I remember hosting my first ever dinner party. I cooked for about 20 people. The food was sufficient for about about five at the most. It was the most embarrassing affair of my life. Back in the days when I was a new bride, every little problem looked amplified manifold. As luck would have it, we also had invited people over who actually had above average appetite. That is, if you count the average as the quantity all four of us eat at dinner as a family.
I am dead serious.
As my husband sprinted out of the backdoor to BUY more rice (which I later pressure cooked, only to serve soggy, mushy rice..talk about cherry on top), I sat in the dining hall, mortified at the way my guests looked hungry, their expressions of not-so-subtle dissatisfaction making me feel the biggest nincompoop in the world.. Ever since, I have been petrified that my guests might go home hungry. So I learned to cook plenty.
Over the years, experience has taught me many things, but the best thing that I learned was that it did well to plan ahead.
I did a Pampered Chef party yesterday, and it almost didn’t happen, but because I do like to plan ahead of time, the situation was rescued. But more on that later. It was then that I decided to write about party planning on my blog first thing today.
If you are considering hosting one for the first time it is essential to focus on the menu well ahead of time. Especially if you are someone fresh out on your own in life, and if you’re not prepared it can turn into a high pressure event.
Fortunately there are things you can do to take the pressure off the occasion. After all, you are supposed to enjoy it. It’s understandable that you’d want to impress your guests but there are ways of doing this that work beautifully without stressing you too much.
First, think of what kind of party do you want, and what kind of age group you are catering to. If it is a family party, think about what kind of engagements would keep everyone busy. What kind of drinks to buy, make a list of things you need ahead of time. (Bottle openers, toothpicks, a clean towel in the bathroom – everything counts. Have you ever been stuck with five bottles of wine and no opener? Trust me, these little things can throw a big spanner in smooth proceedings). You could decorate the place by the chosen theme, do some flower arrangement, keep games….list is endless.
No party is a party without the food part. Let’s face it. When you think of the party, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? In my mind, it’s food. Whether it’s theme based, cuisine based, or simply what you want to offer, food is the life of any party. And even for the most seasoned party hosts, making a menu and more importantly, executing it, can be intimidating.
So here are some ways that might help.
It helps to start by narrowing down your options according to your guest list. Think about which people to invite and ask them for likes, dislikes and anything they cannot eat. The last thing you want is to serve up roast beef only to find you have two vegetarians sitting at the table. This information will help you narrow down your dinner choices and you can then proceed to see which options will work best for all concerned.
It’s good to get inspiration from other people as well. Look online for recipes and suggestions for dinner party menus. Remember people will be seated for the meal so you can plan a proper three course meal to be enjoyed at length.
You don’t always need to opt for complex meals either. Some meals are designed to look amazing and yet take little to no time to put together. You might find something that is quick to prepare before you pop it in the oven to cook for several hours on a low temperature. A little last minute preparation and your whole meal is done.
A similar example would be to prepare a dessert that can be made and chilled in advance. This means all you have to do at the last minute is to take it out of the fridge and serve it. Or some lamb racks that you can marinade and pop in the crock pot to get flavorful, glamorous looking food without sweating over it for hours.
Another great option is Potluck. Everyone gets to bring in something. The host usually co-ordinates the menu by broad categories, like someone gets the appetizers, another gets a dessert and so on. But this is good only for informal dinner parties. For formal affairs, food arrangements is on the host.
Of course if you are really stressed about the idea of cooking you can always opt for dinner party catering. There are several excellent options to choose from and companies that are experienced in providing full dinner party catering menus for your needs. You can even have the meals cooked in your kitchen in some cases and served fresh by the chef.
As you can see it makes sense to ensure you can get the best results at all times. If you are able to do this you can enjoy having a good reaction to your efforts. Many people will appreciate you cooking a meal on your own, but some will appreciate being hosted in the right way – even if someone else is doing the cooking. It is still an experience and a chance to enjoy some great food without having to cook. For many this alone is a real treat.
Whatever you decide to do a regular dinner party could turn out to be the highlight of your calendar. Why not make it a monthly event that everyone can start enjoying and looking forward to? It’s a great way to enjoy good company. Like my set of friends so. You can’t beat that fun.