Dinner Parties: Plain and Simple

shrimp cocktail

Dinner parties can be a lot of fun to attend, but not necessarily a lot of fun to host. From staying up late the night before preparing the meal to racing home after work to finish cooking the meal, it’s almost like a second job. Don’t even get me started on the costs of these extravagant four-course meals. Why make it so difficult? There a few alternatives you can try to the usual dinner party that might have your dinner guests talking about your great party for the next month.

Dinner Made Simple: Don’t get stressed out trying to make a complicated dinner. Most people are just excited about the thought of not having to cook for a night. The point I’m trying to get across is that you could feed your dinner guests table scraps and they’d probably still be happy. Keep it simple. Soup and bread is always a great dinner combination for colder nights. Think chili and cornbread or tomato soup and grilled cheese. Even a simple casserole that you can pop in the oven would be a crowd pleaser. Just make sure it’s hot and there’s enough to go around.

The Non-Dinner: That’s right, have a non-dinner party. Make things easy on yourself and schedule your dinner party for later in the evening. You can serve appetizers and dessert. I went to a dinner party that was scheduled for after dinner and we made cocoa and ate s’mores. Let me tell you, my friends and I are still talking about that amazing evening. The cocoa and s’mores really made the party because it was out of the ordinary and unexpected. My only warning would be to make sure you let your guests know that you’ll only be serving appetizers and dessert. The one thing that will fail a dinner party is leaving your guests hungry.

Dinner is Not the Highlight: Don’t make dinner the highlight of the evening. Yes, usually a dinner party revolves around dinner, but who says it has to? Have a themed dinner party where you plan to go ice skating or watch a weekly TV show that’s on that night. You’ll have your guests thinking more about the activity and less about food. Again, these types of parties are perfect for the appetizers and dessert idea. A few appetizers before ice skating and some warm cider after is a great plan for a fun evening with friends. Other activities could be going to look at holiday lights or even watching a football game, which if I do say so myself, go great with hotdogs and chips.

What to Drink: OK, I’ll admit it. When I attend a dinner party I’m expecting wine. Is that selfish? Maybe, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t trade a glass of wine for some hot cocoa or warm cider if offered. If you’re still planning to take the traditional dinner route, buy some wine but don’t break the bank. Unless you’re having a sommelier over for dinner, you don’t need to spend a lot on wine. Even the cheap stuff can be pretty good. The other option is to let your guests handle the drinks. People always want to bring something with them to dinner and I say let them. This not only helps you out as the host, but then you know people are really drinking what they like.

Dinner parties can be a lot of fun but they are usually a lot of hard work for the host. If you can be creative with your menu and activities, you can save a lot of time and money and have more time with your guests. Try to remember what it’s like when you’re the dinner guest and I’m sure you won’t disappoint your own dinner guests.

Image courtesy of m├ętrogirl

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