I had a lovely meal with some friends this weekend, and it got me thinking on how effortless they made it all look, even with two kids under 3 years old at home. So it got me thinking, whether you’re hosting 3 or 13, here are some tips to make your dinner party an amazing, and easy, success.
- This is a simple one, but grab a few bottles of nice sparkling and still water, and display them on the table with the wine. It’s very “restaurant meets home” dining, and makes the experience seem a bit fancier even if its not
- Decorate if you want (flowers and centerpieces are great, but can be pricey), otherwise use the table to feature your food, and nothing else.
- Pour some wine or pre-dinner cocktails and set out an easy snack like gourmet bread (sliced) with good olive oil or cheese and crackers
- Don’t overdue your pre-dinner bites, and focus on conversation and greeting your guests
- Spice up the regular salad, by exploring different greens and simple dressing options
- Try flavored olive oil and/or specialty herbs (like fennel pollen) to give your simple greens a lot of kick
- Opt for a one pot dish, like a stew or hearty dish, with vegetables and protein all in one (and good sauce to soak up with bread, like Coq Au Vin). I did a curry for 10 for my 30th bday, and it was a huge success, served with rice on the side. Easy peasy.
- Consider prepping what you can the night before, like your veggies, so you can toss in what you need when you are ready to cook.
- If you are grilling, marinade your protein the night before, to infuse it with lots of flavor.
- Don’t shy away from simple meals with lots of herbs and spices. Flavor is what counts, not how creative your base it.
- Go with seafood only if you have time to watch it and if you have a smaller party, to ensure you can perfectly cook it.
- Keep it simple with a pre-assembled cheese board with dessert wine (if you don’t serve cheese early in the meal, and if you eat dairy of course). Or just the dessert wine, if your meal is hearty enough.
- If you are making dessert, try a cobbler or crumble which is pre-portioned, so you can serve it easy with a dollop of ice cream (or sorbet)
- Even brownies make a great dinner party dessert, so don’t shy away from easier favorites (saw Nigella serve brownies to her guests once)
- Serve some port-soaked berries on ice cream (Recipe here – this is one of my favorite and easiest desserts ever). It requires soaking the berries the night before or cooking the berries lightly on the stove.
Seems so simple, and yes it can be, with a little prep, these easy tips are great for keeping you engaged with your guests and your guests happy.