Canadians love a good dinner party. How do we know? Because one of our favorite Food Network Canada shows is Dinner Party Wars, where couples compete against other couples to come up with the best and baddest dinner bash.
But maybe you’re not a reality TV fan, in which case you may need a little help when it comes to creating the perfect menu for a dinner party. Here’s what you need to know to pull off a delicious dinner party menu that everyone will be raving about.
Choose a Theme
Although it isn’t necessary to have a theme for your dinner party, it can help you fine-tune your menu and inspire decorations that match. You may want to serve Mexican dishes and margaritas in honor of Cinco de Mayo, host a sushi making party, or even pay homage to a favorite TV series with a menu that plays upon it.
Decide Between a Buffet and Sit Down Dinner
Will you be serving everyone yourself at a large table, or do you prefer your guests help themselves at serving areas? There’s no right or wrong way—the choice is up to you depending upon how much extra work you want to do.
Check if Your Guests Have Dietary Restrictions
The last thing any dinner party host wants to see is something having an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the food. Better to be safe than sorry and ask your guests if any of them have a food allergy or any dietary restrictions. This way you’ll be sure to serve dishes that you can feel confident knowing everyone can safely eat and enjoy.
Include All or Most Meal Courses
Think of serving your menu as courses, starting with appetizers and working your way towards dessert. With that in mind, here are some of the types of food you’ll want to include at your soiree:
You can have a lot of fun by presenting some creative appetizers, or you can keep it simple by offering cheese, fruit, and crackers. However, it’s good hospitality to offer your guests something to satisfy their appetite a bit before the main course.
You may want to make one warm appetizer and one cold one to appeal to everyone’s tastes. Some good ideas include fruit kabobs, chicken skewers with dipping sauces, cucumber cups filled with hummus, grilled shrimp, and crunchy vegetables with dip. Whatever you choose to make, it should be easy for guests to eat and walk around with.
2. Main Course and Side Dishes
Your main course will be the star of the night, but it’s also a good idea to pick something that is easy enough to prepare. Ideally, everything should be done and your counters clean by the time guests start arriving. You don’t want to be stuck still slaving away in the kitchen while everyone else is mingling.
Easy main course ideas include lasagna, roast pork loin, braised chicken, and slow cooker stew. If you’re preparing a meat-based dish, it’s important to know the right amount of meat to serve per person so everyone feels satisfied.
You should also prepare two side dishes that compliment the main entree. Salad can take the place of one of the sides.
Don’t forget to offer some warm, crusty bread or rolls to compliment the main dish.
While not everyone may want something sweet after all of your fabulous food, some of your guests are sure to take you up on the offer. You may want to make sorbet or ice cream available in addition to your chosen dessert for those that prefer a palate cleanser on the lighter side.
Don’t Forget Refreshments
No dinner party is complete without drinks. Although some of your guests may bring a bottle of wine to share, you should have a selection of red and white wines to enjoy along with beer. Consider making a batch of sangria, alcohol-based punch, or a favorite cocktail recipe that pairs well with the appetizers.
Don’t leave out the teetotalers. Soda, seltzer water, and other non-alcoholic beverages will be much appreciated, as will plenty of water. For a refreshing twist, set out pitchers of ice water flavored with citrus fruit slices and mint that guests can help themselves to.
Give the Menu Balance
Your menu should have a nice balance of flavors without much duplication from start to finish. For example, if you’re going to serve chicken in an appetizer, then you may want to avoid preparing it as the main dish. The same goes for vegetables and other key ingredients to prevent flavor burnout.
You want your guests to enjoy a variety of foods that also go together well. Take into consideration the sweetness or saltiness of menu items so that you don’t offer additional foods with the same flavor profile.
You Don’t Have to Make Everything
Remember that you don’t have to make every food item you’re planning on serving at the party. Having a portion of the menu catered can save you time and a little sanity. The best part is no one has to know.
In fact, you can choose to have the entire affair catered and ask the catering company to create a custom menu for you if you wish.
Planning the Perfect Menu is Easier Than You Think
As you can see, creating the perfect menu for a dinner party is easier than you think. It just requires a little thought and planning ahead. By following the above tips, we’re sure your guests are going to love everything you serve at your shindig.
Here at View the Vibe, we love helping our readers live life to the fullest in the Toronto area. Browse our online magazine for some more healthy lifestyle tips!