What We’ve Been Up To: November

A Simpler Approach to Hosting

As a teenager, or even in my early 20s, I always imagined my “adult” life would involve a lot of dinner parties: friends lingering over the picked-apart remains of a carefully curated meal, candles burned to the stubs, red wine rings on the tablecloth. The algorithm also thinks I should be attending these dinner parties and prepping for holiday gatherings, providing me with plenty of videos on “perfect host gifts” ideas. (Hint: our handmade soy candles fit right in.)

Dinner parties came to represent the movie version of my life — why did it always feel just out of reach? Having moved across the country (and LA County) several times, my social network has been a bit scattered. I went into 2022 making building my community a priority. I went out of my comfort zone and made new friends (bonus if our kids get along). My parents also moved across the country and now live a ten minute bike ride away — meaning I see them every Sunday for dinner. My mom cooks a new recipe and my dad makes gin martinis, just like his dad did for my parents when they were my age. We catch up on the week and I get to hear all about their burgeoning social network.

After the isolation of COVID, regularly seeing friends and family feels like an embarrassment of riches. I have spent so much of the past years focused on the business and raising a small human, that I didn’t realize how much these social connections could support me. Wait, you’re saying — isn’t this supposed to be an email about hosting? I’m getting there.
What We’ve Been Up To: November | Common Scents: The P.F. Candle Co. Blog

I’ve been approaching the dinner party — or the symbol of what they mean — all wrong. No one needs place settings or formality — a buffet of take out tacos from Homestate and a backyard hang does the trick. In fact, the more casual, the better. The pressure is low, and the focus can be on being in the moment and taking a break from screens, not whether I burnt the brussel sprouts (I always do, but I tell everyone I like them that way.)

To prep for guests, whether it’s Thanksgiving or just a Monday night pop-in, this is my formula, all of which takes less than 10 minutes, and helps keep stress for me low:
  1. Clean the toilets (I’ve been into these tablets) and take out the trash, if it’s full.
  2. I know it’s cold, so this might be controversial, but if you can open the windows or put on a fan before (or during) your guests’ arrival, it helps clear out stale air.
  3. Light incense — it instantly covers stinky dog or leftover cooking smells, but it also tells your guests “I’ve been thinking about you.”
  4. Light a few candles for mood and ambience.
  5. Put on a playlist. Chill, mellow vibes make people feel at ease.
Remember that done is better than perfect. The dinner party you can host today, whether it’s take out or tiered courses, is the perfect one.

Monthly Recommendations:

Burning: Piñon Incense + Ojai Lavender scented soy candles to break up my seasonal rotation

Reading: “Let My People Go Surfing” by Yvon Chouinard

Listening: This is my go-to chill “having people over” playlist: 

Food + drink: Lately I’ve been putting cinnamon on everything, from overnight oats to roasted sweet potato cubes. Hardly groundbreaking, but certainly seasonal.

Be safe out there and hug your loved ones,

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