June 18, 2009

Simple Weekday Dinner Party

Hosting small impromptu dinner parties in the middle of the week is one of my favorite hobbies. I love catching up with friends as much as I enjoy the process of putting something together. We are as busy as most, so in order to pull it off, I follow a few tips to keep my dinners SIMPLE and SPECIAL.

The SIMPLE PART:

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1) Think of your dinner party as “a couple extras” coming for a meal. If you keep weekday dinner parties small by inviting one couple or one family at a time, it is much easier to “throw” something together. I like to choose one meal a week on my menu plan and add a little extra (or double) the ingredients on my weekly grocery list. Ultimately, this saves time and money and makes the whole idea of impromtu weekday entertaining…not so “big”. If you end up NOT entertaining, use the extra food for left-over lunches or a second meal.

2) Keep the main meal to three simple dishes that take under and hour to prepare. I usually stick with a formula for weekday entertaining…a protein, a carb, a green and a store-bought desert. Last night, I served, Drunken Chicken, Warm Orzo Salad, and a Green Salad (from the garden). Try to have 90% of the meal EN ROUTE by the time your guests arrive. When my guests arrived last night, chicken was in the oven, salad was made, cookies were plated…that gave me the time to “be with my friends” instead of “in the kitchen”.

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3) For a quick table setting, keep an “off-the-shelf” table setting ready to go. My stocked option is all things “white and clear”. Clean white napkins, white candles, white plates, glass votives, and a few white accented items. I change the look of my table by switching out flowers and table cloths. White looks GREAT with almost EVERYTHING! I have purchased a lot of my “white collection” from stores like Home Goods or Tuesday Morning for next to nothing.

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4) Buy store bought desserts (Trader Joes offers the most AMAZING deserts) or ask your guests to bring one (I don’t enjoy baking so this is a quick way for me to save time). Last night I baked snicker doodles (frozen dough) and served them with fresh fruit salad (brought by friends)…EASY PEASY. This is the perfect item to ask a guest to bring because STORE bought options are so good.

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THE SPECIAL PART:

5) If you have time, try to make each place setting special by giving “their” place a name with a little gift. My children LOVE to make place cards so I keep plain white cards (I buy them by the box at Michaels) and cut them down to little squares. Yesterday I asked the girls to make flowers on each card. I gift my guests with SIMPLE, INEXPENSIVE or FREE…sprigs of oregano from the garden, small chocolates, a votive candle tied with ribbon..these are all easy items to keep “on hand” and surely will make your guest smile.

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6) Last but not least…stay in the moment during dinner. Weekday meals tend to last a shorter amount of time than a weekend event, so enjoy every moment. LAUGH, SHARE STORIES, TALK POLITICS, BOOKS, DREAMS…this is what makes time with friends so special.

One rule I follow ALWAYS…NEVER do dishes when friends or family are in the house for a small weekday dinner party…You might miss the best part of the night…BEING WITH FRIENDS.

Also, don’t forget…it is “A Beautiful Life” Friday over at The Inspired Room . It is a great weekend treat!

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Comments (6)

Rebecca said:

Wise advice, and stunning images in this post! They just keep getting better and better…


Jasmine @ The Suburban Sentiment said:

Simply fabulous. I love the simplicity here. And these little golden rules sound great; the whole point of having friends over is to share in the moments, have a good time, and just enjoy the company.


Michelle said:

What a great post. I need these reminders!


Beverly said:

I love planning dinner parties, too. Everyone enjoys being made to feel special.

I’ve missed you at Pink Saturday. I hope you will join us again sometime.


Valerie said:

Beautiful post. Thanks for all of the great tips! I am going to have to try this out…perhaps next week?!!!


Angela @ ImagineCozy said:

You do make it sound so easy. I really like what you said about the dishes. When you are so worried about cleaning up the mess you do not relax and enjoy the company.
Thanks for the great tips.


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