I completely agree with this article by Marilyn Krause about the shift from a formal dinner party to a more casual affair..STLtoday - Dinner parties: Then and Now
"Among the current trends is a move away from multi-course dinner, to one-dish meals, hosting lunch or brunch instead of dinner and purchasing a portion of the meal instead of making everything from scratch.
Let's face it - the aim really is to catch up with new or old friends and share some quality time together in a setting where you are not rushed..
"Simple, easy, casual. It's not unusual for guests to gather in the kitchen nibbling hors d'oeuvres while the cook finishes the entreé."
The Hostess with the Mostess