How to Host a Dinner Party without Even Trying

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As young adults, going out to parties, hitting the hottest nightclubs, and staying out till all hours was appealing. Now, several kids, a job, and many responsibilities later – NOTSOMUCH. But staying in with friends, a good bottle of wine, a great meal and a cozy ambience does appeal to most of us. Here’s how to throw a dinner party they’ll talk about for weeks (ok, days) without even looking like you tried.

hosting-dinner-partyKISS – Keep it simple, small. To achieve the utmost in intimate, invite only a few friends. A perfect number of guests can be as few as six or as many as ten (if your table can handle it). Keep this is mind as you do your inviting. Also, this is the perfect opportunity to re-pay others for inviting you, and for introducing friends.

Food – If you love to cook and funds are a non-issue, go all out and attempt that osso bucco or order in from your favorite sushi spot. But if, like most of us, you’re taking care of kids the day of your party and not looking to spend $1000 on food, consider these tips:

  • Everyone loves appetizers. Serve a whole bunch and your guests won’t expect (or want) a four-course meal. Trader Joes has fabulous, inexpensive hors d’oeuvres that are oven-ready. Or, make your own! Try simple bruschetta, homemade hummus and bagel chips, and a cheese plate.
  • Cooking for a crowd can be overwhelming so staying simple is important. An Italian theme is safe and can be interesting and tasty. Choose easy dishes but make them with fine ingredients. A Caesar salad made with real parmesan cheese and homemade croutons is a crowd-pleaser. Buy fresh pasta and create an aromatic and delicious White Wine Mushroom Pasta. Serve it with fresh crusty bread and some good olive oil, and you can call it a meal.
  • Dessert does not have to be intricate. Make something simple like rich chocolate mousse that doesn’t require more than a few ingredients and a blender – and spice it up by serving it in martini glasses with a berry on top! Your guests will love the attention to detail, and you will be grateful for the 15-minute recipe.
  • Drink. If you’re into it, go ahead and mix fruity cocktails. If you’re up for something simpler, you can’t go wrong with wine. Choose your color and head to your local wine store for some recommendations. Remember to keep a pitcher of water with lemon and a variety of soft drinks on hand for non-drinkers. But no soda cans on the table!! Pitchers are pretty.


– Presentation is a big piece of entertaining and while it should be done with care, it does not have to take hours or cost hundreds. Make your own arrangements! This can be done using colorful fruit which can be eaten with dessert or after the party. Big, beautiful oranges or lemons placed carefully in a large vase can be stunning, yet simple. Or hit the farmers market and buy a bunch of flowers and cut them down into a low vase to make an elegant centerpiece infused with style and color. Also, Trader Joes sells inexpensive flowers that lend themselves to this type of project.

Ambiance – Light a fire, turn up the tunes, whatever you do to create the atmosphere should represent who you are.

The point of a dinner party is to gather with friends without the time constraints of a restaurant and to create a more intimate feel. No matter how you create your evening, be sure to relax, unwind, and have fun!

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