The Dinner Party Trend to Expect in 2019

For Christmas one year, we got my Norwegian grandma a book by Alice Waters, 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering. Alice Waters’ unique cooking style established a menu at her restaurant that serves the most delicious produce only when it’s in season. This reminded us of my grandma’s holistic philosophies in the kitchen that celebrate the joy of gathering. While the Scandinavian way of joyful living has had a recent influence on traditional American practices, here is the dinner party trend to expect in 2019.

Alice Waters’ book, written in 2011, describes the experience of “family meal” in her restaurant. Before the restaurant opens for dinner service, her staff shares a casual family-style meal together. Waters’s sentiment has proved to be ahead of its time now 8 years later. Encouraging this mindful practice of gathering with intention is now a trend on the rise in American culture.

Family meal, as described by Waters, isn’t fancy. In fact, it’s not focused on presentation at all. The chefs and cooks place their pots and pans directly onto the table. They partake in the act of celebrating good, simple food as a community.

Recently, I started adopting similar practices from Water’s description of family meal. It has changed the whole dining experience in my home! Hosting with traditional rules and restrictions, scheduled courses, or strict etiquette guidelines, formal dinner parties are proving to be a thing of the past. With rising trends in American culture that celebrate community and personal connection, this recent shift has changed the way we enjoy dinner parties. Rather then pretentious undertones, a more relaxed atmosphere deepens the connection with our food, our relationships, and our gratitude for the moment.

In a recent study conducted by PR Newswire, “77% of Americans would rather eat a homemade meal than eat out in 2019”. With contributing factors that include prioritizing our health, quality time with family, and cost savings, it’s no surprise that home cooked meals will become more common in the upcoming year.

Meanwhile, simple living lifestyle shifts, including the Danish practice, “hygge” (pronounced hoo-ga), have been making their way into American culture throughout the past few years. The focus creates a conscious coziness around an inspired aesthetic as a fundamental part of the Scandinavian culture. While I once thought hygge was solely a style of decorating with cozy candles and soft blankets, the concept leads straight into a dinner table focused around togetherness. These gatherings celebrate quality time, mindful presence, and meaningful conversations (meaningful phones at the table and tv on in the background are not happening here).

Family-style dinners are the key to enhancing a sense of community in 2019. Through relaxed presentations, thoughtfully prepared food, and a peaceful ambience, this year we aim to value the wholeness of each experience. As 2019 unfolds, I encourage you to put your pots, pans, and cutting boards right onto the dining table for family-style serving. With this change in atmosphere, we can connect deeply with each other and enjoy the essence of each moment.

Check out “Everything You Need to Host a Sustainable Dinner Party” and “Simple Tips to get Ready for a Small Dinner Party.”

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Forty Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering by Alice Waters

In Forty Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering, Alice takes readers on her journey from the humble and visionary beginnings of the restaurant, through its rise and the acclaim, to the Café and the influential Chez Panisse Foundation.


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