Having a last minute dinner party is easy! And you won’t have to spend a ton of time to create something memorable. For something intimate, stick with four people. Or try a dozen friends and family for something a bit more raucous. If you’re new to throwing dinner parties, it’s best to start small and work your way up to something swankier.
Here Are 3 Things to Think about When Putting your Dinner Party Plans in Action
- Theme: I always try to keep a theme in mind, as it helps me build everything around it. It doesn’t need to be terribly complex at all; it just keeps you focused on how to tie everything together.
David’s US Citizen Celebration Cake
- Invitations: No matter what, I send out an invitation. For casual, small gatherings, I tend to do fun email invites, and if I’m doing something more elaborate I like to get inventive with a mailed invitation. I’ve even made my own invitations for just a few bucks. You don’t need to be Martha Stewart to pull off great, homemade invitations!
- Food Menu: This doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it’s great if your food and drink reflect the theme.
To help you think of some themes, here are three options that fit the winter season:
1. Winter Whimsy Potluck: If you’re on a tight budget, gather a few friends together and have them each bring a menu item for a fun feast. Each person or couple should bring either the appetizer, entrée or dessert course, with a retro Americana theme that spells simple homemade and has foods we love.
- Invitation: This fun stars invite is festive and won’t cost you one cent since it’s electronic.
- Decorate: Put on some good old-fashioned holiday music in the background, and hang some inexpensive store bought snowflakes around the room. If you’re crafty, you could even make these yourself.
- Appetizers: Baked nachos or a 7 Layer Dip, sweet and sour meatballs
- Entrée: Kathy’s mac n’ cheese, a simple meatloaf or chili
- Dessert: Apple crisp with a side of vanilla ice-cream
- Fun: Buy a copy of The Book of Questions, and have a good cackle over how guests answer thought-provoking queries—you might learn something new about friends.
2. Slate-n-Snow: Think a 1940’s monochrome movie — like an updated Casablanca — where your guests get to dress up in elegant black and white.
- Invitation: Go classy and simple. Spend the money on printed invites if you’ve got the time.
- Decorate: Some warm holiday jazz in the background will do the trick in terms of setting the mood. Popping lots of red candles around for a punch of color and a few strings of twinkling white lights will put a cool vibe on your place. Since this is a more formal affair that will likely be a sit-down dinner, make sure you sit people artfully around your table for the best conversation.
- Appetizer: Butternut Squash Soup or French Onion Soup; cheese platter
- Entrée: Shrimp Scampi over fettuccini pasta; garlic bread
- Dessert: Chocolate Dipped Strawberries; Irish Coffee
Adding Cream to Irish Coffee
- Fun: As an icebreaker, you could try an interesting movie party game and see how long you can keep it going.
3. Dessert Party: Who says a dinner party has to have a traditional meal? You can just skip the grub and have a post-dinner get together that has a sugary angle. Simply invite friends over and have each bring something sweet. It’s important to have variety and not have everyone bring something too similar.
- Invitation: Let them know there’s pie and other goodies with this fun invite that says it all.
- Decorate: Tall taper candles, candy canes and some holiday bows
- Menu: Pop an inexpensive bottle of champagne to get things started, and suggest friends bring chocolate fudge, pecan pie, chocolate brownies, chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes. The more variety the better!
- Fun: Put on a favorite old holiday film like It’s a Wonderful Life, and enjoy your friends as you close out another year. Or ask friends to bring a humorous $5 gift — put them all in a bag, and have fun seeing what each person gets.
No matter what you do for your dinner party, just remember — it doesn’t have to be complicated! It’s all about your friends and family, getting together and enjoying each others’ company. So don’t stress, keep it relaxed and enjoy yourself.
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