How to Plan a Stress-Free Dinner Party
So you desperately want to host a dinner party this spring… but you’re scared.
Fear not. These Easy Dinner Party Ideas will help you feel like the hostess-with-the-mostest and keep you calm and collected before and during your soiree!
I love throwing dinner parties in the spring.
The weather is warm enough to open up the house and have cocktails out on the deck. My favorite flowers are in bloom. I start finding good produce at the farmers market and grocery stores again. And almost anything goes, because spring is a time of transition.
However, my kitchen is currently under construction so there are no parties on my calendar in the near future.
We are in the eye of the kitchen remodel. After weeks of choosing fixtures and tile, and working with the kitchen designer to try to make the most of this rickety old space, we are thrilled to be so close to having a new kitchen. Of course its a little inconvenient not having a kitchen for a few weeks, but we’re making due.
Really, it’s a small price to pay.
Here are a few camera-phone shots to keep you in-the-know….
My entire “kitchen” stacked on top and below my dining table.
Taking down cabinets and trying to salvage the granite.
The designer worked hard to configure a beautiful kitchen, that met all our needs, around the existing countertops. Usually you’d chuck the countertops and start fresh, but it’s granite and I couldn’t swallow the idea of throwing it out.
We’re tearing out a wall to open up the kitchen and dining room. And of course we found pipes. Lots of pipes…
We are eating out of laundry baskets in my once neat, now cluttered office. In all the mess I’ve lost one of my children, can you find him?
So back to dinner party ideas…
Since I won’t be having one soon, I was sort of hoping today I could inspire YOU to throw a spring dinner, and live through it vicariously.
Dinner Parties don’t have to be difficult. Although I have thrown a few fine-dining style dinner parties, I prefer to go casual.
Planning a casual dinner party doesn’t mean paper plates and hotdogs. It can still be nice.
It simply means getting rid of fussy elements that we spend tons of time worrying over, and no one really appreciates. Like floor-length linens, perfect centerpieces, and stuffy place settings with way too many forks.
I find that what people really get excited about, is simply being invited to partake of a great meal with good company.
Everything else is just gravy.
However, if you want your party to look special without being starchy, here are a few dinner party tips.
Dinner Part Ideas
1. Decide on a simple dinner party menu, using fresh seasonal ingredients. Don’t over do it. Simple dishes that are well-prepared have a much greater impact than lavish dishes that don’t turn out.
2. Make as many items ahead as possible. You’ll be able to keep cool right before the dinner party if you don’t have a long list of items to cook. Appetizers and dessert are often good make-aheads.
3. Whether you decide to serve at the table or set up a buffet, pull out your serving pieces ahead of time.
When we’re hosting a large party with lots of dishes, I like to incorporate white serving pieces with metal and glass/crystal. The combination goes well together and provides me with more options.
They don’t all have to match, just go together.
4. Lay out your serving pieces and label them, so you know you’ve got a pretty dish for all your menu items. Put out serving utensils as well, so you won’t have to scramble when the guests arrive.
All these awesome white and glass/crystal pieces are from Villeroy and Boch and the metal pieces are mostly from my mom.
5. Think eclectic, when deciding on table settings. If you’re anything like me, you probably have a few different types of napkins, placemats and dishes, but not one single set large enough for a dinner party.
No worries, mix it up!
Use neutral placemats and napkins mixed with your brighter fabrics. This creates a fun casual feel that relaxes your guests.
Also, play with your napkins. There’s no need to starch and fold them into swans. Try tying loose knots or placing them haphazardly under plates, for a simple carefree look.
Under the plate….
You could also use some common scarf-tying techniques on your napkins, just for kicks.
Or scraps of fabric, instead of cloth napkins.
Then once you’ve:
- Decided on a menu and bought your groceries
- Made some items ahead
- Set out and labeled you serving pieces
- And set the table
Relax. Pour yourself a glass of wine and cook the meal just as if you were cooking it for hubby, sister, or oldest friend. You’ll do a better job if you’re not stressed.
Your dinner party doesn’t have to be perfect to be a fabulous!
PS… I want to hear all about your party!
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