Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sense-ational dinner party idea

As Featured On Ezine Articles

There’s nothing like a fantastic dinner party – and to make your dinner party REALLY stand out and become a wonderful and memorable experience I suggest catering to all the senses – sight, smell, touch, hearing and most importantly taste!

My partner and I had one of our best culinary experiences in a restaurant called The Dark Side - there was not a ounce of light in the dining room.

Initially, we were ushered into a bar where we got to see the menu and we picked our meals. Then the waiter came wearing night vision glasses to escort us to our table.. it was pitch black..

At first I could feel my anxiety levels rising but then I relaxed into the experience. My senses were on high alert. I listened to the chatter of nearby diners.

I smelt the food as it was being delivered.. the aromas filled our senses. I smelt spices and could identify certain subtle smells that I would never have before even noticed..

Then you had to try to get the food onto your fork. This alone proved more fun than frustrating.

The food was delicious - I enjoyed it immensely - the textures and the flavors were amazing. The experience brought home the fact that I had usually taken this experience for granted - even though I may have enjoyed a flavor it was never to this extreme. t So, my suggestion to you is to make sure your next dinner parties focus on the senses - make it extreme. Have a good think about how you can make an impression on each. For instance -

Sight – how can you decorate your dining area – whether inside or outside? What colors will you use? What color tablecloth, napkins, flowers, candles, center pieces? Will you hang flowers from a tree by your outdoor setting? Can you place a spotlight onto the tree using a colored bulb? You have so many options to consider. What sort of lighting will people experience at your table?

Smell – what aromas will be filling the air as your guests arrive? The smell of your dinner if you’re cooking no doubt – garlic maybe? Or the smell of a scented candle?

What pleasure to the ear can you bring to your guests? Imagine walking into a house where someone has hired a harpist or a string quartet. I have personally experienced this for a special occasion dinner and it has left it’s mark on my memory permanently. But it needn’t cost you anything – you can play a CD or two. Have a good think about some CDs you might play and in what order.. I’d suggest putting some thought into this. Make sure the music is great as background and that the levels are just right. You don’t want people to have to shout in order to be heard.

What about touch? Can you kiss your guests or shake their hands warmly as they arrive? Can the meal involve people using their hands somehow in the preparation or can you provide ingredients so that they can roll a course – like a Vietnamese hand roll? Or fill their own taco? Can they be dipping strawberries into melted chocolate when it come dessert time? Think about the texture of foods as they hit the tongue.

And last but certainly not least there’s taste. What flavors will you serve? Don’t forget to check what sort of foods your guests don’t or can’t eat. In fact, I always like to ask my guests what they like eating.. When I was asked this question by someone on an invitation to their dinner party it made me feel pretty special.

As I write this article it makes me realize just how sensual an experience food can be. Sure, you can prepare an incredibly romantic dinner party around the senses but it’s important to consider satisfying the senses of any guest you have to dinner – that is, if you want to host the perfect dinner party!

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, you might want to take a look at this coffee - it's decaffeinated so great for those who want a coffee at the end of the meal but don't want to stay awake all night:

The Hostess with the Mostess

Friday, September 28, 2007

Great dinner party idea food and presentation

This video takes just two minutes to watch but it has given me some great ideas for my next dinner party.

You don't get the recipes but what I am taking away is the idea itself and I always like to watch the way in which a dish is presented by a professional.

Some of these could take you next to no time to prepare and yet they can look sensational and impress your friends at your next dinner party.

For instance, the cubes of vanilla cheesecake garnished with summer fruits. Me - I'd cheat and buy the cheese cake and slice it into shape - then serve a long row and place a different type of berry atop each one - simple. The melon and sorbet looks great too. Again, you needn't make the sorbet yourself.

This video was too good and quick not to share because I am always after ideas to make an impression at my next dinner party.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, you may want to check out this book: Long awaited by professional chefs, this groundbreaking guide to food presentation will also delight and inspire culinary students and sophisticated home cooks. Acclaimed food writer and culinary producer Christopher Styler describes seven distinctive plating styles, from Minimalist to Naturalist to Dramatic, with several striking examples of every genre. Each plating suggestion is accompanied by clear instructions along with color photos of step-by-step techniques and finished plates. Complete with essays on plating from ten leading chefs and recipes for the dishes featured, this book is a work of art in itself--a must for the kitchen shelf.

