How to Host a Poverty Pasta, Vol. 17, Issue 5

After Sunday's review of Brunch Is Hell, which advocates a dinner party renaissance but with a more relaxed vibe, Etiquetteer got to thinking about how That Mr. Dimmick Who Thinks He Knows So Much puts together a Poverty Pasta Dinner. Etiquetteer first suggested this type of dinner party many years ago, but it's worth detailing the specifics now:

  1. Pick an evening (weeknight or weekend) that works on your calendar.
  2. Send an email invitation (bcc: everyone to prevent an email spiral needlessly involving those who decline) to an appropriate list that should generate at least two dinner guests but no more than seven - about 14 people. Include an R.s.v.p. date five days before the dinner date, and remind everyone that you'll assign ingredients to the final list of attendees.
  3. Remind non-respondents the day before the deadline that they need to respond.
  4. Three days before the dinner, assign ingredients to attendees: pasta, sauce, garlic bread, cheese, red wine. If there are enough people, add salad*, dessert*, and more red wine. (There can always be more red wine, no matter how many are coming.)
  5. Be sure to have backup ingredients in case someone forgets. You can't have a Poverty Pasta without any pasta!
  6. People will R.s.v.p. right up to the dinner hour. Assign them red wine.
  7. The night before, put a fresh tablecloth on the table, set out silverware, tumblers, and napkins. Set out necessary equipment in the kitchen: pasta pot, bread baskets (line with paper towels), cookie sheet for garlic bread, corkscrew, small bowls for cheese, water pitcher, and dinner plates.
  8. On the night of the dinner, fill the pasta pot with water and start it boiling as soon as you get home. Tidy public rooms.
  9. Remain calm while simultaneously answering the doorbell, texting directions to a lost guest, and opening the first bottle of red wine.
  10. As guests assemble, make sure everyone knows where the wineglasses are to fill their own, and draft a guest to fill the tumblers with water.
  11. Remind guests reluctant to drink red wine out of champagne flutes when your birthday is.**
  12. Receive ingredients and prepare dinner. Wait to put the pasta in the water until all guests have arrived.
  13. Guests serve themselves when dinner is ready. Open seating (placecards at such a casual event would not be Perfectly Proper), but couples should avoid sitting together.
  14. When all are seated, make the traditional Poverty Pasta toast: "To Camaraderie and Thrift!"
  15. Keep an eye on who might need more ice water or wine and pass appropriate vessels as necessary.
  16. Encourage seconds if there's pasta left in the pot; you don't want all those leftovers.
  17. When it looks like all eating has ceased, begin clearing plates. This will prompt others to assist; don't discourage them.
  18. As conversation winds down, bid guests farewell.
  19. Roll up sleeves and begin washing dishes. (This step may precede #16 if guests linger too long.)

And that's it! Give it a shot if you need to inject some novelty (or economy) into your social life.

*The addition of salad or dessert automatically upgrades Poverty Pasta to Gentility Pasta.

**Not really. That is NOT Perfectly Proper.