I don’t know if all dinner parties in Italy are more or less spontaneous, but at least the ones that we plan (or in fact not really plan at all) are mostly spur of the moment decisions. That could cause stress. At least it causes me some stress, even though I’m mostly the instigator. I do sense that Italian friends don’t mind at all when you invite them last moment for an impromptu dinner party. And they would gladly ask you to join them for dinner at their place approximately an hour in advance. Just to give an example, my boyfriend is actually quite calm organising impromptu dinners despite me forcing him to do most of the cooking after he’s had a long day of work (he is just a better cook, that is not my fault). It seems he is (like other Italians) used to inviting friends or family over, out of the blue, and cook an amazing dinner from scratch, or he is, by now, used to my silly endeavours.
Having said all that, I honestly believe that Italians are way more relaxed when it comes to abandoning their schedule (if they have one) and take things into an entirely new direction. Sometimes this is perhaps not the most amazing idea in the world, but often it results into nice and unexpected experiences. (I make it sound as if hosting a dinner party is something completely crazy, it’s obviously not).
I think one of the things that help Italians to be more spontaneous, is the fact that they don’t stuff their day with so many things to do that they have to literally schedule in time to go to the bathroom, nor do they need to do everything perfectly. Yes, the food has to be very good, but the apartment or house doesn’t have to be spotless, they don’t have to be wearing an amazing outfit that will blow everybody’s mind, and if they’re still cooking while guests are entering, that’s just fine. It’s ok to start eating an hour (or two) later than planned. It’s ok to have dessert at 23.30 and to go to bed at 01.00 while still digesting most of the food (at least that’s what it feels like).
And… most friends or family members bring something with them to thank you for hosting the dinner. When this is a dessert, you always have a spare one for when your own fails.
From Italy with love,