The Hostess with the Mostss

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Team dinner party idea

This dinner party idea is all about team work and fun – The suggestion is that you allocate your guests into small teams to create a course each.

Picture this – you invite five guests to dinner and you select the entrée, main and dessert dish you’d like for the meal. You pick simple recipes and you buy the ingredients for each.

When your guests arrive and after some mingling and welcome drinks, the couple preparing entrée go into the kitchen and start preparing this – everything is there for them – the recipe, the ingredients and all the utensils they need. You sit and enjoy the entrée together.

Then after this, the next couple prepare the main course and this is served to the guests who have been relaxing and chatting at the dinner table.

With this sort of dinner party there is no rush and the people you invite should be comfortable with the idea – like let them know the idea when you invite them. The idea is not meant to cause guests any stress – rather enjoyment and satisfaction knowing that all the guests created the meal together – as a team.

Once everyone’s enjoyed the main meal then the couple preparing dessert go and do their thing. I’d make each course very simple to prepare and not dishes that are time consuming.

This dinner party idea allows you to all participate in the making of the meal and the person hosting the dinner can relax a little more and enjoy the whole experience.

This is just one of many dinner party ideas you can find here. Stay tuned for more.

In the meantime, here's an example of an easy recipe book you could use to source the recipes for the team dinner. You only need up to four ingredients!

The Hostess with the Mostess

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dinner party group

If you enjoy a great dinner party then chances are some of your friends like them as much as you do so consider this group dinner party idea. I really believe like attracts like.

So, why not form yourselves in to a dinner party pack and organize regular dinner parties together - this could mean monthly, quarterly or whatever frequency you agree upon as a group.

Run the idea past the friends you think may be interested and decide who goes first. You could even throw the first dinner party with the intent to make your decisions about future parties.

Will each party be a straight three, four or five course meal? or will each of you decide on a theme for your party? You could have a lot of fun here.

It doesn't hurt to set the dates well in advance so you don't double book and you'll know exactly when it's your turn as you will need to have decided on the order of whose turn it is on each occasion.

This dinner party idea really is fabulous in that you enjoy great dinner parties regularly but you might only need to throw one yourself every few months if that.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, now is the time to sign up for your Bon Appetit magazine subscription. This is a great way to get inspiration for your menu.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Monday, September 24, 2007

Watch as dinner party appitizer prepared

I have watched dozens and dozens of youtube videos related to dinner party ideas and occasionally I do include something here. Check out this video on an easy appetizer:

More dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, check out the Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook:

The Hostess with the Mostess

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hire a chef dinner party idea

This dinner party idea is for a special occasion.

For instance, I went to a 30th dinner party a few years ago and my friend had hired a caterer - she and her partner could relax with the guests while the chef was in the kitchen cooking up a storm.

The chef had bought a kitchen hand and waiting staff and so they served hors de vours as we stood mingling and chatting. It was all very extravagant and beautifully presented. They made sure we were seated at the right time and then served each of the courses.

My friend had apparently done some research on the net and found these caterers who come to your house to cook the dinner for you. She liked the sound of this particular group so they organized a meeting to discuss all the arrangements and then we got our invitations in the post and RSVPd.

It really did make an impression on all of us guests.. it was a truly classy affair and a great way to celebrate a fantastic meal in the privacy of a home rather than in a busy restaurant.

We could truly focus our attentions on the birthday girl and everything was being organized around us.

Anyway, this is another dinner party idea for you to consider.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, consider presenting your guests with a small gift as they leave - as a keepsake of the occassion. An example is this lovely candle. The French Vanilla Cuppachino fragrance together with their own coffee scent creates a warm inviting candle that coffee lovers everywhere will enjoy.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Friday, September 21, 2007

A portable dinner party idea

I just love this video of a dinner party idea that was quick to set up, different and so creative.. the dinner party was held in a traveling train.. You'll see the guy carrying only two light cases - one a portable table and the other containing all the equipment and food needed. Easy!

OK, this might not be for you but all this shows is how quickly and easily you can take a dinner party anywhere.

One of the most romantic dinners I've ever had was a lovely meal by the water's edge - on our own at the beach. We took everything with us - a small table with a lovely white tablecloth, candles, plates, cutlery and of course glasses. You could hear the gentle sound of the waves crashing against the shore and we picked just the right spot. In many cases there are picn ic spots and tables there ready for you to use..

It was a warm night so the food was of the cold variety. When each course was finished, it was packed into the picnic basket and taken home to be washed. We could have used disposable plates and glasses but it wouldn't have been the same for us. After packing up, you'd never have even known what we'd just experienced there..

