Friday, March 4, 2011

The problem with parties

One of the (many, many) questions I have about minimalism (and the extent to which I am willing to pursue it) is the problem of entertaining. What does a minimalist "party" look like. Will this be another part of my past that gets left on the curb when I have completed my transformation? Our lady of the streamline life, Miss Minimalist, tells us how to de-stress our holidays, but has not fully unwrapped the dinner party or summer shindig.

When I was a child my parents did not throw large Gatsbian parties or elaborate dinners. That is not to say they did not entertain. A "party" was anytime a friend or family member dropped by. My aunts and uncles would show up with a board game or a bag of gourmet coffee beans and my cousins in tow. The adults would stay up until all hours drinking coffee and playing Rooke, Rummy, or Risk. My cousins and I would run all over creation, engaging in games of Sardines or anything else our imagination could muster. Late the next morning we would go out for pancakes or my uncle would cook (biscuits and gravy is a family favorite). The next time the houses would rotate and my parents and I would travel. This is my ideal of minimalist entertaining. The friendship is the focus, not the food or the activities.

Now that I have my own home and my own family, I like to entertain when I can. I have the some goal I inherited from my parents, but I don't always hit the mark. Even though sometimes I try to fit 10 or 12 people around my small dining table, the focus is always my friends.

A quick Google search on "minimalist entertaining," 1,120,000 results including books and blogs on how to entertain minimalists and how to make your home more conducive to minimalists. It seems I am not the only one struggling with this conflict. I would like very much to see how you, my readers-my compatriots, deal with this issue. Please feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments.


  1. I think the question you have to ask yourself is why are you wanting to be "a minimalist"? Are you wanting to be a minimalist for the sake of minimalism or are you doing it to eliminate those things that are cluttering your life so you can focus on what's important?

    If you're doing it just for the sake of being minimal, then by all means, eliminate the parties and leave that part of your life "on the curb".

    However, it seems to me that you feel that entertaining people is an important part of your life (as it is in mine, so I understand). In that case, why struggle with this and why make it a conflict? It shouldn't be. It is the part of your life that being a minimalist elsewhere allows you to put more focus on and enjoy more.

  2. Indeed, Frugal, you have hit the nail on the head. My friends are my family and as such they have a rightful place in my life whether the house is cluttered or empty. The "problem" is where to draw the line. Even though there are only two members of my household, should I consider buying a dining table that seats 8, etc. Because I am still in the stage of removing the absurd and unnecessary, knowing what to remove to improve this aspect as well is a big grey and fuzzy.

    Thanks for the post!

  3. But the food is always good!

    I vote for something like the big dining table from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Cushions on the floor and all...but that's just me.


  4. I <3 U Brett, you always come in with the punch line we need. I'd be happy to do a long table, you wanna help me build one?

  5. Absolutely!

    However, the second you start serving snake, or chilled monkey brains off of it, I am done...