As your Latina Diva on Wheels, I’ve discovered that entertaining friends at my home can be a joyous experience, filled with lasting memories. The best part is that it’s one hundred percent inclusive for me. While I don’t mind going over to other people’s homes, I’m aware that it isn’t always possible. There’s nothing more awkward than arriving at someone’s home to find that I can’t enter it or use their bathroom.
In this article, I asked a couple of entertaining divas who use wheelchairs to give tips on how to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for your friends, regardless of your mobility. I added my own tips too. From semi-homemade food items to simple decor examples and knowing when to ask for help, these ideas will help ensure that everyone has a fantastic time together.
Keep in mind, the goal is to have a fun time. No stress. No anxiety. Only laughter and happiness.
Now let me introduce to you these two sweet audaciously entertaining divas. You might already know our Canadian diva, Natalie Cinman because we featured her in our article on marriage and OI. You can read it here later. She has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, loves entertaining at home, and sharing her favorite kitchen gadgets and more on her site. That’s her in the photo below.
My other favorite gourmet diva is Lisa Ferrerio. She also has OI. While she no longer caters as a business, her family and friends enjoy the tastiest dishes with the best party themes. As her friend on Facebook, I can attest that I’d love to hop on a plane to her home in Colorado. I’m waiting on that invite, Lisa.
I’m not exaggerating. When I see their social media posts, I’m instantly hungry. They have fantastic suggestions and mouth watering dishes. I’m waiting for them to appear on Food Network’s The Kitchen.
But lucky you, they graciously shared some of their best entertaining tips. Read on!
Semi-Homemade Food Items:
Preparing delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated, especially when you embrace the concept of semi-homemade dishes. Here are a few ideas that have been a hit with my guests:
Bagel Charcuterie Board: Simple and fun. I ordered bagels from NewYorkerBagels.com because they Fedex them fresh and delicious! Be sure to order them one to two days in advance, but not more than that. Or you can get your local bakery bagels. The bagels are the star of the show so no need for other breads or crackers. But if you know people who don’t like bagels then get new friends! Just kidding. It’s the New Yorker in me. However, you may find that your local bakery has something your non bagel eating friends will love.
Arranging a beautiful charcuterie board with an assortment of cured meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts, and bagels (or another bread) has been a crowd-pleaser. It requires minimal effort and can be customized based on dietary preferences.
I love the charcuterie board because out of all three of us in this article, I’m probably the most low maintenance one. I’m low key on prepping. So this fits my style of entertaining. You can mix it up to suit your style and needs. Remember, make it fun!
Natalie says, “I think the key to entertaining is making sure that you have everything prepped. This way you can spend more time with your guests as much as possible. Depending on the type of meal that you are making if you can prep it ahead of time, put it in the oven to bake when the company arrives, you’ll have time to socialize while the food bakes.”Natalie’s creation.
Dessert Parfaits: Layering store-bought cake or brownie cubes, whipped cream, and fresh fruits in individual glasses creates delightful dessert parfaits. I love that this option can be assembled in advance and easily tailored to accommodate different dietary needs. I’m also a big fan of different mini baked goods. There’s no shame in buying the dessert, especially if you cooked the main dish. You could do the reversal and buy the main dish and bake cake. Mix it up. Scroll down to see desserts. I can’t put them all right away because you will have a toothache before you finish reading the article.
This might make my fellow entertaining divas cringe, but once I bought a lasagna, fresh bread, and dessert for my friends. I created the salad and focused on the table decor. More on that as you continue to read. Is your mouth already watering?
Lisa says, “My advice isn’t specific to wheelchair users… it’s for everybody that wants to entertain. Make everything beautiful. Your food and drinks should not only be delicious but also be beautiful. Presentation matters. It’s true that people eat with their eyes first.”
Simple Decor Examples:
Creating an inviting atmosphere doesn’t have to be elaborate. Here are some simple decor examples that have worked well for me:
a) Ambient Lighting: I set the mood with soft, warm lighting using string lights, candles, or table lamps. This creates a cozy ambiance that encourages conversation and relaxation.
b) Table Centerpiece: I opt for a low centerpiece for my dining or coffee table that doesn’t obstruct eye contact. A beautiful vase with fresh flowers or a collection of candles adds an elegant touch without interfering with wheelchair accessibility.
c) Decorative Accents: Adding pops of color and personality to my space with decorative cushions, vibrant throws, or artwork has made my home feel more welcoming and inviting.
This is Lisa’s Thanksgiving table setting. Beautiful, right? She loves entertaining.
A theme helps whether it’s Italian, Mexican, Greek, Asian or super specific like a Mahjong party or a spring tea party – a theme provides direction and continuity. Special touches go a long way.
If you know one of your guests has a certain love for something, build that into the dinner in some way. Whether it’s part of the main dish, an appetizer or a finishing touch that you place on the table, it makes your guests feel special.Lisa Ferrerio
Knowing When to Ask for Help:
Recognizing when to seek assistance is crucial to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable gathering. Here’s how I approach asking for help:
a) Accessibility Needs: I prioritize accessibility when planning my event. I inform my friends about my specific needs and ask them to assist with any necessary adjustments, such as moving furniture or ensuring clear pathways. My friends are fantastic about this. We know I don’t do well in Miami humidity, so my house is an excellent option for gathering.
When my friends with physical disabilities are visiting, I ask them what I need to do to make it as awesome as possible. I’ve measured doorways and ramps for them. I don’t assume that because I can, they can. While I’m at it, I inquire about their dietary needs. I’m lactose intolerant but I take lactose pills in case the dairy food is too delicious to turn down like gnocchi from my favorite Italian restaurant in Miami.
Natalie’s beautiful home decor. So doable, right?
b) Assistance with Food Preparation: If certain cooking or serving tasks require extra support, I don’t hesitate to ask a trusted friend to lend a hand. Many guests appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the gathering. Remember that lasagna I mentioned earlier? My friend was kind enough to take it out of the oven. My fabulous friends take the bowls of food and place them on the table.
c) Collaborative Efforts: I encourage guests to bring a dish or help with minor preparations, turning the gathering into a collaborative event. This not only eases the workload but also fosters a sense of togetherness. Remember that bagel gathering I mentioned? My friends contributed one item that they thought we’d all love to taste on that bagel. It was fun. It sparked conversation and we felt as if we were judges on one of those Foodnetwork shows.
That’s Lisa’s creation. Tasty, right?
I didn’t leave that out on purpose. I think that it depends on your company. Sometimes the entire party is non alcoholic. That’s definitely great and doable. I think out of all three of us, I’m the one who can definitely do without the alcohol at a party. Know your company. I think Natalie’s tip is spot on.
Sometimes you want to have a signature cocktail ready and other times you don’t. It depends on the type of people that are gonna be coming to your home. Do they like wine? If so, make sure that you have white and red available. If they’re more into cocktails, you can see what they would like ahead of time. If you know them well enough you can have what they like or just have different types of options available so that you can mix up quickly. After all, you’re having people over for a dinner party. You’re not a bartender. (Insert giggle)Natalie Cinman
Entertaining friends at home as a wheelchair user has been a delightful experience. By embracing semi-homemade food items, incorporating simple decor touches, and knowing when to ask for help, we’ve created a warm and inclusive atmosphere that everyone can appreciate. So, gather your loved ones, and let’s create unforgettable memories together!
One quick side note: You can scrap all of this. Order a pizza. Ask everyone to bring one appetizer and a drink. Turn on some music. Enjoy your company. It’s about the fun and laughter.
What’s your must have tips for entertaining?
Leave us a comment. Lisa, Natalie, and I will be answering questions.
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