There’s nothing I love more than wining and dining. Oh wait, I love documenting things in obsessive detail!
As a teen, I wrote pages and pages about boys and best friends. In my twenties, I filled travel journals with adventures in far off places. There was a brief phase where I weirdly kept inventory of my closet in Excel. And now, as a woman in her thirties, I present you with the dinner diary.
A dinner diary is not an entirely new concept.
For many years, hostess books were all the rage. High-society women used them to plan dinner parties keeping details on seating arrangements, shopping lists, decorating notes, and guest preferences. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who keep it simple like Jenny from Dinner: A Love Story who finishes every evening by writing a line about what she just ate.
My dinner diary lies somewhere in the middle serving as part documentation and part soul.
How to Keep a Dinner Diary
First, you’ll need a blank book. I prefer a classic Moleskine journal because I’m an aesthetic snob and a hipster. But seriously, the small version fits perfectly in my purse and the hard-cover keeps it from getting beat up. Ultra minimalists may opt for a digital space to document like the DayOne app, Evernote, or Google Keep.
Each page will detail the who, what, where, and when, plus a few notes about your dining experience. Start with the date at top (aka the when) and a list of who was there. Then, write down where you were dining and what you ate. Finally, finish the page with a few notes about the evening.
Your notes can be functional. For instance, noting dishes that went over well, a cooking tip picked up from a friend, or inspiration from a restaurant menu. You may also choose to write details about the dinner party like funny stories, heated conversations, or tender moments.
It’s best to document everything while it’s still fresh. This usually means the evening of or the day after. Although, sometimes life gets in they way and I don’t update my dinner diary until a week or so later.
Why You Should Keep a Dinner Diary
If you are like me (aka an uber planner and constant chronicler), then keeping a dinner diary will satisfy the deepest part of your OCD soul. For all the normal people out there, keeping track of these details will help you take the guesswork out of entertaining.
You’ll quickly realize which dishes are crowd pleasers and who brings the best bottles of wine. Invite someone over regularly? Now you can remember what you served them last time and a) make it again if they loved it or b) cook something new to switch it up.
If you keep track of when you eat out, the dinner diary is like your very own Yelp. You’ll easily remember your favorite places and the dishes that a restaurant does best.
Hands down, the very best part about a dinner diary is that it’s a reminder of the deliciousness of life.
Things happens at the dinner table, people! There are big moments, small moments, funny moments, and all those in-between. In the last month alone we celebrated my parent’s anniversary, discussed a friend’s potential move across country, watched in awe as my tiny niece spoke full sentences for the first time, and toasted the announcement of a friend’s pregnancy. Not to mention lots of jokes, laughs, and tasty meals, of course.
La vie est belle, non? And flipping through a dinner diary is like taking a trip down memory lane and getting a chance to relive it all.