Goldie Hawn

In the past, we’ve featured brilliant reader comments on parenting, friendship and career. Today, we’re talking about food. Here are 11 insights on everything from party ice breakers to dining solo…

On conversation starters:

“My husband and I recently had a night to ourselves, and he came up with a game where we’d blurt out a number, say 12, and the other person had to tell a story about something that happened to them at that age. It was great digging into the nooks and crannies of our brains for stories we still hadn’t told each other!” — Candice

“At a recent work event, we all shared something about our names. It was incredible hearing stories of names passed down from past generations, or how someone’s mom read the name in a trashy book but loved it anyway. Everyone seemed comfortable talking about that topic, but the stories got really personal and I loved it!” — Caley

On dining solo:

“Dining alone is one of my most indulgent practices. When I met my fiancé, I had to lightly explain that I wanted to enjoy my favorite meal, alone. He’s come to appreciate it. I still go about once a week.” — Antoinette

“I dined out alone while traveling solo and it felt thrilling to let myself linger over my meal. Back in the U.S., I’ve recently found a middle ground by arriving an hour early for weeknight group dates. I bring a book and tell the host it’s just me for now, but will eventually be more, and if there’s room, they’ll give me the big table, or I’ll sit at the bar and wait. I read a book, slowly sip a glass of wine, and get some introvert time between work and friends.” — Katie

On being a restaurant regular:

“When I married my husband, I was indoctrinated into his family’s Thursday night ritual of wings and beer at a local dive bar. Every single Thursday, we would meet his parents, brother, sister-in-law, baby niece and even sometimes grandmother for greasy fries and messy wings, always delivered by our beloved waitress Natasha. When we received the horrifying news that our sweet one-year-old niece had brain cancer, all the servers chipped in and gave us a beautiful care package filled with baby slippers, toys and books to make her hospital stay more bearable. Every week after, they huddled around our table, asking for the latest news. When she was finally well enough after surgery to join us once again on Thursday night, you would have thought the queen herself was eating at Clay’s Sports Bar.” — Sarah

“For the last year, our family has had breakfast at a neighborhood spot every Saturday morning. It’s three blocks from our house, and we walk or ride our bikes. We’ve developed friendships with the small staff, and we’re always bumping in to neighbors there. It has become our ‘third place,’ so to speak, and we look forward to it all week.” — Sophie

On low-key entertaining:

“In a pinch, the Ghiradelli boxed brownie mix is a dessert lifesaver. Everyone always thinks it’s homemade. Serve with the best vanilla ice cream you can find.” — Joy

“My first dinner party decades ago was Hamburger Helper lasagna. I’ve been through the whole Martha perfection stage and am now in my Ina just-roll-with-it stage.” — Cynthia

“Always think about ‘abundance’ when plating appetizers. For example, take all the things that you have and stack them and mound them up all on one larger tray, creating height and texture. It automatically feels fancy, and people will complement your appetizer skills, even if you didn’t cook or bake anything on the tray.” — Allison

On childhood memories:

“My parents both worked in special education, and looking back, I think they felt inclined to celebrate the small things. They made a big deal out of breakfasts for each holiday. We always had green eggs and corned beef scramble on St. Patrick’s Day, and heart-shaped pancakes on Valentine’s Day, along with little cards for each of us on the counter where we ate most days. It made us feel so special.” — Katie

“My mom would sometimes let us have ‘upside down dinners.’ We would have dessert before the main course and salad, and — the real thrill — we ate under the table! Even if the meal itself was just meatloaf, my sister and I would get so excited. My eyes get teary thinking about my lovely mom trying hard to make everyday things special for us.” — Katherine

What tips and rituals do you swear by? I’d love to hear…

P.S. The best reader comments of all time, and a very easy dinner party.

(Photo of Goldie Hawn.)