A dinner party can be very portable and with some thought you can really make your next dinner party unique.

Think of a location where you feel safe and you're not breaking any laws. It could be a picturesque location or it could be have an industrial feel - it really could be anywhere. It could even be on a train!

And why not to take a portable skillet along and cook on the spot. This portable non-stick skillet is perfect for cooking large breakfasts, lunches or dinners. The InstaStart push-button ignition makes for easy matchless lighting while the Perfect Flow pressure-control system allows for consistent cooking performance.

I love sharing my dinner party ideas with you.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Italian dinner party idea

This is an easy but very popular dinner party idea. You have so many choices in terms of what you can serve – and pasta is the first thing that comes to my mind. But of course there is so much more when it comes to choice. I’ve included a link to a website you may find useful when it comes to preparing you menus. This of course is one of many..

Yes, you can do a simple Italian dish and leave it at that or you can make your dinner party memorable and this is where my personal interest lays. Think about the extra little touches you can make to make it really feel like an Italian theme.

Think about the best Italian restaurants you’ve been to – what was their décor like? Do you want red and white chequered table cloths with chianti bottles placed on the table? You may want yours to be a little more sophisticated but you can still consider what sort of background music you’d like playing.

In fact, consider all of your senses – the more that your guests experience in relation to their senses – the more of an impact you’ll make. Like the smell of garlic wafting through the air as your guests arrive as they hear some lovely Italian music –some of Italy’s best singers have included Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Mina, Claudio Villa, Adriano Celentano, Gianni Morandi, Ornella Vanoni, Lucio Battisti, Patty Pravo, Zucchero, Eros Ramazzotti, Laura Pausini, Lucio Dalla, Renato Zero, Francesco De Gregori and Vasco Rossi. You have a lot to choose from..

We’ve covered the smell and hearing senses – the way you decorate your house and dinner table will make their impression upon the sense of sight and of course taste is the one that can give great pleasure on evening like this. Touch is probably the most challenging at most dinner parties but think about textures or a way in which your guests could touch something hot or cold. Maybe one of the courses will involve them making something for themselves or maybeyou could welcome each guest with a kiss or a shake of hand? The possibilities are endless..

If you'l like you guests to enjoy a range of wonderful Italian cheeses, try this sampler pack:

In fact,check out my store and you'll find a raneg of wonderful Italian foods and supplies to purchase for your special dinner.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dinner party idea - why have the party at home?

When people are trying to come up with unique dinner party ideas, the idea usually revolves around a meal at your own house - either indoors or in the garden. The question to consider is this - can a dinner party you organize be held at another venue altogether? Is it still a dinner party - a party of friends enjoying a meal together? I intend to give a few examples today and in future posts.

I know a Greek man who loves ancient history and he wanted to invite his friends and acquaintances to learn about the great Greek philosophers that he so admired.

What he did was this.. he found a small local Greek restaurant and asked whether he could organize a theme night. His house wasn't big enough for what he had in mind and this guy had a lot of friends..

He negotiated a night at the restaurant where invited guests would come and be served a traditional three course Greek meal at an affordable price and people could bring their own wine with no corkage price on top.

He spoke to a lecturer friend who agreed to come and speak about Aristotle - and so the first of many similar nights was set.

If you don't have a friend that can speak, you may have to pay someone - so if the meal at the restaurant costs $40 then you would add on a couple of dollars per person to pay the guest speaker's fee.

If your interest revolves around say a charity you wish to support then they often have ambassadors that will come to talk to groups for free - I do this myself for the M.S. Society.

He'd already run the idea past his friends and they were all very keen and willing to come along because this was something so unusual it was inviting.

His goal was to get say 30 people to the restaurant - 15 couples and the restaurant would be full.

And he actually got them to pre-pay their money because he didn't want to have promised the restaurant 30 people when only 20 people actually showed on the night.. so however many turned up on the night - the costs would be covered.

But everyone did show and the night was a smash - people enjoyed various dips at their tables and chatted and had fun. The starter arrived and then by the time it came to serve the main meal the guest speaker started his talk about the great philosopher.

People ate as they listened with interest and actually learnt some really interesting stuff. The waiting staff cleared the meals and then served some light dessert. It was all taken care of and the host and his guests could just sit back and enjoy the experience. And the best part was he didn't have to worry about washing up.

