Food for Thought - The Gift of a Gathering


The F2P clan hasn't exchanged Christmas gifts with each other and with others for many years now. If we’re invited somewhere—which we feel privileged to say is common place for us during the Holidays—we bring something the hosting party needs for the evening, and we ask what that might be ahead of time. It never fails because there’s always something.

And it’s no different when we play host. We prefer not to receive gifts and, when we do, we’re delighted that people bring food stuffs and not consumer goods that adds to the clutter we would prefer not to have in the first place.

How, then, do we celebrate during the Holidays?

We share special moments with special people. We attend many gatherings, from work parties to dinners with friends to family dinners of various types. 

And we host too!


This year, our Holiday dinner was on Friday, December 30th. We had invited 25 people to share some good times and good food and almost everyone made it, despite a few major snow falls. Most of those in attendance were immediate and extended family, but 20% of our table was reserved for friends who we thought would enjoy a large gathering.

Hosting an event like this is a good fit for us. We enjoy the company and we enjoy making and serving homemade favourites.

On the menu:

  • Ceasar and Greek salads
  • Roasted potatos and carrots (from my mom & stepdad’s garden)
  • Prime rib & gravy
  • Tourtière (a traditional French Canadian meat pie & my great-great-grandmother’s recipe)
  • Nuts (in shell…what says Holidays more than that? Roasted chestnuts maybe?)
  • Homemade bread and cheeses & pâtés
  • Homemade pies (thanks to my mom and stepdad), cake (thanks to our niece, see bottom right) and pots de crème
  • Ice cream & chocolates
  • Egg nog (& rum), red and white wine, orange juice, water, tea and coffee

As you can tell, the meal is not a cost-saving measure—as I was preparing this post, Mr. F2P and I estimated we'd spent about $400 this year. What it is is a way to show our appreciation for everything our family and friends represent for us throughout the year and as a way to pay forward our good fortunes.

We can’t think of a better way to spend our time, money and energy. And energy it does take. We work two days ahead of time and one day afterwards, for a total of 4 days for at least one person—some full, some part-time—committed to the event. It’s definitely a labour of love.

We never regret the effort the evening requires. It just feels like the best use of our time and resources during the Holidays. It feels like the most Christmas-timey thing we could do and we often feel that, as hosts, we’re the major benefactors.

Unfortunately, such gatherings are going the way of the dodo bird, and that’s a shame. If you haven’t tried to host a dinner like this (no matter the occasion or the invite list), we highly recommend it. We have yet to host one that isn’t memorable.

If you want to give it a try and haven't hosted one of this size yet, we recommend you:

  • Go buffet style or potluck so that you can focus on the conversation and not on playing host and server.
  • Prepare everything possible in advance so that the day of is mainly focused on preparing and cooking what must be made fresh that day (salads, veggie and oven-bound fare).
  • Ask around for anything you need: tables, chairs, plates, cutlery…most people are happy to pitch in.
  • Keep the clean up and dishes for the next day, if possible.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

When’s our next gathering? Just over two weeks from now! We expect around a dozen people and we can’t wait to do it all over again…albeit on a smaller scale.

Do you host large gathering or have been thinking of trying it out? Please share your thoughts below.