When you say you are “having a dinner party” or “entertaining,” does it conjure up images of tablecloths and cheese boards and maybe flowers and trips to the wine store where you have to think about things like “Does this Syrah go well with salmon?” I’m not saying I mind all this — in fact, I can get into it — but a strange thing happened a few years ago. An old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while texted me he was going to be in town and I just dashed off a text back to him saying, “Come over for some meatballs!” And for whatever reason, the way it was phrased set up the night to be so much more about cooking for a friend as opposed to entertaining them, if you know what I’m saying. I’ve since tricked myself into entertaining with ease countless times. In that spirit, a few options for ways to complete the phase “Come over for…”

Come Over for…Good Humor Night One of my core childhood memories is playing boxball (aka Foursquare) after dinner with half the neighborhood, hearing the ding-a-ling of the ice cream truck approaching a few blocks away, then all of us dropping everything to beg our parents for money. Since this was the ’70s, it was known as the Good Humor Truck, and we obsessed over the Chocolate Eclairs, Strawberry Shortcakes, Toasted Almond Bars, ice cream sandwiches, and rocket pops. I am still waiting for someone to replicate this experience in 2023, including the boxball, and it might have to be me.

Come Over for…Lasagna Always a crowd-pleaser, lasagna is easy to make vegetarian, and a full satisfying dinner when simply accompanied by a green salad. You can even make it together (or with a bunch of kids) if that’s something your friends would be into.

Come Over for…Soup When the mercury climbs, no one wants to cook, which is where gazpacho comes in. That soup — as easy to make as a smoothie — with a hunk of good bread and a green salad is A-plus perfect and all I would ever need or expect from a weeknight dinner invitation. On other nights, there’s zucchini soup or baked beans or, the best, when the weather gets cooler: chicken soup with or without matzo balls.

Come Over for…Burgers and Dogs What, pray tell, is easier (or tbh, better) than an old-fashioned cookout with burgers and hot dogs, plus maybe a potato salad thrown in for good measure? Add plant-based burgers to the line-up (or make it exclusively vegetarian) for the veg-forward squad.

Come Over for…Brownie Sundaes Make a batch of boxed brownies; pick up a few pints of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, plus some fixings (say, crushed peanuts, maraschino cherries, strawberries, pineapple chunks, hot fudge, whipped cream); stack up a pile of dessert bowls, and let ’em at it.

How would you complete the invitation “Come Over For…”? I’d love to know.

P.S. How to host a chaotic brunch, and come over for a drinks party!