While the weekend tends to get all of the airtime for friendly dinner dates, we love the idea of hosting a small dinner party during the week. It may seem impossible with the demands of the day, but it’s not only doable, it’s a great way to connect with friends and break up the week. The key is to keep it simple.
1 | Invite a small and interesting group.
Think of four to six friends who may or may not know one another and call them and invite them to dinner at least four days in advance. If calling seems too old school, send a pretty paperless post.
2 | Be on time.
Yes, we are talking to all of you hosts. If you ask guests to arrive at 7:30, you should have everything laid out and have the main dish in the oven or on the stove by then.
3 | Set the tone.
Guests should walk into a warm ambiance with candles lit, soft music playing and they should be made comfortable the moment they walk into the door. Greet them properly, take their coats and bags and have beverages readily available. Note: Be sure to have several options such as sparkling water, juices, red and white wine and beer.
4 | There’s no need for an extensive menu.
Put out a cheese plate and focus on serving a show-stopping main dish such as roasted chicken, a delicious risotto or an incredible slow-roasted short rib. Make a salad and pick up a dessert from a specialty bakery and you’re good to go. Consider the number of guests you have when making the meal. It’s great to have a little extra, but making too much is just that...too much.
5 | Make the most out of what you have.
When it comes to a casual dinner party, there is beauty in simplicity. Fresh flowers are lovely, but going overboard with decorating is unnecessary. Use your best dinner plates and serving trays and proper napkins to make it special without feeling forced.
6 | Time the evening.
If offering pre-dinner cocktails, dinner should be served in an hour or less after the start time stated on the invitation. If there are no cocktails, serve the meal within 20 minutes. Stop serving alcohol 30 minutes before you want to start saying goodnight.