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Entertaining at home, while fun for many, can overwhelm the most seasoned party vet! The pressure of trying to appeal to everyone’s comfort and taste can be staggering! And, when you are inviting the masses (or even if it just seems like you are), the pressure multiplies exponentially.
But, believe it or not, planning a big dinner party can be easier than you might think.
Entertaining At Home – Tips From An Expert
Here are some great ideas from lifestyle expert and author, Karen Robinovitz
Choose A Theme
From picking the menu to planning décor and selecting a dress code, giving your party a theme ensures a common thread and comfort level for your guests. It gives them something to get excited about prior to the event and stimulates conversation during the party. Also, choosing a unique and creative dress code or simply asking guests to wear their black-tie best ensures that a glamorous evening will ensue.
Keep It Simple
There is no need to have an elaborate sit-down dinner to achieve elegance at your event. Instead, serve your meal buffet style. A buffet is an excellent way to showcase creatively plated dishes that are not only visually appealing but also make for easy serving. Use interesting serving pieces as a way to add character to the presentation.
Indulgence is Everything
The anticipation is high as everyone wonders what will be served for dessert. For the most important part of the evening, cookies are a classic treat and can be presented alone or as a complement to other desserts. Pepperidge Farm offers a variety of delicious and indulgent cookies-from Milano to Pirouette to Chessmen, there’s a cookie for everyone. For added elegance, serve Mini Chocolate Chunk Nantuckets and Mini Chessmen and call them “petit fours,” or arrange cookies on a decorative platter for a beautiful presentation.
Create the Perfect Ambience
Delicious food is only one component of a successful party. A good host/hostess knows that gatherings should be multi-sensory. Background music and ambient lighting are critical when trying to create an inviting setting in which guests can relax. Musical selections dictate the tone of the event while dim lights and candles provide warmth and sophistication to any room. For added glamor, try displaying candles in unique ways, such as arranging pillars of varying heights or floating votives in water.
The most important thing to remember during your dinner party is to enjoy yourself! Your guests undoubtedly care more about your company than whether every detail goes according to plan. Even if your new recipe isn’t the success you’d hoped for, smile and relish the memories you’re making with friends and loved ones.
Here are My Two Cents 🙂
I have to agree with Karen on many points, most especially beginning with a party theme! Every other decision you have to make for the event can be answered by looking at your theme.
Here is an example of a party we threw for my husband’s 60th birthday (ahem … he is MUCH older than me!)
(…okay … maybe five months older isn’t really considered MUCH …)
Scott loves to play cards and enjoys the occasional guy trip to Vegas. He is also a lifelong James Bond enthusiast. What could be more perfect than to have a Casino Night!
Here are the ways the theme answered all my questions:
We turned our house into Monte Carlo for a night! We rented professional gaming tables and had a poker room, blackjack room and craps room – complete with table personnel. The rental company even printed the “money” with my husband’s picture on it.
Our invitations were James Bond-themed, and we asked our guests to come dressed to impress Lady Luck.
… And they DID!
We went all out and had it catered. If we were coordinating the food ourselves, the theme would still have helped inform the menu! Our catering company had names for the food they served such as silver-dollar wontons, gold nugget sliders, blackjack teriyaki skewers …
The real cake was a fabulous arrangement of cards and red and black poker chips.
Our son, Evan, created an amazing playlist of The Rat Pack, along with music from Oceans 11 and other assorted gambler-type songs. It was very, very fun!
We hired an impersonator who performed as Elvis for the first half of his act and Dean Martin for the second. He announced winners of the door prizes, and then organized everyone to bring the birthday boy into the entryway to sing Happy Birthday while Marilyn Monroe popped out of a cake. (It was my second and FINAL appearance as Marilyn!)
More Party Theme Ideas:
So Casino Night might not fill the bill for you, but whatever inklings of what you want for the party should help you arrive at a theme, so you can build out everything else from there.
Maybe you just found a wonderful recipe for Pork Ramen that everybody loved. So you could do an Asian-inspired night (always elegant), or an Around The World party and serve a number of different cultural cuisines. Italian Night offers wonderful opportunities for music and setting the scene – Hints of an old villa, perhaps?
Is your local beverage store having a sale? Take advantage and throw a wine-tasting event! You could consider focusing on a specific wine-growing region, or a particular grape. Want to step it up a notch? Try inserting an international bottled water such as Acqua Panna® Natural Spring Water or S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water into the tasting schedule. Both Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino are ideal for wine parties because they help complement the flavors, cleanse the palate and enhance the entire tasting experience.
Of course, holidays, favorite movies and special occasions are all great themes to build out a party from. The key is to keep it tightly focused so you don’t overwhelm yourself, or your guests!
In short, if you want to throw a large party that:
- Makes the decision-making simple
- Allows guests to participate and interact with others
- Keeps party-goers entertained, and,
- Takes the pressure off you, so you can have a great time, too,
decide on a theme before all else. You will all be so glad you did!!
PS: Still need help deciding on a party theme? These resources can help!