Entertaining Ideas
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Our 1st Dinner Party & I need help!

We were originally planning on having a game night with another couple who invited another couple and then it turned into our dinner party scheduled for 10/23.

So how do you throw one and what is usual? Tips, tricks?

Re: Our 1st Dinner Party & I need help!

  • Advice: make something that you know how to do well.  Even if it isn't fancy do what you know.  Make or prep every thing you can ahead of time.  If I do something that I can't make ahead I still chop all my veg and herbs ahead.

    Give your husband tasks- when people arrive DH greets them, takes coats, and gets the first drink order.  If people haven't been here before he also lets them know where things are.

    Lastly, a fresh vase of flowers and some candles go a long way to setting a modd.

  • Get a run down of people's dietary needs.  If you plan on making something that might trigger allergies or aversions, let people know--for example, if I'm serving shrimp, I'll put a note like "If you have an allergy or aversion to shellfish, please let me know as soon as possible."

    Ditto pp on choosing recipes you're familiar with.  Include your table setting in your plans--ahead of time decide the level of formality, what linens, dishes, etc you'll need.  You can set the table days in advance.

    Plan music, flowers and candles.  You won't need anything else for decor or ambiance if you have these three things.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!!

  • I agree with the others on doing something you know you do well. That will take away most of your stress!

    A few other tips -

     - Some kind of appetizer platter that guests can munch on as they arrive is great. It gives hungry guests something to munch on in case you need a few last minutes to prep. (cheese, crackers, and fruit is great, or if we serve mexican we do chips and salsa, or italian we serve bruschetta)

    -If you have a recipe that has the last step "bake for 30 minutes, serve" it's great. Stuff like enchiladas, baked pastas, etc. You can pop them in the oven before guests arrive, be completely done with prep, and great and visit with your guests while it finishes cooking.

    - Relax! :) Nothing makes a dinner party more enjoyable than a host who looks calm and relaxed. Frantically running back and forth from the kitchen to your guests will make them feel like a burden.


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  • I agree with others about choosing an easy menu.  Do simple things well. 

    For your first party, I would suggest against doing a hot app.  Do something easy like Knorr spinach dip in a bread bowl, cheese and crackers, veggies and dip.

    For an entree, choose something that needs minimal attention.  I love grilling for dinner parties because I can hand that off to DH/male guests.  That means not only am I not fussing with something, but men who aren't certain what to do and get underfoot instead go congregate out by the grill.

    For big parties, I always lay out my table linens a week prior and drag out all my serving dishes.  This might be good for you for your first party.  I take post-its and mark which dishes will be used for which dishes.  This makes it easier on you - no digging through things that night trying to find the right dish.

    Skip cocktails that need fussing, especially things like margaritas that need a blender; just serve beer and wine. 

  • Ditto all of the pp's.  They gave you great advice. GL and let us know how it goes!
    BabyFruit Ticker
  • What time should a dinner party start and end?

    As for recipes that I know and do well... ugh.... i don't really make anything... LOL My husband cooks and I reheat... No joke. With the exception of Mahi Mahi on a grill and portobella mushroom caps on the grill, I pretty much can't cook anything. Anyone have a good, fun, easy food idea?? I think we are looking at 3-5 other couples who will come over. 

    Oh, and is it dumb to play a game?

  • The timing & game thing depends on your friends. We usually have people over around 630 or 7, eat dinner, and then afterwards we usually play cards or a board game or something to wait for food to digest so we can dig into dessert & coffee. 

    Our friends with kids tend to leave around 10, those without will stay later and hang out for a good while. 

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  • How formal do you want it to be?  Is it casual i.e. jeans or people in dress clothes? 

     Here are ideas for very informal

    As far as cooking, do you have a slow cooker?  That could be a no fail, you could do chicken philly's.  Chicken breasts with chicken stock in the slow cooker, cut up some peppers, have good rolls and swiss cheese.

     Then just add a side.  You could do roasted potatoes, au gratin potatoes, easy chips.  Maybe a veggie if you feel you need it.

     As others mentioned, good cheese with crackers, easy app.

  • adding, only one starch, not the numerous I listed
  • What time should a dinner party start and end?

    As for recipes that I know and do well... ugh.... i don't really make anything... LOL My husband cooks and I reheat... No joke. With the exception of Mahi Mahi on a grill and portobella mushroom caps on the grill, I pretty much can't cook anything. Anyone have a good, fun, easy food idea?? I think we are looking at 3-5 other couples who will come over. 

    Oh, and is it dumb to play a game?


    Re: time - maybe 4pmish for apps and serve dinner around 6 or 7.  It also depends how far your guests have to drive, will they be drinking, are they hiring baby sitters or staying the night... if they're good friends of yours maybe feel them out for that.

    Re: Menu  - if you make Mahi Mahi and Portobella Mushrooms well on the grill... that is what I would serve.  You'll be more comfortable with it and sounds delicious...  Can serve that with boxed rice or cous cous.  Also  there are lots of blogs with great recipes on the "Whats Cooking" board.  I especially like Joelen's and MartiniLoves blogs. 

