Expert Advice: How to Throw a Dinner Party with Minimal Effort, from an SF Creative Director
Information about Expert Advice: How to Throw a Dinner Party with Minimal Effort, from an SF Creative Director
George McCalman is the Lois Weisberg in my life. He has a gift for meeting interesting people, forging an immediate bond, and—here’s where the Lois analogy comes in—instinctually connecting them to other people in his orbit to yield new friendships and creative collaborations.
George wasn’t a born connector, though. When I first met the creative director and artist in the early 2000s, in fact, he wasn’t one to mix his social circles (I was then firmly stuck in his “work friend” group). “When I turned 35, I freaked out because I realized none of my friends knew each other,” he recalls. “So I threw myself a party, and it was as terrible as I expected.” To clarify, it was terrible for him. He may have been an angst-ridden host, but everyone else was having fun—which gave him the motivation to push through his insecurities and keep creating meaningful opportunities for his peers and friends to overlap.
Since then, George has honed his party-hosting talents and is now the organizer of not one, but three regular social gatherings, all thrown in his small apartment in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood: a bimonthly Black Brunch Club (a time for his friends of color to convene, commune, and commiserate); a monthly Dinner Club (for his longtime friends); and a quarterly Queer Happy Hour (or, as he jokes, “a gathering of the gay agenda”). “I’m invested in staying in touch with friends I like, and I get a thrill from introducing people,” he says, by way of explaining his compulsive need to play host.
As the mastermind behind the San Francisco Chronicle’s monthly Observed column, an illustrated roundup of characters he meets at various events, George is now paid to do what he loves: socialize, make connections, and create art. His biggest piece of advice for those who are gun-shy about hosting a party? “Don’t subscribe to the idea that dinner parties have to be perfect. They don’t. They just have to be human.”
Here is his step-by-step, stress-free pre-party to-do list.
Photography by Kelly Marshall.