Everyone left on a high and really enjoyed the night. The host could go home to his clean house and he knew that his efforts to organize this dinner party with a difference really paid off!

Oh yes, and if you do take money off people, it's a good idea to give them a receipt so there is a record for you and your guests can bring their receipt as proof of payment. Here's an example of an inexpensive receipt book you can buy easily:

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon!

The Hostess with the Mostess

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dinner party idea - avoid 1940s stress!

You may wonder what I am talking about but in my search for dinner party ideas I found this video on youtube about dinner etiquette from the 1940s.

Wow.. it is a long video and the sound can be poor but I managed to watch the whole thing as I personally find this fascinating..

Etiquette is important - even if it is just in the way that we place our cutlery, glasses, etc. We have relaxed over the years but the more formal the dinner party the more we stick to the old-fashioned ways.

Of course I will be visiting the topic of dinner party etiquette down the track - but here is the way it used to be half a century ago .. it's great to be aware of the rules even though you may choose to ignore aspects of them.

Here it is..

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon..

In fact if you enoyed watching this video, you may like to see a little more on this DVD. These films are for anyone who loves the great old funny table etiquette, table manners and good manners film that permeated American educational culture following WWII.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A white themed dinner party idea

Have you ever considered a white theme as your dinner party idea? Yes, we can just host the usual regular dinner party or we can try to make ours stand out in some way - and a theme often helps with this.

When you think back of dinner parties you have attended during your life.. which are the ones that stand out in your memory? Either the food has been sensational or something about the party was different.. like it had a theme.

By white dinner party you could try to focus on the colour white and asks guests to wear white clothing.

Serve your dinner on a white table cloth, cloth serviettes with white plates and white candles.. set some candles amidst white pebbles even? Or, have a lovely vase of white flowers as your table center piece.

Then all you need to do is think of white foods and this is where it is easy – for entrée a pasta Carbonara or an entrée using white goats cheese and thinly sliced figs lightly grilled (so they are warm) and served with rocket salad and a balsamic dressing. Maybe.. chicken or fish (both white meats) for main with rice or potato salad and for dessert a white chocolate mud cake or a white chocolate mousse.. and of course white wine. You needn’t worry about a little colour on the side – like a lovely colourful fresh salad to serve with your meal.

I’d suggest a white theme when the weather’s a bit warmer as opposed to a cold evening.. and of course loose white clothing goes well with an outdoor dinner party.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas coming soon.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A psychic dinner party idea

Here's another dinner party idea for you to consider - well, a theme really.

A few years ago some zany girlfriends and I decided that since we all wanted to get a tarot reading, the psychic might come to us rather than us go to them.

We did our research and found a reputable psychic and we discussed our idea with them - and the psychic agreed. If you do something similar make sure that they only give uplifting news which is what they're meant to give - no negatives thanks.. you don't want people leaving feeling uneasy in any way so make this clear with the psychic from the start!

One Saturday we all gathered at my house in the early afternoon. I'd set up a private bedroom with a chair for both the psychic and the friend that was getting the reading.

So, the times had been set and we all knew which hour we had scheduled for our reading. Also, we had the cash to pay the guy when we finished so we all paid for our own. We got a good deal since there were four of us!

I'd prepared some snacks to nibble on throughout the afternoon - one very easy but tasty treat was a tuna dip - a large tin of tuna in brine (drained), a large packet of creamed cheese and a diced onion mixed together by hand in a bowl.

Place the heavy mixture onto a serving dish and shape into a log or any other shape that takes your fancy.

The final ingredient is finely diced parsley which you cover the mixture with - so if you're looking at a log shape, it looks green from all the parsely you've embedded onto the top.

I then clean around the log so no parsley appears on the plate - it looks neat. Then, I place crackers around the platter and place a knife nearby so people can place an amount onto their cracker easily without having to dig in. Easy peasy but tasty as anything! And always very popular with guests..

I also had to make sure the psychic was comfortable - I made sure he knew where the toilet was and left a jug of water by his side and some cookies. In between readings, I checked to see if he wanted tea or coffee.

We went in one by one and had our readings - it was a lot of fun and then after four hours we were done. Of course as one by one came out we giggled and had fun but we agreed to save our discussion for over dinner.

I had my reading early and as dinner time approached my friends and I headed to the kitchen.

I cooked but my friends helped me prepare the ingredients - I cooked a wild mushroom risotto.

