There’s no better way to enjoy quality time with family and friends, than over the dinner table, especially when it’s full of delicious food, and everybody’s getting stuck in! It’s always worth going to a little effort when it comes to a dinner party to ensure everyone leaves full of food and happy memories. However, after the invites have been sent out, you’re left with the dilemma of what to cook! Creating a table’s worth of tasty meals can feel overwhelming, so it’s always a good idea to stick to a theme; the following are some different options you might like to consider.
Classic, Elegant Fine-Dining
If you’ve chosen to give your lucky guests the star treatment with a fine-dining experience, remember that preparation and timing are critical when it comes to the evening running smoothly. Firstly, whether you’re hosting alone, hosting a couple, or even if you’ve hired some help to serve (how fancy); each person should know where they should be, what they should be doing and what time they should be doing it. There’s no use two of you rushing to get the dauphinoise potatoes out of the oven while some of your guests need their Merlot topping up. If you have a plan in place, it will take a lot of the stress out of the evening, and your dinner should go swimmingly.
Your guests will most likely be expecting a minimum of 3 courses, with appropriate wine pairings, so it’s smart to think how each course will link together and flow. People are unlikely to want a risotto as a starter, followed by something just as carb-heavy, like pasta; try to think about the order the food is arriving in and how the different flavors complement each other. If you’re feeling swish, then you could incorporate palette cleansers between meals, ensuring every course is a taste sensation.
When it comes to a theme, keep it classic to you and your family; after all the guests are there to enjoy what you, specifically, have to offer. If you have a particular heritage, for example, if your French, Indian, or Italian, why not serve up food that’s culturally relevant to you and any particular region you’re an expert in. Your guests will appreciate potentially trying something new and learn more about their host in the meantime. Whether you choose to go for a contemporary or traditional menu, try to involve your personality; then your home setting will complement the food. Personal touches, like name cards and decorative napkin rings, can also add to the ambiance of the evening and give you the chance to get even more creative. For some inspirational ideas on elegant dinner party menus, take a look here.
A barbecue is a complete contrast to the classic dinner party discussed before, it’s a chance for family and friends to get-together outside in a casual setting, and there are fewer rules when it comes to courses and etiquette (there won’t be a palette cleanser in sight).
Even though the setting is casual and the atmosphere is relaxed, there’s no need to scrimp on effort, or the quality of the food you’re serving. There are an ever-increasing amount of gourmet rubs, sauce and marinade recipes, that allow you to prepare the food in the days beforehand. In fact, marinating your fish, meat or vegetable-skewers in advance is positively encouraged, so there’s plenty of flavors to savor on the day.
Sourcing good quality produce is often recommended, and there are some avenues you can take to ensure you get exactly what you need. Local markets are an excellent way to get the freshest fruit and vegetables, and if your town is known for its wine of a craft beer, then grab some and incorporate it into the meal. There’s also the option to order your food online, eliminating the stress of keeping the seafood fresh as you travel home from the store, find out here how fish can be delivered fresh to your door, and get some salmon steaks marinating to throw on the grill! Whether you’re serving up fish, meat or a combination, the quality of the product will leave a lasting impression on your guests, so try and make it a tasty one.
Salads shouldn’t be forgotten either, as they are a crisp and crunchy contrast to all the griddled food you’ll be serving up. If your sauces and marinades are quite spicy, then it’s a winning idea to a selection of slaws and salads that will cool and refresh the palette; and they don’t have to boring, there loads of inventive ways to spruce up your salad table, check some out here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/18/barbecue-side-dishes_n_5502949.html. As the night gets darker, it’s your chance to light some candles and make your outdoor space as pretty as possible.
A leftovers party is the ideal way to bring together classic, traditional food, with a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere. It might seem a little strange to be combining the two styles of dining, that was talked about previously, but it’s the simplest dinner party you’ll ever host (apart from a pizza takeout night, but that doesn’t count) because you don’t even have to cook!
There is usually an abundance of food left over from big celebrations like Christmas, Thanksgiving and July 4th, and because friends and family are often back in town around these times, it is a perfect excuse to bring them all together and host a gathering. Get everyone to bring their leftovers of mains, sides, drinks, snacks, and desserts, and you’re all set. That’s all there is to it, you might need to heat a few things up, but essentially, you’ll just be filling a table full of everyone’s favorite holiday food and encouraging them to get stuck in. It will be a calmer and less formal celebration than everybody just had yesterday, and it will be a chance to catch up with those you’ve missed.
However you decide to host your dinner party, you’ll have the chance to laugh, eat and be merry with some of your favorite people. Even if you completely burn the main course, you’ll have the funny memories to talk about at the next one (although, somebody else might offer to host it instead).