If you want to expand a little on the shared dinner party idea, why not consider inviting guests to bring either a plate of food to share or even a whole course.
We recently held a dinner party for eight people using this idea. Rather than feel pressured by worrying about a three course meal for eight (plus the some hors devours on arrival) we decided to share the load. I was feeling a little tired and time poor. When I discussed the idea with my friends they were more than happy with this idea.
The aim of this particular dinner party was to catch up with old friends, so my friends readily agreed that rather than have someone slaving away in the kitchen for hours, we would share the cooking experience and still have an amazing feast.
It was a lot of fun - I cooked the main meal and I was really able to focus on making the atmosphere and table setting look inviting and comfortable. Although I pride myself on keeping a cool head no matter how many guests I'm cooking for, it does take a heck of a lot of preparation - so I actually felt more relaxed than ever.
My friends arrived at the same time - they handed me their pre-prepared courses and a bottle of wine they had brought to match their course - they were seated.
We were all a little excited about this different experience. One couple brought an amazing dish of dips and cheeses, figs and quince paste. We sat chatting with some wine and enjoyed the wonderful light choices they offered to get us prepared for our starter.
We proceeded to the starter - a lovely beetroot and goat's cheese salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and seeded mustard.
For main, I had made a pasta dish - hand made large ravioli pieces filled with a pureed pumpkin and sweet potato mixture topped with a Napolitana sauce, lots of fresh grated Parmesan and rocket dressed with balsamic.
My friend who brought dessert bought a ready made Greek creme caramel oozing with the caramel sauce. We served tea and coffee and dessert wine for people who wanted some.
Easy - a fantastic meal with fantastic company and while we enjoyed the wonderful flavors tremendously, we really were able to focus intently on one-another. We talked about what we'd been up to, caught up on news of mutual acquaintances and so forth.
We all left feeling warm and fuzzy and we talked about the success of the dinner party afterwards several times so it must have been enjoyed by all. And we could all take the credit because we worked like a team - it was all really smooth and easy-going.
Stay tuned for some more dinner party ideas soon.
In the meantime, why not consider giving your guests a small parting gift as they leave to remember your night together. It doesn't have to be expensive - just thoughtful - I found this magnet for instance with a little humor attached..
The Hostess with the Mostess