Dinner Party for 8 – Part 1

I’ve never been a big fan of Valentines day,  so in an effort to redirect attention from the obligatory one on one valentine restaurant date,  I will throw a dinner party for some close friends this weekend.  I’ll walk you through my preparations over the next few days and how things turn out on Saturday!

Starting out – decide the theme

You don’t always have to have a strict theme to a dinner party, but in order for me to stay on topic (my mind quickly wanders), I need to narrow my focus so that the end result is cohesive experience for my guest.  I want the feeling of the party to be romantic and serene, but casual as well, so I decided on a rustic french country theme.

*not that mine will look like this, but a girl can dream… (photo from my french country home)

Supporting the theme – drinks, menu, accessories

Menu – I think it goes without saying, but this isn’t the time to experiment.  Make something that you’re comfortable preparing – the ease at which the meal progresses will be clear to your guests.  If you really want to make something new, make it earlier in the week for dinner so you will get practice and see if you even like it enough to serve to others!

Also, I like to choose a variety of dishes based on how they are cooked and served.  I wouldn’t want to pick 5 things that all have to be baked, all for 30 minutes, because I don’t have 5 ovens… and I don’t think you do either.  Choose a mixture of things that are served hot and cold and things that are prepared ahead of time.

On my menu:

Pomegranate Champagne – to be prepared on the spot.

Stella Artois (Belgian not french, but hey…)

Assorted cheeses (Jarlsberg, Gouda, Roquefort w/ honey), olives, sliced bread – all room temp items which do not need preparation.

Simple Salad with cabbage, fennel, baby greens, and croutons dressed with olive oil – to be prepared ahead of time.

Cornish Hens with garlic and lemon – oven roasted meats can be made before guests arrive, then covered and kept in a warm oven until serving.

Braised white beans with cherry tomatoes – can be cooked along with the cornish hens

Individual chocolate souffles – to be prepared ahead of time and popped in the oven mid-way through dinner.

Accessories to further drive the theme:

I’ll make a table runner of burlap

Napkins will be flour sack type dish towels tied with cooking twine

*Tekla dish towel $0.49 from Ikea

Since I think any ‘rustic’ themed dinner should revolve around the food, the food will be my primary centerpiece, set at various elevations by using upside down crates – you can purchase some from esty.

As another small touch, I plan on making tealight place card holders out of artichokes!

*from glam nest

Final Touch:  Music

I usually find something I like on the cable music channels.  This ensures that I won’t spend my evening worrying about changing the CD or listening to the same playlist over and over.  And here is one area where I’ll break free from my theme.  I only play jazz at dinner parties.  Some may think that is cliche and unoriginal, but in my mind it is classic.  It can go on all night, not get repetitive.  Jazz is perfect for a dinner party because it is mellow enough to be talked over, but beautiful enough to be center stage if there is a break in coversation- not like there will be!

How do you feel about the preparations so far?  Have you ever hosted a dinner party?  How did it go?

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