Dinner Party Do List

Oh my gosh, I haven’t posted in so long! I blame wedding season!

I recently had someone ask me whether or not they should bring anything to a dinner party at a friend’s place. I told them yes. Then they said the friend told them they really didn’t need to bring anything and I told them, “It doesn’t matter! Bring something!” It’s always easier to ask forgiveness rather than permission and you shouldn’t be bothering the party planner with such an awkward question anyway.

If someone is inviting you to a dinner party, then they are assuming they will be doing all the work. No one out there is mad if people didn’t go potluck-style on their dinner. Unless otherwise specified, you’re free and clear.

However, who likes to show up empty handed? (I know a few guys who would unashamedly shout, “I DO!” at this question, but we’re talking about us here and we’re trying to be polite!) Bringing a small gift or item to share is more than just having good table manners, it’s thoughtful and classy. I have put together a list so next time you aren’t standing at your barren cupboard and wondering if it’s more appropriate to bring a can of Spaghettios or a half-empty bottle of Bailey’s.

Next time you’re heading over to enjoy a lovely home-cooked meal with friends or family, try picking up one of the following:

Bread or Rolls:

breadbasket

Pick up some good bread or rolls at your local bakery. Or, if you have enough time, bake some yourself. If at all possible, please try to pre-plate or basket the rolls in some kind of way that makes sense. Showing up with a paper bag full of bread is reminiscent of showing up at a buddy’s house with a bag of  greasy doughnuts after a night of heavy drinking.

Alcohol:

Is there a theme to the party? Try to feel it out and make your decision based on that. Champagne is always fun, especially if the dinner is a celebration. Bringing a bottle of tequila to a fancy dinner party probably isn’t appropriate. Unless you’re also bringing greasy doughnuts for the morning after.

Dessert:

pie

Your host or hostess may have this covered. However, a lot of people get a little lazy about dessert since they’re so focused on serving a delicious meal. Try to make the dessert easy to store. If the party-thrower has a plan for dessert, maybe they can save the dessert you brought as a gift for themselves later in the week.

A Small Gift:

Locally roasted coffee to share. You can't go wrong!

Locally roasted coffee to share. You can’t go wrong!

 

Any small “thank you” item is great! Something enjoyed by the entire party is always nice: a candle, flowers or plant for the centerpiece, some small decoration if it’s a holiday party, good gourmet coffee or tea to brew after the meal is through.

The goal here is to not over do it but show that you appreciate that this person that cares enough to put in the time, cost and effort into organizing a get together.  They also cared enough to invite you. Small gestures go a long way!

Healthy Cooking Party

I’m going to be honest, I’m a food judger. It’s not that I  care if people are over weight or not. Everyone is going at their own pace. I’m more for concerned for their taste buds and energy levels. Think of all the variety people are missing out on… there is literally a rainbow of fresh fruit and produce to be enjoying!

When lined up at Safeway with my cart full of veggies, whole grains and a little junk food (Cheez-Its are my weakness!), I’m always checking out what other people are going to eat. Last week, a woman in front of me was buying 30+ Banquet TV dinners. While fighting the urge to gag, I thought, “Does she just not know how many delicious healthy foods there are?” and, “Am I the one who’s crazy?” The verdict is still out on my sanity. In the meantime, let’s throw a Healthy Cooking Party!

food

Most people I know either don’t know there are yummy healthy choices or don’t know how to cook. Either way, this is the best opportunity to show them. Focus on your closest family and friends. This should be an intimate gathering of 5-6. Don’t forget cocktails. Cocktails are not technically a “super food” but, in moderation, they can make you feel super.

The party’s main focus should be on choosing healthy foods for a feel-good lifestyle and never on weight in pounds. It’s all about bringing people together to do something interactive that makes you feel great too.

I’ve compiled a sample menu of things pretty much anyone can make:

Course 1 – Appetizer

Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups with Herbs & Cheese: Delicious, low-cal, fun, and hands on! Perfect for your guests to help assemble while catching up. These are also great for kids.

zuch

Course 2 – Entree

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti: Practically everyone loves spaghetti so you can’t really go wrong here. Trade in pasta carbs for tasty and nutritious Spaghetti Squash!

spagsquash

 

Course 3 – Dessert

STRAWMBLE! Oh strawmble! My personal favorite dessert is fruit salad. However, you don’t want your people to roll their eyes in disappointment when you don’t provide a “real” dessert. Strawmble is the answer! This is a delicious comfort food type dessert that everyone is sure to love.

strawmble

 

Cooking together creates lasting memories. Healthy habits increase length of life. Combining the two can make for an intimate gathering everyone will love.

Super food photo via fashionspassion.com

Mix & Match Glassware

Some of the most beautiful events are colorful. Color is daring and emotional. It is one of the best ways you can set the mood for your event.

I LOVE the idea of having colored glasses on hand for an impromptu get together or intimate soiree. The fact that the glasses don’t match creates an cheerful, varied look. What I love even more than the idea of purchasing them online is the idea of thrifting many different glasses. The outcome will be more quirky and less expensive too! Keep them in your cabinets for parties or throw them in your hutch as every day decor.

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Another thing I always see at thrift stores is teacups. There are so many gorgeous patterns and many of them are loners. Pick a few up sets. I know what I’m about to say sounds crazy but you can even mix and match a cup and saucer from separate sets! I know, insane. This would be super flirty and fun at a tea party!

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Photo via southernvintagegeorgia.com