children and the most spoiled dog.