Menu mastery: planning the perfect dinner party
The key to planning the perfect dinner party is mastering the menu. From determining the food and beverages, to selecting the dishes and the glassware, effort expended on the front end of a perfectly executed dinner party serves to showcase the meal.
Here’s the menu from a recent celebration. It was absolute perfection, beautiful plated and as delicious as it looks. The recipes are classics, so you can find them online with a simple search.
Perfect Birthday Dinner
Caviar with Creme Fraiche and Mini-Melba Toasts
Vodka Served in Ice Cold Sterling Silver
Mixed Greens with Kalamata Olives and Light Vinaigrette
Rare Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Broiled Tomato
Mini Pavlova with Mixed Berries and Chantilly Cream
Planning is more than 50% of the proposition, whether you are serving 4 or 40. Pull off a birthday dinner or a holiday celebration with these tips.
Put these ten seriously useful tips for staging the perfect dinner party to use on your next event:
- Serve dishes that you have made before. A dinner party isn’t the time for the stress or uncertainty of trying something new. That goes for scaling up, or reducing, a recipe that you have made before. When changing the number of portions, things can go awry pretty easily.
- Layout your table settings, glassware, silverware, and serving pieces the day before. Polish anything that isn’t perfect, and makes sure that the combination of sizes and patterns is pleasing. One smart hostess we know actually puts a post-it note on all of the serveware so that she knows what is going where and doesn’t have to dig for a bowl or salad tongs at the last minute. If you have special wine glasses, antique dessert plates, or other items that add whimsy and personality to your table, go for it.
- Plan your menu with a strategy that limits complicated items to one, last minute items to one or two, and that mixes colors and textures in a palate and eye-pleasing way.
- Think about splurging on some items and saving on others. This is the best way to use your budget to create an interesting menu.
- Don’t over-estimate how much people are going to eat. Many elegant, smaller courses are fun, satisfying, and easier to prepare and serve than you think.
- Do as much prep work as far ahead as you can. That includes measuring seasonings, chopping vegetables, and making salad dressing or marinades. Set your ingredients out, grouped by recipe, so that you don’t have to dig through any cupboards. Put them away as you use them.
- Clean your kitchen before your guests arrive. That includes running the dishwasher and emptying it, replacing paper towel, and switching to clean tea towels.
- Light – unscented! – candles. Use cloth napkins. Add some bling.
- Relax and get ready to enjoy the evening! Your attitude will create the ambiance for your perfect dinner party.
- Don’t forget coffee and after dinner drinks. Bring out the dessert. Sit down and enjoy with your guests.