On Throwing Dinner Parties

• 14 November 2007

I often hear people discuss their apprehension regarding hosting dinner parties. To those of you in this boat, read on...

Some key points regarding entertaining:

1. People don't care about the food (they just care about being invited!)

Once I threw a dinner party and really loused up a Barefoot Contessa Rosemary Bean soup. It was inedible. What did we do to appease our 14 guests? B. ordered takeout from our favorite Thai restaurant down the street. Obviously the food wasn't extremely memorable but the laughter, the conversation, the decorations, and the party favors on the way out the door made up for it all. People still had a great time...I think...food aside. No one expects Martha Stewart when they open the door; again, your guests will just be thrilled you thought of them enough to invite them over, even if it is for takeout.

2. Relax and have fun at your own party.

The Barefood Contessa offers many a scrumptious recipe all in the name of "make-ahead" because she emphasizes in each of her cookbooks the importance of being relaxed. If you're running around unhappy, stressed out, and all-around grumpy, guests will feel uncomfortable. To combat any of these feelings do as much as you can ahead of time. If you choose a baked item (roasted chicken, baked ziti, chicken with morels, etc.) this will ease up some time before guests arrive to attend to last-minute details. You can buy & cut up baguettes ahead; make homemade salad dressings ahead; crisp lettuce and chop up salad ingredients ahead; opt for desserts like chocolate pots-de-cremes, which can be made ahead. You get the idea.

Hosting a dinner party for say 8 people is the perfect place to start. Buy a few inexpensive but stylish invitations here, consult the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook for menu ideas here, and choose some unique Christmas music here. Voila, you have yourself an easy-to-put-together and very memorable dinner party. Now start making that guest list!

Who doesn't love a party?


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