This is the first in a series of blogs about the fun (and art) of hosting a dinner party. After a TV marathon of the reality series “Come Dine With Me Canada”, my husband and I decided that we could SO do that show! Unfortunately it is not a ‘couple’ thing and I get sweaty just thinking if I had to do it alone!
So my blog will delve into the fine art of throwing a dinner party, whether it is for two guests or ten. I draw the line at ten as that is all my dining room table will handle with ease. For me, it is all about the atmosphere and the simplest of things can create the atmosphere. I will share with my readers the crazy and sometimes rudimentary things I incorporate into my dinner party planning.
Are you ready? Here are some topics I will cover…and why.
- Planning: Pick a day where you can have some ‘alone’ time to set the stage. If you are a working person, a Friday night is probably not the night to throw a dinner party.
- The Guest List: This can be interesting or downright disastrous. Choose people that have something in common (or not), best not to mix it up too much.
- The Music: I know I am lazy sometimes and just select a theme on the satellite dish and let it rip. But if you are having a ‘theme’ evening, why not choose music that will thrill and delight your guests? Do they like country, pop, classical or a particular artist? With an iPod, you can download a few selections and it shows you gave some thought to the playlist!
- The Table Setting: Okay, I know I am anal about this. But really, it does not take a lot to make a creative table setting. Salt, pepper and a butter dish does NOT make a centerpiece! Stretch yourself. Sometimes less is more…or you can go over the top, the choice is yours.
- The Bar: The bars from the 70’s (and yes, we had one) are long gone, but lately the bar has taken on a whole new meaning. Guests arrive and with your ‘accoutrements’ plainly displayed it takes the awkward conversation “what do you like” followed by “what do you have” away. So yes, set up a mini bar somewhere. Cocktails start at five. And it can be fun. I will show you!
- The Wine: Every dinner party needs wine. Whether it be a vintage wine or a nice local wine, whatever your taste is will be just fine. I only draw the line at boxed wine. There are lovely wines at affordable prices that you can plop into an ice bucket (if white) and voila, your look is complete. I will introduce you to some of my all time favorites and it won’t break your bank to serve them!
- The Menu: The piece de resistance! It can be simple. I can be 4 or 5 courses (or less). The choice is yours and the choices are endless! It can include appetizers, starters, main, and delectable desserts followed by specialty coffees or a good old fashioned scotch by the fire. Again, it depends on your guests and what you are comfortable with serving. Do not be afraid. Whatever you serve is delightful for your guests…they did not have to prepare, cook or serve it!
- The Atmosphere: Do you like low lighting; candlelight; or artificial light. Whatever your choice is exactly that; your choice. I like low lighting…women my age just look better in low light. Candles are a must for me…it creates a relaxed atmosphere and attracts all the heavenly spirits to join you at your soiree. But if you are afraid of candlelight, there are quite awesome battery operated candles that will work too! Just please dim the pot lights (or hag lights)…they make everyone look like a hag!
- Cleanup: I never, never, never, expect or invite guests to clean up! This is their night out and for practical reasons it just makes sense that you know your kitchen and dishwasher intimately so there is no need for a ‘this is my kitchen setup 101 course’. Relax, that is what tomorrow is for. Let them finish the evening on the ‘high’ that you will have created.
- Hostess gifts: I do believe it is a nice touch. But please, if you don’t know what your hostess is ‘into’ then bringing a bottle of wine is both courteous and acceptable. I love receiving thoughtful hostess gifts but I also understand not everyone is able to just produce one on a whim. Don’t stress, if you were invited, then your host/hostess is happy to have your presence.
- Above all else, be a responsible server! If your guests have imbibed too much on your refreshments, ensure they have a safe drive home!
Are you ready for this adventure? I am so happy to have the opportunity to share my foodie experiences with you. And most of all, I want those who are totally terrified with holding a dinner party to realize that it is not about the food…it is about the people. So enjoy!