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We all have to eat dinner, why not do it together?

Earlier this year, Travis and I were having a casual phone conversation and discussing being intentional despite our #balancednotbusy schedules to connect with our friends that are couples. Married, engaged, dating, young or old; we wanted to ensure that in 2016 we carved out time to see all of them.

We both love food and we appreciate an at home dining experience, so it was a natural fit to invite friends over for dinner. Each month a different set of friends.

If you know me, you know that I can’t just make a quick meal and send out a text message to invite friends over. I believe that when entering a home, you should immediately feel the warmth. What scents do you smell when you walk thru the door, were you greeted with a smile? Did the host fill your hand with a welcome cocktail?

So it was in that moment that our monthly dinner party series was born and my to do list grew with preparation tactics: meal planning, decor options, monthly themes, etc…

We launched in February and the invited couples feasted on an Italian themed meal, swapped travel stories and enjoyed the never ending bottles of wine.

Guests getting to know each other before the February dinner. Photo Credit: Kayla Parchia

Guests getting to know each other before the February dinner. Photo Credit: Kayla Parchia

March was a beast. Work, travel, planning a baby shower, family visits…you name it and it probably happened in March. We took a month off from our dinner parties. My inner planner was bummed to mess with the cadence, yet I value balance and I know when it’s time to rest and take a break.

We came back strong last night. Four couples, scenic views of West Midtown from the roof and nonstop laughs. It was a beautiful April night in Atlanta.

In great company. Photo Credit: Kayla Parchia

In great company at the April dinner. Photo Credit: Kayla Parchia

Two down and eight more to go, my two cents on how to prepare for a evening with friends:

* Stockpile ideas from Pinterest and other DIY sites. I’m always ready with a theme or decor even in the midst work deadlines and the other activities that fill my calendar because I have a bulletin board of ideas that I would like to try
* Manage your own expectations. I’m a planner so I like timely RSVPs. On the other hand, I know that sometimes things don’t go as planned. I gently nudge my guests via text and “throw them a bone” if they are unsure if they can make it. The upside is that they can be re-invited to a future dinner and by giving them a pass I can invite another couple and continue to prepare for those that plan to attend
* Hire a photographer. Without even making a big fuss, our guests don’t have their phones in hand all night. I’d like to think that in addition to wanting to be present, that they are also not concerned about photos because the photographer is hard at work (+ they can trust that I will post the images on social media)

Time for dinner! Photo Credit: Kayla Parchia

Time for dinner! Photo Credit: Kayla Parchia

* Divide and conquer. Travis is the perfect co-host! He makes the welcome cocktail, handles the “I need directions phone calls”, entertains our guests while I finish up the meal and participates in a debriefing conversation (yes we debrief because we want to be the best hosts that we can be!). Because he focuses on the above, I am free to hone in on the meal, decor and overall experience.

Yes, by adding a monthly dinner party series my to do list continues to grow yet in every task I find my balance.