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Headacheless Hosting

Most agree that dinner parties are fun. Friends, wine, food, what’s not to like? Well, for a lot of hosts, dinner parties are met with a good amount of anxiety. Concerns about menu and presentation fill your head for days leading up to the event. Here are my tips to make the whole hosting process easier and therefore more enjoyable!

  • Send a real invitation (okay, e-invitation). A formal invitation is a great way to start the dinner party process, as it clears up any confusion that may ruin the evening. Tell them where to be, when to be there, and what they can bring. Also, ask if they have any dietary restrictions you should be aware of. I whipped mine up with the (free) app Redstamp. Plus, I mean, so cute right?

  • Plan your meal before you start flapping your jack. Settle on an appetizer, main, side, and dessert. Take into consideration how many people you have and how formal you want the dinner to be. If you are having close friends or family over, feel free to make it fun and light. For regular friends keeping it simple might be your best bet. Don’t set yourself up for failure by picking an overly ambitious main dish. It’s best to stick to things you have made before, as to prevent any hiccups.
  • Skip hot appetizers and head straight for their cold brethren. Olives, cheese, grapes, crackers, and nuts are a dinner party lifesaver. They take minutes to prepare, are great conversation starters, and always a crowd pleaser. Plus they won’t take up precious oven space/time.

  • Ask your guests to contribute intelligently. Sure, it’s easy to just ask someone to bring wine or beer, but you can handle that yourself with little to no effort. Why not let them actually HELP you? My suggestion is to ask them to contribute towards dessert. Our friends recently learned to make ice cream, and brought a delicious peanut concoction to pair with our homemade brownies. It lets your guests showcase their skills, and saves you from making an extra dish.
  • Set yourself up well. Do as much as you can the day before. I was making chicken artichoke potpies, so I roasted the chicken the day before, saving me an hour the evening of dinner. Also, try to eliminate trips to the kitchen by setting out a water pitcher, glasses, plates, napkins, and silverware ahead of time. It’s your party, you should enjoy it!
  • Add some small personalizations to give the party a pulled together feel. Set the table beforehand and place namecards at each seat. Making individual dishes instead of serving family style also saves on the serving/cleaning up hassle.

Do you have any tips or tricks for headache-free hosting? We would love to hear ‘em!

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9 responses »

  1. These tips are fantastic! You’re so right about the appetizers. I’m also learning that meals in casserole or baking dishes are so easy for dinner parties… you can construct the dish the night before then bake it right before your guests arrive and it stays hot throughout the whole meal.

    Reply
  2. Oh and that chalk board appetizer platter is amazing! I need that to match my chalk napkin holders!

    Reply
  3. Oh dear…. is it correct to ask dinner “guests” to bring food for the dinner? The cold appetizer suggestion is great.

    Reply
    • Oh, the times they are a changing! I think if someone wants to know how they can help, it is certainly permissible to let them. And I believe good manners dictate never showing up empty handed anyway!

      Maybe this doesn’t follow the old fashioned rules of etiquette, but I am not sure how much those apply anymore.

      Reply
      • Totally! Entertaining now-a-days is way more casual than it used to be… even for formally fancy occasions like holidays or hosting work peeps. I probably wouldn’t ask a stranger or someone that I didn’t know very well to bring a dish but for those “special friends” who Shannon identified above, that’s perfectly appropriate. The key here is communication between guest and host so the outside dish fits in with the rest of the meal. Plus, if the guest doesn’t end up liking anything the host cooks, at least they know they’ll like one thing on the menu :)

    • IKR!! So wish I had an ipad but does anyone know if it works on the ipod touch ??? cuz im giettng one for xmas and if anybody wants to be my friend in webkinz world the my username is the name i used here Thnx !! lilgirl78

      Reply
  4. Why do these happy faces look so creepy, by the way??

    Reply
  5. Hi Amy & Co.! Love the blog & love the suggestions! I’ve done a more interactive dinner party before & it was a blast! I set out a pizza making station with dough pizza crusts for friends to roll out & different pizza sauces (think sauces like BBQ & Alfredo too) and toppings (sausage, pepperoni, chicken, veggies, pineapple,etc.). Each guest built a pizza & we stuck them in the oven two at a time. Sampling each others pizza was fun! Also, I love props for photo ops…think paper chef hats!

    Reply

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