Some onion was diced and I'd bought a large selection of various wild mushrooms along with dried porcini mushrooms. It was the perfect dish for the occasion as risotto takes a lot of stirring as you add more stock. As my the last friend reached the end of her reading dinner was almost done. We thanked the psychic and he left - it was a happy experience for all of us.

We served the risotto onto lovely large white plates and dressed the dish with shaved parmesan and baby spinach leaves which were stacked on top. It looked fabulous!

We took our meals to the dining table and cracked open a bottle of wine..

The night was truly sensational - we shared what we'd been told during our readings and really enjoyed one-another's company over some great food and some great wine.

And if you take up this idea, you may want to send your guests home with individually wrapped fortune cookies such as these:

A dinner party doesn't have to be just you and your guests sitting around a table. You can make it different and memorable. As I write these ideas, I remember each and every experience with a sense of happiness and it reminds me of a certain time in my life. It reminds me of when you hear a song and it takes you back to a certain time in your life. And you reminisce..

I'll bring you more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dinner party idea - create a work of art

That's exactly what Judy Chicago did in 1979 and people are just as interested in her installation today as they were 30 years ago..

Judy's work called Dinner Party is now on display at the Brooklyn Museum. If you're interested, watch this quick clip as she discusses her work:

That was off the track a little from my usual dinner party ideas but what the heck..

If you want to find out more you may be interested in Judy's book:

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Book review dinner party idea

If you want a slightly different dinner party idea, consider gathering your book lover friends together for a dinner over which you can discuss and review a book.

You could suggest the book title that you will focus upon and guests can organize to buy the book or borrow it from the library. Allow a reasonable amount of time for the book to be read.

Alternatively, you could invite your guests to come and talk about the best book they have recently read – books that you might be inspired to read if you haven’t already.

If you do decide to all review and discuss the same book, you could include food that may have been mentioned during the book you're reflecting on – these extra little touches can make a difference because friends will notice that you have gone to the trouble.

You could literally take turns around the table to say your piece.

I’d try to pre-prepare most of the meal so that you can focus on your guests if you can but you may be a complete whiz in the kitchen and have everything under control. The focus tonight is more on the book review theme. The food is like a bonus! That's my opinion anyway.

You never know, if this idea works well on the night, you may be able to take turns with your friends and start a book club meeting – over dinner and drinks on a regular basis..

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, ready to get out of winter hibernation and into spring animation? Nos Petit Fromages was designed for occasions like intimate gatherings and small dinner parties. These delectable French cheeses are small and easy to serve.

- Epoisses 8.8 oz
- Crottin Maitre Segun 2.8 oz
- La Roche 7 oz
- Pave de Affinois 5.3 oz

The Hostess with the Mostess

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Easy seafood dinner party idea with a Phillipino twist

Today's dinner party idea is an incredibly easy one - all you'll need are some ready cooked prawns and crab, boiled or steamed rice and a delicious Phillipino dipping sauce adding that exotic touch. What's more is that there's barely any preparation time required so you needn't be distracted in the kitchen when you could be spending more quality time with your guests. You can prepare the seafood and sauce and all you'll need to do is boil or steam some rice 10 or 15 minutes before you're ready to serve your banquet.

This idea of course is wonderful for an al fresco lunch or dinner. And with a lovely chilled bottle of white wine you'll be set. Al fresco just means "outside" and usually in a warm and lovely setting.

I am lucky to have a Phillipino sister-in-law and a Japanese sister-in-law so we really get to enjoy some sensational foods when the family comes together to eat. And that's how I got to taste the deliciousness of this dipping sauce. Yes, you could serve tar tare sauce or any other kind of seafood sauce if you're not game for something different but this dipping sauce adds something unique. Try it yourself first if you're not sure..

If you can get to a fish market - great. Buy a quantity of large prawns and crab - ask the fishmonger to cut the crab (at least in half) for you. Try to avoid prawn that have been frozen because they can be soggy when thawed - freshly cooked are best. All you'll need to do now is present the seafood an an elegant platter.

You can prepare your dipping sauce in advance - it as simple as this :

- one cup of good quality soy sauce
- one cup of white vinegar
- a small grated onion
- and a clove (or two or three) of crushed garlic

Mix all the ingredients together and this is your sauce. You can make as much or as little sauce as you like - just remember it's an equal measure of soy sauce to white vinegar and the onion and garlic can be to your taste. Then just season the sauce with some salt and pepper.

