Anyone Home? The Art Of Unexpected Entertaining
How to embrace the simple joy of having people over again? Forget fancy dinner parties and celebrity-inspired entertaining, humble is the new black in hospitality.
During the peak of Covid lockdowns, the art of “popping in” on someone had become as redundant as hotel buffets; a seemingly lost social relic of the past.
Our innocence, along with a decent dose of spontaneity was lost this past year, but as we slowly return to our regular programming, I for one am desperate to reengage with an in-person chinwag over a cuppa, rather than a fuzzy FaceTime call.
And as we approach longer days and warmer nights, the call of the cicadas and waft of mosquito repellent is finally luring us back into the habit of “having people over.”
That’s right, not “hosting” or even “entertaining”, just the simple joy of having your neighbour unexpectedly pop in; or inviting a colleague over after work without even being sure if last night’s dishes are still stacked in the sink; or catching up with some friends for a quick afternoon drink only to fire up the barbecue hours later for dinner.
This new era of entertaining isn’t about creating the most Instagram worthy-dinner party with seven courses, matched wines, layered crockery and handmade linen napkins.
This is about blissfully informal fare, enjoying the company of others and using paper towel in lieu of napkins. Because the best part is, it’s not planned for.
Even as a child I remember our family calling into friend’s houses for a “quick visit” only for all the kids to be sprawled on the loungeroom carpet four hours later watching Hey Hey its Saturday while the parents sat at the kitchen table talking and laughing. They were not fancy nights. They weren’t for the benefit of posting about it to social media. No one had dressed up. In all honesty, the most decadent thing we would have eaten was a supermarket vol-au-vent. For the most part it would have been chips and dips.
Of course, there are some key products that allow us to accommodate friends and family in an unfussy, laidback way such as local wines, spirits and mixers, grab-and-go snack selections and an aromatic tea or coffee on constant standby; as well as homewares that create a cosy environment such as large platters and ottomans that double as a side table or extra seating.
It is undeniable that there is something particularly Australian about hearty and generous hospitality — even when it’s not planned for. It’s in our DNA to make people feel at home; to always have enough to share among an unexpected guest or two. And it’s a gesture that is universally appreciated for the privilege that it is: an open invitation to be treated as part of the family.
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ABOUT THE WRITER
Anna Byrne grew up in Bendigo in regional Victoria before moving to Melbourne where she enjoyed a decade-long career as a columnist for the Herald Sun, becoming one of Australia’s most recognised lifestyle voices. Renowned for her insightful and humorous musings on the world of fashion and beyond, her take on style is both witty and refreshingly non-elitist. Anna loves musicals, McLaren Vale Chardonnay, the Melbourne footy club and can quote Muriel’s Wedding, verbatim. A passionate campaigner for small business, Anna is excited to join Buy Aussie Now as a freelance contributor.