Planning your first dinner party? Or are you consummate host looking to up your game? Whatever your background, hosting the perfect dinner party is simple one you understand how to approach the event like a restaurateur.
Step 1: Planning the Menu
The food is the second most important part of any dinner party. When choosing food there are two important things to ask yourself: What are you confident you can make, and where does it fit?
Step 1a: What are you confident you can make?
The key word here is confidence. A well prepared beef burger (if you buy grass fed beef) makes for a thousand times better dinner party than Salad Nicoise with dry salmon, because you weren?t sure how long to sear it.
If you?re an expert cook then feel free to be flashy, but if you?re a novice then don?t feel pressured to cook something new. The important thing is to choose the best quality ingredients available. Commercially available meet is often fattier and likely contains traces of antibiotics. In America, as much as 80% of antibiotics made are given to livestock.
Try buying from your local meat farmers at the local farmer?s market. If there are no farmer?s markets where you live, you can even buy grass fed beef, free range pork, and all sorts of other meat online. And of course, salt and pepper everything.
Step 1b: Where Does It Fit
No, I?m not talking about wine pairing- – at least not yet! Each item of food you incorporate, from your protein to side dishes, salad to dessert has its own unique flavor, and it?s your job to know how to bring that out and make it shine. Look up flavor combinations and try them out! Are you planning on serving Asparagus? Experiment with a little bit of lemon juice or pecorino cheese. Wild Caught Salmon goes great with sweet pee puree. Who knows, you might invent the new chocolate and peanut butter!
Step 2: The Booze
Are you having one big bowl of punch or serving specific wine pairings? Again, you should stick to what your comfortable with. If you don?t know from wine, don?t feel pressured to look up how to do pairings, simply ask someone at your local store to show you a few affordable bottles, one white and one red.
The most important thing about booze, if you choose to offer it, is that you have a lot of it. More than you could reasonably expect to serve. A good dinner party can often stretch into a sitting-and-drinking party. Best to plan ahead
Step 3: The Ambiance
What music to play and whether your tablecloth is nice linen or plastic depends a on the vibe you are trying to create. The important thing is that you have a vibe in mind. Having an idea of what you want the party to feel like will help your guests figure it out too.
There is only one rule of thumb here: Clean! You don?t want to spend the rest of your night cleaning.
In her essay, About Having People to Dinner, Nora Ephron tells you her philosophy for having company: ?You should try to relax about having people over. I have friends who are nervous hostesses, and it just contaminates the entire mood of the evening.?
Whether you buy grass fed beef for burgers, make a five-coarse gourmet meal, or just order Chinese, the most important thing is to have fun! If you aren?t nobody will.