Dinner Parties Are No Longer About Showing Off

Setting an intention for the meal creates comfort for guests and hosts alike, says Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters. ‘‘Purpose’ is just a different way of saying, ‘What is the need around which I want to bring people together?” she says. Maybe it’s to welcome a new friend to the neighborhood, celebrate an accomplishment, try a new recipe, or mark a community ritual together. (For a few years, I had a huge party every summer, the only goal of which was to eat a giant low country boil, with our hands, in the heat.