1. Look up recipes. Fret over what to make. Realize some people have dietary restrictions. Be relieved to find vegan substitutes.
2. Go to Trader Joe’s or some other such nice grocery store. Buy real meat and real “good” pasta. Get fresh veggies. Feel like a grown up.
3. Get back to your apartment and start cooking. Realize you don’t know anything about cooking. Panic.
4. Consider for a moment maybe you didn’t get enough food for everyone? Oh god, how much do people even eat? What if everyone eats and they’re still hungry and they’re looking at you like, what’s next and there is nothing next?!
5. Take a Xanax. Open the wine meant for dinner.
6. Prep the oven and put on the one apron you own. It’s got some cheeky comment on it like, “Kiss the Chef!” or it’s from a bar mitzvah/chili cook off.
7. Get out the big table. Stretch it across your living room. Be concerned that someone is practically going to be sitting at the door and someone else will be on your bookshelf because you don’t have a lot of space.
8. Realize you don’t have enough chairs and use cushions stacked up. Think maybe you can pass this off as rustic?
9. Set the dishes. Google which side the fork goes on. Put out napkins. Put candles in the middle of table. Stand back and actually think this looks pretty okay.
10. Realize you have way too little time before guests are coming and you need to shower.
11. Cook the veggies and the pasta.
12. Have the smoke alarm go off. Run around your apartment waving a towel at the beeping alarm like a maniac.
13. Pop open the wine meant for dinner and pour yourself a glass.
14. Drain that glass of wine (or two) as you drain the pasta.
15. Do some of the dishes, but basically just pile them all into a big stack for later.
16. Put together a playlist of nice, soothing dinner party music like Billie Holiday or John Coltrane. Jazz! Like adults listen to!
17. Panic about not having enough time.
18. Panic because you can’t find the nice dishes to put the veggies and pasta and meat into.
19. Find them, but they are dusty. Wash them as you drink another glass of wine. Wonder why you offered to do this again. Start pre-worrying about the mess you’ll have to clean up.
20. See yourself in the mirror and realize you look like Julia Child had a baby with Medusa — on speed and crack. Realize you probably don’t have time to shower.
21. Have one guest arrive early like an asshole.
22. Offer them wine. Have them side-eye you for having a three-fourths empty bottle and crazy eyes. Tell them you’re still working on dinner. Send them out of the kitchen to like, look at your books or records or something, you can’t entertain yet!
23. Rush into the bathroom and try to make your hair less frizzy. Don’t bother showering. Put on a nice shirt. Think, “That’ll do, pig. I guess.”
24. Have more guests arrive. Watch them all interact with each other. Consider again that you don’t have enough food. Want to kiss on the mouth your friend who brings tons of desserts. Make a note to thank her later.
25. Take half an hour to finish the cooking, because the meat won’t cook as fast as the recipe said it would. (Rachael Ray is a liar.) But everyone is drinking wine and socializing so it’s okay.
26. Have that one friend who wants to help, but politely decline pretending you’re Martha freaking Stewart and being like, “I’ve got everything under control, thanks!” through your teeth.
27. Burn something. Flip it over so no one notices.
28. Drink more wine.
29. Have everyone sit down. Start serving the courses. Get compliments on the wine, the food, the music, the table. Lie and say, “It was so easy, you guys! Please! Enjoy!” Secretly want to murder anyone on Pinterest who actually believes this.
30. Enjoy the evening. Be slightly too drunk. Thank everyone for coming. Send them home with leftovers. Pass out on the couch with a mountain of dishes to do tomorrow and a glass of wine on the floor.