entertaining · indulging

Dinner Group Gathering

Dinner group
My neighbor baked this beautiful pie! Yes, I love dinner group.

At our last dinner group get together, which we hosted in our backyard, we planned a summer meal for the evening. Even though our dinner group met over Labor day weekend, we carried on like it was the middle of July. Well, that is until it got chilly and dark. So dark that it was hard to see what we were eating! Fortunately, by the time it was that dark, we were eating dessert and you don’t need much light to eat delicious homemade blueberry pie and ice cream.

Dinner group

At the beginning of our dinner group gathering, we should have toasted the start of our 9th year of frugal, fancy, and fun get togethers! We started this group back in September 2004 as a way to socialize and share meals with friends who live close by and not spend a fortune on going out to restaurants. But instead of celebrating our anniversary, we were too busy enjoying the food, the gorgeous September evening, and trying to jockey for the spot closest to the fire.

Dinner group by the fire

Here’s how our dinner group works. The hosting couple is responsible for making the entrée and choosing the main course, which sets the menu or “theme” for the evening. After choosing the main part of the meal, the host assigns the following dishes to the other participants:

  • appetizer
  • salad
  • dessert

Sometimes the hosting couple will chose recipes for everyone to follow which forces us all to try a new recipe or perhaps make one up. Either way, it’s delicious and everyone in our group is a food-lover so it’s always a tasty – and fun! – evening.

Wine tags
We used the stylish wine charms I made from estate sale treasures.

As hosts, we chose my husband’s famous clam bake recipe. It’s a seafood stew that’s a good meal to eat outside. We were covered in fish broth up to our elbows!

Clam bake ingredients

It’s spicy and has vegetables and seafood.

Corn and potatoes

Everything goes into a big pot and it gets cooked outside.

Clam bake

Since we had most food groups covered in the seafood stew, our other guests brought pan seared peppers, gazpacho, and bread. I was too busy chatting and enjoying myself to snap pictures of these tasty morsels.

Cooking outside

Cooking outside and a clam bake – this was the easiest dinner group ever for me! Yes, I set the table, got the kids organized for the evening, and reminded my husband to stock the wood for our outdoor fire. Our kids made dinner for another couple’s kids in our dinner group and then they all watched a movie. They didn’t need much help – just reminders to clean up the kitchen!

I also fixed up a new chair for the night. This chair was another “free” chair that someone had tossed out. Honestly, I refused it at first because as we all know, I have a chair obsession and I’ve been trying to tone it down. But no – my enabler otherwise known as my husband – put the chair in the back of his car and brought it home for me. It’s super-duper cute and wasn’t too much work to start and finish.

My newest chair
My newest chair. It’s double layer fabric that matches our hammock.

Our next dinner group won’t be outside by the fire. We’ve settled into fall, cold, and rain!

What’s your favorite time of year to entertain? Are you in a dinner group?

Go Gingham related links:

Directions to sew the tablecloth we used – flag day tablecloth
Frugal and stylishly wine charms – easy to make yourself
How to organize a dinner group – why not start one? It’s frugal, fancy & fun!
Last summer’s dinner group gather is here and the appetizer we brought is here
Our dinner group followed Bon Appetit’s menu last fall
Dinner group in spring – well, it felt like winter
The appetizer – white bean dip – brought for dinner group

11 thoughts on “Dinner Group Gathering

  1. What I love about your blog is that it’s written by (and for) real people. I love that your photos aren’t styled to death. I mean, I appreciate a beautiful photo as much as anyone. And I love some blogs just because they are full of fun eye-candy. But I really appreciate you showing us a realistic and meaningful way to share good times with the people we care about in a way that feels do-able to someone like me (busy and not particularly talented in the home arts). Looks like you had a wonderful evening.


    1. Rita, thank you. What a nice compliment – all around – and yes, do able. Let’s face it, we all love Martha Stewart for the inspiration but she has a an unlimited budget and a staff. I’m trying to live the good life on less – less money, less work or effort, and less stress. If the idea is to enjoy our friends and socialize, then that’s what I want to do and not worry so much about everything being a certain way or going into debt to achieve that goal.
      Being able to entertain, not over spend and still have fun even when I’m the hostess is what it’s all about.
      I did make my friends promise to remind me to take pictures of their gorgeous dishes before we all devour them all down next time!
      Thanks, Rita. I’m truly touched by your comment 🙂


    1. Thank you, Nicole-Lyn and I’m so glad you’re a new follower. Your blog is gorgeous and the pictures of you and your husband are very nice. You make a handsome couple!
      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.


  2. I love your dinner group! I have been meaning to start one in my neighborhood. It is really hard to keep the group small and everyone is used to including kids for all of our parties – but this may be the time to try something new. The kids are starting to have their own plans! Do you break apart the veggies in the seafood stew after they are cooked or serve as is? Looks like a great evening!


    1. Annie,
      It was a fun evening and sadly that was the last fire of the season!
      As far as kids at the dinner group, this is an adult gathering. Even though our kids had other kids over, I’m not sure we’ll continue with that trend. I’m fine with my kids sitting at home by themselves when we have our dinner group. I feel like I spend enough time making sure they’re doing what they enjoy and having fun. It’s important for kids to see that adults need to have events that don’t revolve around them.
      When kids were younger, we got a sitter even though it was on our block. While I enjoy socializing with kids or another family, this group has been adults only and I like it that way.
      Back to the dinner – we only chopped the really big potatoes but left the corn as you see it in the photos. Some of the potatoes broke apart while they were cooking.
      We wrote the recipe and will make one more time before posting it. It’s a great meal but a good one to eat outdoors!
      Thanks, Annie!


  3. That is such a beautiful pie – I bet they love seeing the photo on your blog. Your dinner party group sounds like so much fun.

    We don’t quite have the ability to do the same – our best friends are flung all over the province, but we do have a party in the summer and another on the same weekend in November every year. It’s always at our house, but we are a good central location and love to do it. Entertaining at home always seems like a nicer alternative to eating out – you re sharing parts of your life with your friends.


    1. Heidi, our dinner group is really fun and something I always look forward to and you’re right – it is nicer to hang out at someone’s home. Your party sounds excellent and it’ll be here soon since it’s practically November! How did that happen?
      Thanks, Heidi.


  4. It started years ago – my husband has been a volunteer with Ducks Unlimited for many years, and we have a group of friends that come down for the weekend to attend a fundraising banquet each year. They stay for the weekend and we have a dinner party/early Christmas gathering every year – the second last weekend of November. It gives up something to look forward to in November. And an excuse to clean the house top to bottom.


    1. Me too, Kristen!
      I love being on a regular routine to see friends otherwise life keeps us too busy and time can get away and before you know it – you haven’t seen friends in too long. That’s what happens to me! We try and schedule our next gathering the night of or soon after to keep them happening!
      Thanks, Kristen.


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