By Ellen Wilson
It's summer and everyone's schedule has relaxed a
little. Now that you have some free evenings, it's time to invite over
those friends you haven't seen all semester. Here are some helpful hints
on how to prepare for, set-up, and execute a dinner party.
through coupons for foods that are on sale. Try to base your dishes on
what you can buy inexpensively. Buy your groceries two days ahead and
then check the day before to confirm you have everything you need. Plan
the order of cooking dishes so you don't get halfway through the
casserole and realize that the cake can't go in the oven at that
sure to run the dishwasher the morning of, unless you want to be doing
dishes quickly beforehand. If you don't have matching plates-who cares?
Set up an odd of assortment of flowered dishes with the big yellow
one-match glasses with plates or do napkins/nametags that match. If the
emphasis of your party planning is easy clean up, get some paper plates
and either decorate the edges with markers or have markers on hand for
your guests to create their own artwork.
the theme of your party into your centerpiece. If there is no theme,
keep it simple and inexpensive with flowers, photos, or candles. If
you'd like to do a centerpiece that can double as your guests' dessert
or take-home gift, arrange a group of large suckers or other types of
candy. You can also use the centerpiece as a drink bucket, with a
colorful assortment of sodas.
yourself some buffer time when preparing your meal. Don't start so
early that you'll be struggling to keep your food warm but you want to
be done before your guests start to arrive. Since it's summer, it's a
good idea to do some cool dishes that don't require a lot of cooking. If
you are using the stove and oven, be sure to open windows so that your
dining area is cool and not sweltering. When planning, plan a dessert
you can make ahead of time (tarts, cakes, cookies) or one that doesn't
take any cooking (sundaes, pudding). Be sure to have smaller plates and
extra forks or spoons set aside for dessert.
Try to clean as you go but if you can't, don't let
your dishes sit around after your last guest leaves. Rinse and put
dishes into the dishwasher, or crank up some music and just get down to
cleaning. The faster you get it done, the faster you can relax and
relish the success of your party!