The power of a meal, shared with friends

December 2, 2014 | 11 comments

At the beginning of this year, my friend Rachael had the simple but brilliant idea to start having regular dinner parties. She called it the Dinner Club for Underachievers, and she set the rules to be simple enough that even families in crazy seasons of life could participate. The rules are:

  • Couples take turn hosting the dinner club
  • The hosts do not have to provide any food — they just provide drinks and paper plates and utensils
  • Each guest brings a dish (appetizer, main course, or dessert)
  • The guests don’t bring kids (but the host’s kids can stay there)
  • We gather every other month

It has provided the couples we know with an opportunity to get to know one another by sharing good food, good drinks, and some all-too-rare uninterrupted conversation. It has solidified bonds among people who were previously only acquaintances, and brought about new friendships.

Also, the laid-back atmosphere has shown me over and over again that you don’t have to have a perfect house and fancy food and dozens of guests to make a good party: a welcoming host and a couple of good-spirited guests are truly the main ingredients to a wonderful event.


I had Rachael as a guest on my radio show to talk about all of this, and you can listen to the interview here! I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

(If you’re reading this on email you’ll need to click through to see the player.)

A big thanks to Rachael for talking to me about her fantastic idea. I’d love to see more people start their own Dinner Clubs for Underachievers!

. . .

–> See all previous podcast episodes here.
–> Subscribe to the Jennifer Fulwiler Show here in iTunes or through your favorite podcast player.


  1. Elisa | blissfulE

    I loved this interview! And I’m totally inspired and hoping I’ll be brave enough to start one after the holidays.

  2. Veronica

    Wow, I really needed to read this! I’ve listened to the podcast and already set up a sign up genius for our ‘Central Illinois Dinner club for Underacheivers!’ 😀 Thank you Jennifer and Rachel for the motivation and ideas to keep it simple.

  3. Karen Edmisten

    Oh, my gosh, I LOVE that the hosts don’t do the food. An inspired idea.

  4. Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

    I love this! I have been a member of a dinner club for many years. The host has always made the meal and the guests always brought side dishes, desserts, etc. However, I lOVE this idea!

  5. Beth Anne

    My church does Dinners for 8 but I like your club better.

    The problem with Dinners for 8 is every time you go to a different house with different people so 2 hours isn’t enough time to really learn about people. I also felt it became this popularity contest of how awesome everyone and their homes and less about talking about in depth things which is really what I’m looking for.

    It was also mostly retirees or people with adult children so totally different spectrum! But I’d love to do something with paper plates and just bring what you can type thing. It sounds like a lot of fun!

  6. Julina

    Wonderful idea, but… it seems like it is only meant for couples meeting other couples. Would singles be welcome among them? Or single parents?

  7. Paige

    Hey Jen, I’ve just been loving your podcast! I unfortunately haven’t been able to visit the blog regularly ever since beginning grad school, and I lack access to SiriusXM. The podcast is a great (and free!) way for me to get a dose of Catholic discussion, insight, and humor while walking to and from classes!

    Back in the spring, I left a comment here explaining that stumbling upon your blog was what first led me to explore the Catholic faith. I’m excited to report that almost exactly a year later, I’m enrolled in an RCIA class at my local church! With each meeting I feel that I’m getting closer and closer to a faith that can challenge, sustain, and inspire me for the rest of my life. What a blessing that is, and it all started here. So thank you again for all that you do!

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Wow, how amazing! Thank you so much for telling me that. I am so honored!!

  8. Lauren S.

    Hi Jen! This is off topic but I’ve seen a few of my favorite Catholic bloggers generating a Christmas list of some of their favorite items or books. Any chance you can or would do the same type of thing? Thanks!

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      That’s a great idea! Thanks for suggesting!

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