Everyone talks about how adulting is hard – and I wholeheartedly agree – but people rarely talk about the perks. Like using any excuse to have your friends over for a fun night of silly and deep conversations, board games, and lots of wine. Like our queen Tay Swift puts it, this is our place, we make the rules. We can leave the Christmas lights up ’til January, we can have parties anytime we want. This summer I hosted so many small, casual dinner parties, it’s now a lifestyle. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or stress yourself out, so here’s a little guide and tips on how to start entertaining friends and family at home.
It sounds challenging and a lot of work to cook and feed a group of people. You have to do groceries, clean your home, think of a menu that everyone will like, entertain, and then clean up. It doesn’t sound relaxing, it sounds like a lot of responsibility. That’s why I’m such a fan of a casual dinner party. It’s just as fun, but not as exhausting.
I believe in creating a fun environment rather than having everything perfect. Guests won’t be offended if you don’t make the food yourself or if you don’t cook a whole meal. So here’s what I do: I make a mix-and match menu. I like keeping things seasonal, so for summer dinners I make a lot of salads, roasted veggies, some protein, like shrimp (because it’s so quick), roasted chicken, or chickpeas. For fall and winter, I like making roasted squash (that you can buy peel and cubed, and just pop in the oven), and quick dishes like couscous.
Regardless of the season, I love having easy appetizers ready to go for when guests start arriving. And I really mean simple, like potato chips, olives, dips, and cornichons. If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of charcuterie boards, so I usually include one. Tips on how to build one here! You can make variations of a charcuterie board, like a snack board where you can include more veggies and fruits. Another great aspect of making a charcuterie board is that you can delegate and get everyone involved. People love to help and it’s a great opportunity to sip on some wine and socialize.
Don’t be afraid to do takeout. For instance, I love falafel, but it’s extra work and there’s a place near me that serves amazing freshly made ones. So I just grab some, place them on a nice serving platter and it’s a great addition to the menu.
Entertaining at Home
Making a bunch of side dishes or providing different ingredients is not only easier but also a great way to save time and money on decoration. I like to keep things simple so I’ll usually have fresh flowers and cute dinnerware. Set up all the bowls and plates on the table and that’s enough to create a beautiful feast. You don’t need matching sets. Just keep things kind of cohesive, colorful, and fun, and you should be good. Remember that a casual dinner party is about relaxing and having fun, so if this sounds too stressful, you can’t go wrong with a pizza and wine night. Have some board games ready to go and that’s all you really need for a successful night. When coming up with a menu, consider all the logistics, from the shopping to the prepping. So prep beforehand as much as you can. It sounds simple, but it’s the key to a stress-free event. Prepping ahead means you’ll still have time to make a fabulous cocktail, an easy but impressive dessert; and more importantly, you’ll be able to get yourself ready before you guests start arriving. Put some music on, pour yourself a glass of wine, and relax. Time to have fun.