The Dinner Party Project
It’s that time of year again, the weather is cooler and the days are shorter. Whether we like it or not, Winter is in full swing. Why don’t you beat those winter blues and create an evening of food and laughter with a mid-winter dinner party?
The thought may be daunting, food, drinks, and decorations all need to be carefully planned. Who will you invite? Will it be just adults; do they have dietary requirements. All this information adds to the pressure of being a good host. But good news is, dinner parties don’t have to be stressful, simply because anyone can throw a killer get-together. With a little planning, a few tips and a planned-out timeline, you can create one memorable party.
3-4 WEEKS OUT – PLAN FOR SUCCESS
Well a dinner party isn’t a dinner party without your guests. Pick a good group of people, whether it’s close friends, team mates or family. Stick to one key group, who share similar interests. Too many groups create too many circles at the dinner table, removing close interaction and company of each other. Next, they will need to know when and where? Schedule a suitable date and time, you can’t go wrong throwing it over the weekend, allowing enough notice to plan ahead and giving you enough time to get organised. Depending on your invitees (and their tech capabilities), using social media to create a group and send the invitation with all the details should suffice or alternatively reach out individually for a more personal touch.
2-3 WEEKS OUT – COOK SMART
In other words, “don’t drive yourself crazy” – avoid a menu, that’s too much involved, constantly stirring, flipping or checking, you want your evening to be stress free. Stick to what you know. Keep it simple and whip up something you’ve done in the past; your guests will enjoy whatever you will present.
Take into consideration other dishes to go with the main meal, appetisers, entrees and side dishes. We place so much energy into our main meal, other dishes become pretty much the afterthought. They don’t need to impress your guests, a simple salad, roast veggies or even french fries are options to help compliment your meal.
Finally dessert, a dinner party is never complete without a sweet treat. You’ve slaved away all day, if that means a trip to the supermarket or the local bakery to buy cakes, tarts or ice cream, so be it, you need time to enjoy yourself and the night.
BONUS TIP FROM THE HOME SHOW TEAM:
Grazing platters are crowd pleasers! Opt to begin with welcome platter of dips, breads, cheeses, vegetables, crackers, and other small items. End the evening with a decadent sweet platter with a selection of small treats. Both can be prepared prior to the beginning of the dinner party and having a selection of options is the easiest way to keep most guests happy.
1 WEEK OUT – IT’s GETTING CLOSE
Clean the house, and set the stage for your function. Arrange the furniture, declutter and create a good flow of movement in the area you wish to entertain. By now you should have a pretty accurate idea of who is attending, ensure you have enough tableware and cookware to cover what you need for the night. But before you race out to grab those last bits and pieces, check what ingredients you need.
Write a food list of everything you require, if you want your food to be fresh, place an order with the local butcher or baker so it is there ready for you to pick up when you need to. Think about drinks, if people wish to bring their own let them, just make sure you have the basics covered.
Lastly check the lighting, you don’t want the lights to be too bright and harsh on the eyes, aim for softer yellow bulbs or even better use a few candles to create the right mood.
THE NIGHT BEFORE – PREP TIME
Like most dinner parties, the first guest will arrive early, while you’re still fussing about, leading to a congregation of guests in the kitchen. Let it happen, have your prepared platters on the kitchen bench for them to help themselves to. And set up a drinks station upon arrival or by the dinner table. Prep this now to save time tomorrow.
Start setting up your dinner table, adding decorations if you wish to spruce up. Do a final sweep through of the house and remove any of your personal items you wish your guests not to see. If you have a nice coffee table or side table consider using this for your dessert area. Separate it from the mess that’s been left behind from dinner, a simple change of scenery can help highlight the progression of the night. Most importantly get a good night’s rest, you’re going to be busy tomorrow.
TODAY’s THE DAY – DINNER PARTY TIME
Let’s face it, not everything will be smooth sailing, you may have to tweak a few things but that’s just all part of the fun. Start cooking earlier than you normally would to avoid rushing at the last minute! Get all your food prepped first thing in the morning so you are ready to go when you need to.
Last but not least, enjoy yourself, dinner parties are about gatherings and being surrounded by family and friends more than the food itself. Relax, eat up and have a good time.