I’m planning a fun dinner party for 8! Nothing over the top fancy, but a meal that will scrumptious and easy to prepare! The key to a perfect party is to be organized, make lists, do as much as you can in advance and enjoy your guests! I love to have dinner parties! But I don’t like to be stressed out! So here are some great tips for having a successful and memorable get together!
Everyone loves Italian! Here’s the MENU
- EASY HORS D’OEUVRES
- THE BEST CAESAR SALAD YOU WILL EVER EAT
- BAKED ZITI WITH GRANDMA LO BIANCO’S NO FAIL MEATBALLS MEAT BALLS (to be posted soon)
- PARMESAN PUFF PASTRY BREAD STICKS
- TIRAMISU (to be posted)
- WINE AND COFFEE
Doesn’t that sound yummy! Let’s look at some easy to execute ways to make your next dinner fabulous and enjoyable for YOU!
MAKE AN EASY TO PREPARE MEAL
Both comfortable and elegant meals can be prepared ahead. The secret is to find the right kind of recipes! Look for ones that will taste fabulous even if they are prepared a day before!
If I am making a meal I buy the hors d’oeuvres. And they are usually easy and scrumptious. Since my meal is Italian I picked out some bruschetta, olives and marinaded fresh mozzarella balls from the fresh deli at my local grocers. Little crostini accompanies them. A great way to let my guest nibble and not get full.
This is the number one best way to be organized and feel in charge. Make a menu, shopping list, and a to-do countdown list. If you fail to plan you plan to fail. That’s true, for sure!
MAKE MOST OF YOUR FOOD AHEAD
I’m not one for making a-big-production-of-a-meal while my guest wait for dinner. I once went to a dinner party where the stressed out hostess made the entire dinner while we waited. She did not accept help either. I can’t remember the meal, but I sure can remember feeling uncomfortable for her and tired by the time I ate my meal… at midnight!
I love mingling and chatting and having fun too.
Start a few days ahead making what you can. I’ll be making Grandma Lo Bianco’s No Fail Meatballs and the Caesar Salad dressing a few days ahead and refrigerate them.
The puff pastry bread sticks will be made the day before, put on parchment lined baking sheets, covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated. I’ll pop it into the oven while the salad is being served!
I’ll be pulling the baked ziti together the morning of the dinner party. All I have to do is pop it in the oven when the guest arrive!
The tiramisu and will be made the morning of the party too and popped into the refrigerator.
A couple hours before company comes I’ll clean and tear the lettuce and keep it wrapped in paper towels in plastic bags in the refrigerator. I’ll I have to do is put it in a bowl and toss it then serve it!
Don’t forget to chill the white wine and get your coffee pot ready for a crowd!
Set the table ahead of time! I like to set it 2 days ahead. And get out all serving dishes.
MAKE ICE CUBES
I seem to always run out of ice when I have company coming! Most probably because my refrigerator is over 20 years old.
Instead of buying bags of extra ice at a local store I make it myself and keep it in zip type bags. Start a couple days ahead and make several bags.
I’m looking for a new refrigerator and love love love the great refrigerator in the Kenmore Pro Line! This french door, high tech refrigerator has more capacity using less space. Just exactly what I need! Click HERE to see it! If you are interested, you can see great videos about the features I love like Genius Cool Technology to keep food fresh, the pantry door (love it), and it has amazing clean filtered air. And the part I love the most is the ice maker!
Oh I really can see this frig in my kitchen!
USE AN EASY CENTERPIECE AND LOTS OF CANDLES!
I buy my flowers, plants, veggies and fruit to use as centerpieces at my local grocers. Don’t spend tons of money on a centerpiece. Be creative! I found these little peachy orange roses and white tulips on sale at my grocery store. Score!!!
Candlelight really sets the right mood. Be lavish with candlelight in your home and at the table!
DON’T FORGET THE MUSIC
Bobby and I love the “standards” even though they were well before our time. It’s great dinner music. We wouldn’t think of a dinner party without great music. I may play some wonderful Frank Sinatra for my Italian Dinner! So fun!
TIMING IS EVERYTHING!
Make yourself a timeline! It’s a schedule not written in stone, but it will help you to remember things like preheat the oven, put ice and water in the glasses, etc.
- Hors d’oeuvres out of frig at 7:30. Assemble crostini on plate.
- Light candles 7:45
- Put on great music 7:45
- Preheat oven… don’t forget this! 7:55
- Guest arrive at 8:00
- Hors d’oeuvres till 8:30
- Pour ice and water in glasses 8:30
- Put Baked Ziti into the oven 8:30
- Toss salad 8:30
- Dinner call 8:35
- Serve Salad 8:40-9:00
- Put Parmesan Puff Pastry Breadsticks in oven 9:00
- Take baked ziti out of the oven and cover 9:00
- Collect salad plates 9:05
- Serve wine 9:05
- Take breadsticks out of the oven 9:10, let sit 5 minutes and put in bread basket on table
- Serve dinner 9:15
- Coffee and Tiramisu in the living room 9:50
- Serve after dinner drinks 9:50
It’s time like this that I wish I had a double oven. Sadly, I only have one! I make due, but sometimes it’s a juggling act. Here the double oven I would choose….
Gorgeous, I know! It’s from the Sear Kenmore Pro line! This top of the line oven has a convection oven (LOVE), a temperature probe and professional, precise knobs. To see more about it click HERE.
LET EVERYONE HELP
If one of your guests ask to help… SAY YES! Put anyone to work that asks. The only thing that is completely off limits is the dishwasher. No loading the dishwasher while guest are in your home! It’s kills the fun spirit and signals “night over”!
Make having friends over to share a meal and a good time fun for everyone! INCLUDING YOU!
A big thank you to Sears for sponsoring this post.