Want to get really caught up with your closest friends? Show an out of town guest a really good time? Get to know your new neighbors better? Introduce two single friends?
Have a dinner party! Yes, really! At your own home, where you can control the noise level, splurge on terrific wine, and stay as long as you want! It’s easier than you think to show a small group a wonderful time with a personal touch that can’t be achieved in the finest restaurants. The trick is to keep it as Simple as possible.
Simple guest list: Keep it cozy. Eight to ten is a great number. We always include at least two of our most fabulous and FUN friends to ensure everyone has a great time. We try to have someone new that our friends will enjoy meeting. Mix it up! No need to have all couples, or all people with similar jobs, politics, opinions.
Simple menu: Only three courses: Appetizer snacks, entrée served with salad or vegetables, dessert. If you want more courses than this, you don’t need Give Simple instructions! Don’t feel compelled to make everything from scratch. Buy salad or dessert from a favorite deli or bakery if you want. Present it as if you made it – use beautiful bowls, platters or trays. Ditch the carryout containers, please!
Simple drinks: Pick one thing and stick with it. Wine, or martinis, or margaritas, for example. If you aren’t a wine pro, enlist a knowledgeable friend, or get friendly with an expert at your local wine store. We serve a choice of red or white, each of which will complement the main course. If you’re a connoisseur, and want to pair wines to each course, again, you don’t need Give Simple instructions! If we have invited a guest who is a connoisseur, we’re not too proud to call and ask them to recommend based on the menu. Buy in advance of the evening; don’t have your friend bring the wine that night. We put out plenty of water, and always have a six pack of beer and diet coke stashed in the fridge. You don’t need to have a full bar, unless you have one set up at all times. Stage all the drinks, ice, glasses, etc, in an easy to reach location.
Simple appetizer snacks: Make this super easy – cheese and crackers, olive oil and bread for dipping , marcona almonds or mixed nuts, olives, veggies and dip, cold boiled shrimp – nothing elaborate and pick three of these ideas, no more! Everything should be top quality, but you don’t need a ton of choices. Put this out where you have staged the beverages, with small plates, forks and napkins. For us, this is on our kitchen island. No matter how much you want your guests to be in another room, they will want to be in the kitchen with you. Relax, it’s a compliment!
Simple entrée: Pick one of your best, something that can be made a little in advance and kept warm until ready to serve. In the summer, I like salmon burgers. In the winter I like my famous pasta with spicy sausage and tomato cream sauce. These are delicious recipes that I have made many times and they are embarrassingly easy. Osso Bucco is another really easy option – seems harder than it is. Everyone loves a family recipe you have inherited, too.
Simple Serving: For the main course, ask guests to fill their own plates, buffet style. Silverware on the table, or at end of the buffet, not the beginning!
Killer dessert: This is where we recommend going a little crazy. Buy it or make it yourself – but it should be drop dead delicious. If you buy a cake, pie or cookies, add some fresh berries. You can also drizzle plates with chocolate syrup in a matter of seconds. Smuckers makes a topping in a squeeze bottle just for this purpose, look for it near the ice cream at your grocery store. We prefer to serve dessert to each guest on individual plates with pretty presentation. Enlist help from one other person if you like. See the Easy Molten Chocolate Cakes recipe if you really want to impress your guests. A different option (all time summer guest favorite) is Make Your Own Ice Cream Sundae, with bananas, cherries, whipped cream, nuts, and three sauces.