I’ve been keeping a gatherings journal for nearly two years. Originally I thought the purpose of this dinner party diary was to keep a record of the recipes I served and the guests in attendance – and it was – but after countless events, Sunday suppers with extended family, and holiday meals, I quickly realized my obsessive note taking was also a way to document the details of the meals and the moments that were special to us, and to take note of important information that will make future entertaining and hosting easier for myself.
For example, three reasons I keep my journal now are:
- It allows me to track the food I served, as well as the guests in attendance. This is a great way to make sure I don’t duplicate dinner recipes when inviting certain people over. Just the same, it’s also a wonderful way to take note if someone really loved a particular recipe, because then I can be sure to serve it to them again in the future.
- A dinner party diary allows me to make notes on the special dietary restrictions and food allergies of some of my guests. This may be helpful to remember in advance if I’m hosting my husband’s work colleagues or acquaintances that aren’t eating around our table frequently.
- If, like me, you might forget how long it took your 25 lb turkey to cook last Christmas, making a note of the cooking times and temperatures for once-a-year-items in your journal will save you time and stress when it comes to making the meal the next time around.
I also like knowing that on my oldest son’s 15th birthday we had a dinner party on the third Sunday in April and the menu that day was pulled pork on buns, maple-bourbon baked beans, coleslaw, homemade pickles, and kettle chips. For dessert, I made a candy explosion cake, impressing the teenage birthday boy (no easy task), his brother and nine cousins in attendance. My hope is that in ten to fifteen years we’ll enjoy reminiscing over the parties of the past, as we continue to plan new ones for the future.
Do you keep a journal? What do you record in yours? Also, how do you make sure you don’t repeat the same dish or menu when feeding your friends and family?