Don’t be scared to host a party (a real dinner party with utensils – not a pizza party). I know it’s daunting when you’re out of the house working all week. By the time the weekend comes around, you’re ready to kick your feet up on the couch with some comfort food and the thought of having people over for ***gasp*** a dinner that you’ve cooked might be the last thing you want to do.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret – your guests will always appreciate any effort you put into gathering your friends together and feeding them. Chances are your friends are just like you – they work, they might have young kids, and while they may be a whiz at predicting what direction the economy is going in, they probably draw a blank at times when it comes to figuring out what to do for dinner. By default this means they will LOVE that you were proactive enough to bring a group of friends together and save them from having to decide what to make that night.
So don’t be scared that you can’t handle this – YOU CAN. Read on for my survival kit of serving essentials – the first step towards hosting a successful party.
Serving Dishes – You can go crazy here with all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors but to start, all you need is a set of plain white serving dishes that will be the perfect backdrop to what you’re serving.
– Large, deep bowl – to be used for salad or soup
– Flat, rectangular dish – for appetizers as well as your entrée
– Round wide dish that is about 2-3” deep – for your entrée
– Raised cake platter – this will double not only for the most obvious reason (dessert) but can also be used for your appetizers, entrees and sides. The height makes for great presentation and I often break this out for morning brunch or to serve up a main course at dinner
– Bread basket – any basket will do here. You can line it with a nice kitchen towel (don’t use it in the kitchen if you’re using it for bread!). Don’t invest in an actual bread basket – they tend to be over priced and you can pull one together yourself by buying a long rectangular basket from Wal-Mart or Target and just lining it with a kitchen towel. Note on the kitchen towel – it should be made of thin material. Don’t put a bath towel in your bread basket – your guests might start to doubt your entertaining abilities 😉
Dinner Set or Paper Products – Either one will work. I tend to use a dinner set for small, intimate gatherings (no more than 8-10 people) and paper products for anything above 10. If you’re having a small get together but don’t have a dinner set to serve everyone, or just don’t want to deal with the dishes afterwards, not to worry. There are some amazing disposable plates out there that look just like an actual dinner set.
Regardless of which path you go down, here’s what you will need –
– Appetizer plates/bowls – choose depending on what you’re planning to serve
– Salad bowls – this is optional and only necessary if you’re planning on doing a salad course. If you’re just serving salad along with the entrée, no need to get a separate bowl for it
– Entrée plates – make sure they’re large enough to accommodate everything you’re serving and sturdy. Nobody wants to be that person that ends up snapping a plate in half as they’re trying to cut a piece of chicken. I know this because I’ve been that person – so try to avoid Styrofoam plates at all costs.
– Dessert plate/bowls – choose depending on what you’re planning to serve
– Cold drink cups
– Hot drink cups
– Utensils – forks, knives, spoons – you’ll need to be careful here and plan it out according to what you’re serving. You will most likely need utensils all the way through dessert and coffee (don’t forget people need spoons to stir sugar into their coffee).
– Serving utensils – I keep the following on hand all the time – a ladle for soup, large fork/spoon for salad, tongs for pasta; large, flat, spatula like spoons (2) for meat dishes; regular sized serving spoons (2) and cake knives (1-2)
– Napkins – again, you’ll need enough to get you through dessert
– Paper towels – These are in case of an emergency clean up – don’t leave them in your garage as you’ll probably end up cursing at yourself if you end up needing them.
That’s it! That wasn’t so difficult was it?