breakfast in bed

Photo: kupicoo

If you're craving comfort...try breakfast in bed—for dinner!
After a long, hectic day, there's something so simple and satisfying about a hearty stack of pancakes or the perfect fried-egg sandwich. Why not enjoy it as you would the ultimate Sunday morning breakfast, relaxing in bed with your favorite newspapers, movies—or partner?

Use a sturdy tray or laptop support to dine while you recline, and a cozy throw to keep out the evening chill.
a special guest

Photo: Ariel Skelley

If you're hungry for conversation...try a special guest.
At some point, everyone grows bored with the vague "How was work?" and the trusty "What was the high point of your day?" Bring some extra flavor to the table by taking turns inviting—and teasing—a weekly mystery guest. It could be a co-worker from the office, the new kid at school or someone interesting you know from your community, like a yoga instructor or local artisan.

Liven up mealtimes in the days preceding by playing 20 questions to guess who the visitor might be. Make the big night special by using fancy-looking plates and wine glasses—or dressing up!
progressive dinner party

Photo: Hero Images

If you're feeling neighborly...try a progressive dinner party.
For a fresh spin on entertaining, consider a dinner party with a revolving number of hosts and locales. Ideal for people who live relatively close together—think the same street or apartment building—the evening could start with drinks at one home, progress to appetizers at the next and so on through dessert. Like a potluck, everyone has a chance to contribute, only this option offers a revitalizing change of scenery as well.

Prepare for your portion by arranging furniture to create dining-friendly areas throughout the home. A lacquered bench in front of a row of chairs is a great makeshift table, as is a footstool with a colorful flat tray on top.

Photo: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury

If you're feeling creative...try a cook-along.
With friends on a Saturday or as a family on a Friday night, a meal tastes even better when it's whisked, tossed and kneaded as a team. Invite everyone to bring their favorite ingredients, kitchen tools and ideas and be ready to experiment with new techniques and tastes.

If you're low on prep space, bring in a budget-friendly kitchen cart that offers storage as well as an extra surface for working and serving. Don't forget to stock up on food containers so everyone can take some leftovers home.
fresh approach

Photo: Tetra Images

If your routine is growing stale...try a fresh (air) approach.
Tired of the 9-to-5 monotony, the relentless pull of technology and the hectic pace of modern life? Go back to basics with an alfresco feast that celebrates the beauty and bounty of nature. Create a menu around the freshest home- or locally-grown ingredients, highlighting what's in season, and decorate the table with rustic accessories that complement the outdoor surroundings.

Artfully stack farm-style wooden crates to create an instant bar or serving area. Use terracotta pots to hold napkins and utensils, and fresh-cut flowers in glass jars as simple centerpieces.