My friend Julie is full of brilliant ideas when it comes to gathering people around her table. She regularly convenes with her extended family, whether for special occasions or just because it’s Tuesday and they feel like getting together’but every once in a while she also comes up with ideas for including other friends, and even strangers. She’s the only person I know who willingly opens her home up to those she doesn’t know, and as far as I know the result has been nothing but positive.
The occasion I most familiar with is one she wrote about in our book, Gatherings. A few summers ago, she decided to host a pie party, and it was such a hit the story landed in the pages of Ladies’ Home Journal magazine. I love the idea so much I wanted to share it with you, if you’re looking for a simple, cost effective and unique way to entertain before the summer is over.
Here’s how to host your own pie party this season:
- Invite as many people as you like with the following set of instructions: come over and bring a pie.
- Saturday or Sunday afternoons are a great time for an occasion like this as it’s definitely a kid-friendly way to entertain, and parents won’t have to worry about securing babysitters.
- Be sure to mention that the pies can be homemade or store-bought, and either sweet or savoury (meat pies, veggie pies, quiche). Mini pies are also perfectly acceptable.
- While you could coordinate who’s bringing what kind of pie to ensure you don’t end up with a dozen apple pies, that takes some of the fun out of the simplicity of the event. Potlucks are meant to be a surprise buffet of choices, so take your chances and have faith that you’ll end up with a wide variety of options.
- Set up a large table for housing the pies. Fold some blank cards and leave them on the table with a Sharpie so that everyone can make a sign identifying their pie.
- Have plenty of small plates and forks available. Plastic will do, but you can also borrow from friends and family if you prefer. Or keep a bin in your basement filled with mismatched forks you pick up from the thrift shop for occasions like this.
- Keep a roll of masking tape handy and stick names on the bottom of the pie plates as guests arrive ‘ there will be a lot of empty ones at the end of the party and many will look the same; you’ll want to return the proper pie plates to their rightful owners.
- As the host, you’re in charge of supplying the whipped cream (beat it with icing sugar to provide some stability as it’ll sit out on the table for a bit) and vanilla ice cream. It won’t hurt to also have some lemonade, Prosecco and/or sangria on hand, as well.