Sunday, November 20, 2011

Guest Post: How to Throw a Dinner Party Part I

Today's guest post comes from one of my dear friends Blythe. Not only is she an amazing cook, this woman really knows how to throw a dinner party, and she does it often. Listen, dinner parties don't happen over night. It takes quite a bit of organization to pull one off successfully. Thankfully, Blythe is here to share her tips and to-do lists so we can all aspire to be confident hostesses.

How to plan a dinner party Part 1: What the Cookbooks Don’t Tell You

I’m not a writer, I’m a list maker. So when I try to explain how to plan an amazing dinner party, here is my top-secret list:

1. Start with your menu. Do this 4-5 days in advance, inspired by food that is in season, and using recipes that can be made ahead of time (so you can enjoy the party too).

This is the menu from a dinner party I threw at our house last spring. We hosted for no other reason than to enjoy old friends and get to know new ones better. My inspiration was springtime in Provence, France.

veuve clicquot champagne
smoked salmon crostinis
salumi salami, olives, bread
oysters on the half shell with spicy vinegar
fresh pea soup with mint
ratatouille with balsamic reduction
provencal french beans with lemon and sage
roasted leg of lamb
bib lettuce salad with dijon vinaigrette
cheese selection
bakery nouveau desserts
irish coffee

2. Create a menu/recipe packet then grocery list.
  • Page 1: Have a copy of your menu.

  • Each following page: Recipes for a dish, in the order that you plan to serve.
Once you've created your packet, go through it page by page and write down all the ingredients you don’t already have to make a grocery list. (If you’re OCD like me, you’ll then re-write this list organized by store and then sub-organized by the section of the market). This go-to packet eliminates the cookbook/laptop counter clutter so you can have more space for prepping and cooking.

3. Make an itinerary with a to-do list. Read through your recipe pack and brainstorm every possible thing you could do in advance. Anything you can do the day before, do it! This allows you to relax, making sure that cooking for the party will be leisurely and fun.

Can anyone guess how much I spent on this dinner party for 8?

My husband gives me a budget to restrain me from going overboard. The champagne was a gift, and the guests brought the wine, cheese, and dessert. We even had enough lamb left over for me to make Moroccan Lamb Stew the next day, so I saved on groceries the following week!

{Stay tuned for Part II}

1 comment:

  1. So fun to read this!! Especially since I was one of the blessed people who was at that dinner party. Next post...Penny's 2nd B-Day party! It was amazing! No surprise there.