How hospitable are you? Sometimes the thought of asking people round to ours, of agreeing a date, planning a menu which accommodates everyone’s preferences, deciding on who to invite & who’ll get on well together, tidying the house; all of these can add up to a pretty formidable list. It’s a wonder anyone gets invited anywhere!
But summer lends itself well to sharing food. Eating outdoors can be a relaxed affair and often people will bring contributions of food and drink, whilst the men typically commandeer the barbecue, enthusiastically cooking anything that comes their way and even happily relocating to the garage should the weather take a turn for the worse!
Settling on the time of day is often an easy and uncomplicated process too, from a weekend ‘come over any time after midday’ to a weekday late afternoon invitation to ‘join us for a bite to eat’. Children often enjoy playing happily together whilst the adults sit wherever they like and chat, dining off a miscellaneous assortment of plates and perhaps even relishing eating with their fingers.
These easy-going occasions are often surprisingly successful, reinforcing how much fun can be had from sharing your summer food without the need to make too much of a fuss.
Neighbours can be the forgotten gems in our lives, as they quietly collect our parcels, help out in emergencies and notice if something’s awry. Inviting them round for a summer meal can be a relaxed way of thanking them, enhancing those relationships and getting to know each other a little better. Our regular everyday lives may not lend themselves to much more than a quick smile or greeting as we go about our days, tend the garden or wash the car. Inviting neighbours round for a few hours over food presents an opportunity to improve those relationships in an informal way.
Some family members many not be easy to entertain, especially in these days of extended, eclectic relationships with exs, in-laws, half and step-siblings. Inviting the main ones round together for a summer meal can be a relatively easy way to tick several boxes in one go! Informal alfresco dining is a pleasant way to let guests entertain themselves, chat to whomever they want, eat whenever they’re hungry, come and go as they choose.
Friends may have been somewhat neglected of late as many of us have taken a little time to reconnect and resume normal life. Inviting several friends round for a summer meal can provide a great opportunity to catch-up with quite a few at once and may even turn into a mini-party. It may be that one guest volunteers to organise a game or two, whilst another may choose to DJ and play some music. Impromptu get-togethers are often the very best kind.
We hear how much networking and business can get done over a game of golf or during a visit to the gym and similarly, inviting someone you like, work with and are keen to get to know better round to yours for some summer food can be a good way to boost that relationship. It may not be the most appropriate time to discuss business facts and figures, but spending a few hours together in a relaxed setting can be a positive way to improve the relationship’s level of significance.
Summer and picnics often go well together. A walk in the countryside or along the beach followed by a picnic lunch in a beauty spot can be a lovely, inexpensive way to spend a day. Though often the dream is better than the reality, as eating sandy sandwiches, fending off insects, finding a field free from cows and avoiding the rain often make for fun stories once you’ve arrived home, rather than on the actual day itself!
Children often love the thought of a picnic, so letting them help in the preparation, make the sandwiches and bake a few fairy cakes can all add to the fun of the day for them. And if it’s raining on the actual day why not put a blanket down on your kitchen floor and pretend that you’re somewhere else, in a forest or somewhere magical, as you encourage the children to use their imaginations and share stories about the day’s fantasy adventures.
When we think of summertime food it often includes salads and light dishes. Adding a sociable element can turn your summer mealtimes into a pleasant experience for the whole family. It can be a chance to connect and celebrate your relationships in a relaxed, amiable atmosphere, whilst enjoying the weather and a little fresh air. Share your summer food and make the most of this lovely time of the year.
Susan Leigh, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
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