Over the last year, you’ve probably attended or hosted very few dinner parties. To the introverts in the crowd, this hiatus may have been a relief. But no matter who you are, we’re going to take a guess and say everyone is craving some level of social stimulation. And what better way to make that happen than by hosting a little dinner gathering?
To keep things low stakes as we ease back into the normalcy of hanging out with friends, dare we say, spontaneously, here’re our favorite tips for hosting a low-key dinner party. When the whole point is to eat great food in the company of people you enjoy, why not take the pressure off and do just that?
Spread Out The Spread
If the recent lack of interaction with your entire friend group has you forgetting everyone’s specific tastes and dietary restrictions, the easiest way to ensure everyone’s happy is to order a wide array of cuisines and dishes. Sure, they may not all technically blend together, but luckily, everyone likes different things. Order a wide array of cuisines and dishes, like chicken wings, burgers, tacos and burritos, meatball subs, and chicken parm sandwiches. Think of this dinner as the ultimate diner menu, where no matter how picky, spice averse or inclined, vegetarian, or carnivorous your guests are, they’ll be something that hits the spot for everyone. And if you sense that there’s a dish that’s going to be a real crow pleaser, order multiple servings of it. To make this smorgasbord easier to enjoy, set the table with an array of plates and bowls so people can mix, match, and try it all.
Don’t let the task of plating or serving stress you out. At this point, people are probably more used to eating out of delivery containers than serving themselves from fancy platters. Put everything on the table and let your friends serve themselves. This way, people can choose what they want and eat at a leisurely pace to make the night last. If you do want to up the tablescape game a little, do some of both – put the dishes you feel are the star of the dinner on a platter, and leave the smaller side dishes in the containers they came in. One thing you’ll definitely want to do is ditch any plastic serveware and replace it with cute serving spoons, colorful tongs, and shiny forks.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: sauce is, in fact, the secret sauce. To minimize any running around once everyone sits down and maximize relaxation, put every type of sauce someone might crave for flavor enhancement on the table. We’re talking all the hot sauces, a bowl of extra marinara sauce, blue cheese and ranch, and of course, the classic ketchup, mustard, and mayo trio.
Keep It Open Bar
Rather than sticking to a strict cocktail menu, supply an array of beverages, from beer to wine, to a classic martini. Not only does it reduce the prep work, but your guests can also choose their drink based on what pairs well with their cravings. If someone doesn’t drink, make a small batch of non-alcoholic punch that everyone will enjoy.
Out With Order
Since this dinner party is anything but formal, standard course order rules don’t apply. That means dessert can be anytime – between chicken wings and fries or before a bite of salad. The point of this get-together is comfort, ease, and relaxation, and what says that better than pints of ice cream and treats scattered throughout the spread? If you’re worried about the ice cream melting, fill up some cute bowls with ice for the pints to sit in.
Say Peace To Perfection
One potential mantra for this low-key dinner party could be: “fancy the enemy of fun.” Yes, the food is the star of the show, but it’ll be best enjoyed if the group is having fun and feeling relaxed, and creating a casual, stress-free ambiance is the surest way to make this happen.