Hosting a dinner party - it’s not rocket surgery, but it sure is darn easy to overcomplicate the whole thing. Nothing is more awkward than a stressed out host, so, remember: chill out, relax, and have a drink. It’s just a party.
Pasta is perfect for a group - start a sauce (like an easy garlic-heavy red sauce) in the morning sot it can simmer for a few hours. Simply reheat when ready to serve
Save on cleanup by making sure everyone keeps their silverware for each course by rolling them in napkins (cloth or paper) and labeling them - doubles as place settings.
"Signature" cocktails pack a big punch, even for the smallest of parties. Try one inspired by one of your guests.
Please - PLEASE - leave the bruschetta in tomato season. Instead, opt for an assortment of grilled bread with chickpea paste, walnut paté, anchovy butter or green romesco spread.
Prep a few dips and spreads the day before and throw them out on the table (or anywhere outside of the kitchen) as the first guest arrives
Make your first course mobile - serve soup in coffee mugs so guests can walk around and snack on starters while you finish cooking
one word: bread. There's never too much, but you have bigger things to worry about. Assign a guest to bring and cut a few fresh baguettes for the group.
Serve from the stove - leave the center of the table for some leftover herbs, candles, wine bottles etc.
Serve the salad last and in the same bowl as the first course. It keeps the more exciting courses warm and cleanup to a minimum. Plus veggies at the end help with digestion!
A roast chicken is a great 2nd course - time it so that it rests out of the oven during the first course. Enlist a friend to make a pan gravy while you carve it up - serve right from the cutting board.
Swap dessert for a small cheese board passed around at the end of the meal. Add some sweeter elements like honey, figs, and fresh apricots for the best of all worlds.