5 Last Minute Dinner Party Shortcuts
Hosting the ultimate dinner party can be a stressful task. Whether it’s putting on something special for family or for friends; there’s a lot of prep work that goes into it, time, patience and a few glasses of wine to get the process rolling smoothly of course. And whilst there’s no such thing as “perfect”, there is certainly a level of perfectionism that comes with planning an upcoming event.
If you’re putting on a dinner party in summer, entertaining is generally easier – especially if you have a BBQ. Throw on a few bits of meat, make a killer salad and keep wine and beer chilled. Simple. But the cooler months means everyone congregates inside and the dinner expectations go from a steak and salad to something a little more nourishing, cosier and exciting. Here’s a few dinner party shortcuts to give your guests the whole caboodle, without too much effort.
1. Use Mismatched Place Settings
Who says dinner plates and settings have to match? If you don’t have enough identical pieces for all your guests – don’t work yourself into a panic or hit the shops in a chaotic mess. From events as big as weddings and birthdays to your Saturday night dinner party, it’s actually becoming quite trendy to decorate your table with deliberately mismatched place settings.
If you feel you must break the bad news to your guests and apologise for the fact you didn’t have enough matching pieces, by all means do so. But in reality, it’s not that you didn’t have enough for your guests or were unprepared – you actively chose to mix things up with cool patterns and colours because hey, you’re trendy! It’s a great time saver, decreases the stress levels and makes for a little fun and creativity.
2. Use Orange Halves as Bowls
The absolute worst part of a great dinner party is the mess to clean up when everyone leaves. Sure, there’s always that one great friend who helps you out over another bottle of wine at the end of the night – but it’s still a job no one really likes.
We all know the trick of using paper plates and cutlery to avoid dishes, but not everyone wants to do this for every occasion and that’s ok, there’s backup plans!
Whilst you will still need to do some of the dishes at the end of the night, using orange halves as small finger-food bowls can be the perfect shortcut. They look great; even acting as a dinner table feature, and at the end of the night it’s as simple as tossing the orange halves in the bin. Use them for fruit snacks (berries and grapes work great), nuts or other small nibbles.
Do the same with capsicum halves for dips – scoop out the seeds and insides and fill with your guests’ favourite dips on a cheese board with crackers. Simple, but effective.
3. Craft a Pre-Made Sauce
There’s definitely something fancy about whipping up your own special homemade sauce. But it can also be a massive hassle. Save time and sanity by utilising a jar of store brought sauce and adding a few ingredients yourself. If you’re dishing up a snazzy pasta dish, wow guests by frying up some onion, garlic cloves, oil, red wine and herbs. Add in the store brought sauce and mix everything together. Your guests will never know the difference!
4. Create Bake-Free Desserts
Besides the wine, one of the best parts of a dinner party is the tasty goodies on offer at the end of the meal. But you don’t want to be slaving over oven-made desserts that take ages when there’s socialising to be done! Opt for a pre-made cake with homemade whipped cream (your guests will taste the difference and you can prepare most of it beforehand) or make a few gourmet food purchases you can add your own spin to and serve up.
If you’ve already impressed your guests with a homemade meal, there’s no harm in purchasing some treats and arranging a platter board of cheeses, chocolates, nougat and anything else that’ll wow your guests. Top it off with a bottle of dessert wine, fresh fruit and crème. Bliss.
5. Utilise Frozen Grapes and Berries to Chill Drinks
There’s a few main ‘rules’ when it comes to dinner party entertaining; don’t run out of wine or beer, don’t run out of food and don’t run out of ice. You can never – and I mean never – have enough of these things! For something different, freeze fruits like grapes and berries to use as extra ice blocks. Doing this in advance for the big night will ensure you don’t run out and the chilled flavours will enhance the drinking experience for guests (and you can’t say no to that!).
So there’s just a few tips to get you started on dinner planning prep without the stress. Here at Just In Time Gourmet we also have a few things to help you out like our Ploughman’s Platter hamper or our All You Need is Cheese gift basket. Don’t worry, if you take a few shortcuts – your secret is safe with us!