     Re: Apps and Desserts - if you really don't cook - can buy them at Trader Joe's and your local Bakery... 

    I also recommend the book "The Bride and Groom's First and Forever Cookbook" by the Corpening sisters available on Amazon for Lasagna, Torte, Mexican Layer Dip, Pesto, Balsamic Dressing and Cosmopolitan Recipes...  with easy to follow recipes for the novice cook.

    Re: Games - we don't usually do them - but others on this board love them - so it is really up to you.

     Good Luck!  and please let us know how it goes. :)

  • I have yet to host my 1st dinner party (H and I live in a 1 bedroom apartment, so we're waiting til we get a house), so I don't have a lot of advice.  However, we do have a friend or two over for dinner once in a while.  I would recommend something in a crockpot.  It's easy and it will keep it warm while you mingle, if it's done early.  As far as games go, it depends on the crowd.  My friends and I can be dressed to the nines, but still sit around after dinner and play a game.  My mom refuses to play a game unless she can be in jeans and a t-shirt first. 
  • image kellygraham17:
    I have yet to host my 1st dinner party (H and I live in a 1 bedroom apartment, so we're waiting til we get a house), so I don't have a lot of advice.  . 

    Aww, don't wait!! We had a full family Thanksgiving in our 900 square foot apartment the first year we were married, and it was a great memory :) We just got creative and moved furniture around, and pushed folding tables up to our dining table and covered everything with a tablecloth. 

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  • I used to always freak out over entertaining, making sure the house was spotless, etc. Now I just do a little at a time the week before. If I give my husband a little list of vacuuming, putting away the treadmill, etc., to be done the day before he takes care of things in his own time and greatly takes away from the stress.

    Try to plan it out so you have time to get ready, and you're not sweating in the kitchen 30 minutes before your guests are scheduled to arrive.  

    For easy entertaining, choose a menu where basically everything can be prepared the night before (or at least earlier in the day), then all you have to do is pop the main course in the oven when the guests arrive. The crock pot can also be your best friend.

    I like the Bride and Groom cookbook, too. The chicken pot pies in there are really easy, and plate nicely. Serve some appetizers and a salad, then the pot pies are the main course. Follow up with a little cheese and fruit plate, then do a cool chocolate or raspberry mousse that you can prepare the night before. These menu suggestions, of course, depend on your preferences and your guests' dietary needs.


  • When ever the DH and I host a party we have several very simple things that we do to help ease the stress on us.

    1. We ask people to rsvp, just so we know how much food to have.

    2. We set a theme, Beatles Rock Band, Board Game Night, Wii Night, etc.

    3. We ask (especially the couples who we are close to) if people would mind bringing a drink, or small side with them. This helps us with the hosting cost.

    4. Clean the house the day before, if you clean it any futher in advance something will just get dirty, and then you will stress out like crazy.

    5. Most importantly, Just Have FUN!!!

     Good Luck, and let us know how it goes Party!!!

    cr BFP- Nov 4, 2010 MC- 12-13-10 you will be missed little one BFP- 2/16/2012 MC- 3/29/2012 another angel in heaven
  • I hosted Christmas Eve in our 500 square foot apartment last year for 5 people.  No need for a house.  We moved furniture around as well and turned our desk into a serving table for drinks.  I put out a folding table and chairs with a gorgeous red table cloth and simple Christmas tree centerpiece made out of silver ball ornaments.  I got small boxes of Godiva chocolate on everyone's plate and put a tag on them with their name as place cards.

    I mad a very impressive looking dinner that was easy to make so I could hang out with my guests.  Like other people have said, plan ahead as much as possible.  I made almost everything ahead.  I served the following:

    I put cheese and pepperoni and crackers out
    I premade Barefoot Contessa's (Ina Garten) ham and cheese in puffed pastry and popped it in the oven when everyone arrived 

    I served Barefoot Contessa's Pork Loin with Peppercorns (just let it cook in the oven while I hung out with everyone)
    Roasted Red Potatoes
    Roasted Asparagus
    Pilsbury Crescent Rolls (bake while the pork rests)

    I made a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting ahead of time and served cookies, tea, and coffee 

    Enjoy! Good luck! 

  • Honestly, when it comes to hosting a dinner party, you just gotta know your guests. We drew a lot of clues from what they do at their dinner parties.  They often serve caribbean food, but I don't like to cook, so I ordered catered caribbean dishes that I know they like and made a simple side dish and dessert to add my personal touch. Our guests know each other very well, so we didn't need to worry about doing ice breakers or games to get everyone warmed up; YouTube playing on our TV hooked to our cpu was enough, but most dinner parties I went to had a movie to play, usually of a light, funny genre. I knew there would be kids aged 7- 16 who would be restless in a small house so we set up a game console in one section of the home and told them to bring their favorite games to play. I told people to come by 5 pm but people didn't start showing up until 6:30 pm and later so I would say the latter would be a good start time. I did my deep cleaning a week before and just did basic tidying a day before. I also had breakfast trays into which I inserted black/white pictures of my guests. I gave them the pictures at the end with a note of thanks on the back.

     Hope something in that verbal vomit helps.

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