Curry club

Via Harvard Business Review

We are part of something called Curry Club. It all started when a few friends (2 “mummies”, their partners and their 2 toddlers, to be precise) came round to ours for lunch. We extended the kitchen table to accommodate everyone and it pretty much filled the whole room. As guests were so wedged in, they could barely move. So they politely handed each other whatever they could reach from whichever part of the kitchen they were sat in (the person sitting inside the fridge squished between the wine and beer was particularly popular). We tried our best not to cause any injuries in the process, but some mild pins and needles and the occasional elbow in the ribs/face was almost inevitable. It was “intimate” but for the most part we managed to avoid any serious incidents of inappropriate touching. I felt hot and flustered and apologised many times and thanked people for being so tolerant of the cramped conditions. Most importantly, we ate curry. It was clearly a roaring success, as one of the mummies suggested we make it a regular event and take it in turns to host. And so curry club was born.

Next time we had curry club at my friend’s house and another mummy (plus partner and sprog) came along too.  The time after that, she hosted and yet another family joined us, and so it continued. Eventually there were 14 adults, 7 toddlers and 1 baby in our “club”. It reminded me a bit of one of those kids’ counting songs, but in reverse, (they usually count down as a tragedy occurs, such as a careless mother duck losing her ducklings one by one, or a family of young monkeys repeatedly ignoring medical advice and subsequently all acquiring head injuries.)

Becoming more and more acutely aware that it would be our turn to host again soon, I started to have a feeling of panic in my belly (it was either that or too many curries over the preceding months). “Fuck”,  I thought. I mean obviously I was grateful to have so many lovely friends, but still, “fuck”. I realised I had a few options. I could borrow my friend’s enormous house to host curry club (tempting), I could sack the whole thing off (very tempting), or I could feel the fear and do it anyway (not tempting at all). Spurred on by my resolve to prove that it is possible to overcome any obstacle small space living may present, it turned out I actually had no choice but to invite everyone over. As I said before, “fuck”.

So we did it. We planned everything with military precision.  We tidied and cleaned. We gathered together all the stuff that was likely to get in the way and dumped it upstairs temporarily. In advance we cooked big vats of curry and reheated it on the day. We served up the food in the kitchen and ate it in the lounge. We decided not to squeeze the adults around a table this time and instead served food in bowls, and gave people placemats to put on their laps while seated on the sofa/folding chairs/bean bag/pile of toys. We set out a buffet for the toddlers on our son’s little table in the hallway. We arranged that we would go to a fayre in a nearby park after lunch, in case people were starting to develop claustrophobia. Oh and as we only gave people a week’s notice, “unfortunately” only 6 adults, 3 toddlers and 1 baby could make it. Oh yeah, and despite all our planning and preparation, and the relatively low number of guests, it was chaos as usual. But fun (I think) and only moderately stressful.

Top tips for surviving a lot of people coming over for lunch:

  • Firstly, invite people at the last minute, if you’re lucky they won’t make it.
  • If possible (just in case people do turn up), only invite nice helpful friends that won’t judge you, don’t mind a bit of chaos and may even clear up after themselves.
  • Move stuff out of the areas you will be entertaining in (highchairs, shoes, buggies, jackets that sort of thing. We just piled stuff in our bedroom for the afternoon).
  • Don’t be proud. It’s ok to have mismatched crockery, ask people to bring their own plates/chairs/food or eat food off a Frisbee. If your guests aren’t complete snobs, they won’t care as long as the company is good (obviously it will be- they get to hang out with you!)
  • Ply guests with enough booze that they lose all sense of decorum.
  • Don’t feel under pressure to seat everyone around a table. The people from the big house might even think it’s fun to slum it on the floor for a change, it’s like a picnic (without the rain or the bugs). You don’t even need to all sit in the same room as each other (put people you don’t like in a different room to where you are going to be sitting.)
  • Don’t even bother trying to seat the kids with the adults, they might be small, but somehow they still take up the same amount of space as a real grown up person. Put some finger food out for the kids and let them run around with food in their food in their mouths like little feral squirrels.

If you are not sat around a table:

  • Make food that can be eaten without cutlery or with just a fork. Sandwiches are good. Curry is good. Steak or a roast dinner, not so good.
  • If you are serving something like curry, it’s easier to eat it from a bowl.
  • Supply napkins and things to put on their laps (trays, placements etc.)
  • Tell people it’s bohemian. Tables are just so conventional. Tell the person you have made to sit in the kitchen on their own that they are special and the only one that deserves to sit at a table- like the queen.

Got any top tips for entertaining in a small space? Share any thoughts below or take part in our Facebook group forum here.

Related post:
What a mess Auntie Phyllis

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