Do you like going out to eat with your friends but your wallet resents it? Does the thought of having a couple people over for dinner make you nervous? It doesn’t matter if you don’t cook, don’t have space or are short on cash, this post has you covered. You’ll learn how to host a dinner party without losing your mind.
A dinner party can be an economical substitute for a night out on the town. Throwing a dinner party in your own home is a great way to get a few friends together for a pleasant evening. Consider your dinner party an opportunity to show off your skills to your guests – and you don’t have to prepare an elaborate meal in order to impress them.
Decide when and how many
Once you decide you want to provide a meal for your friends the next step is to figure out how many you can reasonably accommodate. Do you have a table where you and your guests can sit? If not, do you have space to set up a folding table? If you don’t have access to a table or room for one, think about where you usually sit to eat your meals. How many more people can fit in that space? Most important, how many do you want in it at one time? For the sake of an example, let’s assume there will be four people, including yourself. Let’s also say you will seat your guests in your living room because you don’t have a dining room table and don’t know anyone with a folding table.
You should have a plate, a bowl, silverware and a glass for each person. Don’t worry if they don’t match; it doesn’t matter for a casual dinner. If you don’t have enough you can use disposable, purchase some if finances allow, or borrow some if not. You don’t have to have a table cloth, a centerpiece or fancy serving ware.
Pick a date and time within the next two weeks and invite your friends. Don’t wait until the last minute.
Decide on the Menu
Next step, decide on your menu. Consider your preferences as well as those of your guests. It’s not necessary to have three or more courses if you don’t want them. Don’t forget to take your ability in the kitchen into account. KISS (keep it simple, silly) applies in menu planning as in everything else. There’s no point in stressing yourself out unnecessarily so limit yourself to one recipe that will “test” your skills or any limitations of your kitchen. Choose easy to prepare or store bought items to round out your meal.
A couple good choices for a new host would be:
- spaghetti and meatballs with salad and garlic bread (make the meatballs and prep the salad the night before…use store bought sauce and garlic bread)
- roast chicken with mashed potatoes or rice and green beans (buy a rotisserie chicken and steam-in-the-bag green beans)
- a vegetable filled quiche (buy ready made pie crust and cook all the vegetables the night before)
- a pot of chili with fixins (good for a weekend get together)
- a pot luck where everyone brings a dish…the host provides the meat or protein
Don’t forget to plan for drinks (which may include adult beverages) and dessert.
Shop and Prep
With menu in hand, prepare your shopping list. Go through any recipes and make note of the items you’ll need to prepare the meal you’ve chosen. Now, check your pantry for items you may already have on hand and cross them off the list. Don’t forget to add any paper or disposible items you’ll need. Will you be able to purchase everything in your usual market or will you have to make a special trip somewhere?
Do your shopping the day before your guests will arrive if you haven’t already done so. Next, take some time to tidy up your space. You don’t have to go crazy; your friends will only be in your home a couple of hours and odds are they know how your place normally looks anyway. Make sure you have room to sit and eat that’s not cluttered with laundry or magazines. Do the dishes to make sure all the plates, glasses, pots, pans, etc. you need are clean. Clear some counter space to work in. Finally, tidy up your bathroom and make sure there’s toilet paper available. Everyone will appreciate that.
Figure out what can be prepped ahead of time and do it the night before. You’ll be happy you did.
Prepare the Meal
If you took the time to do the bulk of the prep work the night before, you should have very little to do the day of the dinner party except pick up a few things that couldn’t be purchased ahead of time (like a chicken for example, or the bottle of wine you forgot). All you have to do is concentrate on preparing your meal. Cook the veggies, toss the salad, slice the meat and serve.
If your friends arrive before everything is ready it’s not a big deal. Put them to work! Let them pick some music or serve drinks, and definitely take them up on any offers to do the dishes! Relax and have a great time. Hosting a casual dinner party is easy when you take the time to plan.
Lydia blogs at Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen where you’ll find all sorts of recipes dedicated to those looking to eat less meat without compromising on whole ingredients.