I'd serve this in a bowl with a large serving spoon so people can pour a quantity over their seafood and/or rice.

The seafood and the sauce can be refrigerated with some cling wrap to keep them fresh but I'd suggest eating on the same day as purchase.

When you are ready, all you'll need to do is boil or steam some rice and then present this in a serving bowls with serving spoon.

I imagine you'll have dressed your table nicely and people will already have plates and glasses at their setting - so how easy is that?

One more thing .. since you're serving crab, make sure you have the seafood pliers so your guests can break the hard shell of the crab - particularly the thicker legs which tend to be filled with the sweetest and juiciest meat.

And when serving seafood in this way, prepare one or two bowls of warm water with lemon slices so people can clean their fingers easily and make sure people have serviettes to dry their hands. It's also great to have a large bowl for the prawn and crab shells so people have access to the food on their plates.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon. You may not choose this exact idea but it may spark off another idea for you. But if you do try this or any of the other ideas here, I hope you enjoy yourselves!

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

A formal dinner party idea?

Well, this is one of those obvious dinner party ideas but one I need to mention nonetheless. Formal dinner parties are fabulous but are they common? Not that I can see..

The word “formal” can be off-putting but it can also mean a lot of FUN– especially if you want to enjoy a different experience with close friends and share a fantasy that you’re somewhere like to the Ritz.. Escaping from reality can be a wonderful experience unless of course this is normal for you..

By “formal” I would suggest sending an elegant invitation implying your guests should come dressed in black tie/evening wear. You could use formal language on your invitation (see example below). Traditionally a formal invitation is black ink with centred text on white or ivory paper.

(Your name and your partner’s name if there’s two of you)
request the honour of your presence at a formal dinner party
at half after seven o'clock in the evening
(your address)
RSVP – (date)

I always believe that a successful dinner party is a well planned dinner party, so if you’re planning a formal dinner party plan well ahead.

By asking you dinner guests to come dressed up in their tuxes and gowns, you are setting an expectation that your dinner party will be a stylish event.

It’s always great to set the date well in advance and know what your guests can and can’t eat. Then the world is your oyster.. so to speak. Have a good think about your courses, the drinks you will serve, the way your table will be dressed and the accessories you will need – lovely white plates, crystal glasses, silver cutlery and serving utensils, an elegant better dish.. the list can go on depending how far you want to go.

Will you greet your guests in a separate space or will you usher people straight to your dining room? Will you serve them a cocktail as they arrive? What music will you play? Can you afford to hire say a harp player or cellist to perform as your guests arrive? If not, consider playing lovely classy music in the background if you want music. Think about your lighting – candelabras maybe? Set the scene and set the mood.

You’ll need to dress your table well – it doesn’t matter what shape your table is. What is more important is the way your table looks. A white table cloth is generally used for a formal dinner party but tonight you can make up your own rules if you’ve invited good friends. You could even place a small place card on which you have written each guest’s name. Place at each setting so people know where you want them to be seated. Also, consider a low decorative centre-piece for your table - allowing people to be able to easily see one-another without any intrusion.

Place your silverware in the order that you'll use it, with the knives and forks for the earlier courses resting to the outside of the utensils for the later courses.
The water glass and wine glass/glasses should be placed above the knife.

You know you could always hire someone to serve the meals for you if you can afford it – or event better, to come to your house and do it all for you! I’ll talk about this idea in a future post.

Your guests will want to spend time with you so make sure you are well enough prepared that you are not in the kitchen the whole time.

And what about your outfit? To set it off consider this necklace set - a declaration of grace, a delicate sensuality! This is elegant sleek jewelry is for revitalizing your soul. Its all about feeling energized, confident and sexy. Sparkling Jet and Black Diamond Crystals Dressed in all Flower Pattern Necklace and earrings Set looks absolutely gorgeous with all dresses, evening or casual wear. This is Silver Plated Chain with this Set is made Jet Black Crystals and Black Diamond Crystals, the main beauty is the lot of craft work embossed and dress up with many accessories.. this fashion jewelery is a must have for fashion savvy. Material: Jet Black and Black Diamond Crystals dangling from good quality of silver plated chain Length: 16 inches extended up to 1 1/2 inches Earrings:Dangling Earrings Wire measures 1 1/2 inches long Dangling Drop: 1 inch long Guarantee: 100% Satisfaction for Material & Workmanship used in making this Jewelry
Product Details

And have a fantastic dinner party! Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A front garden dinner party idea

I saw a dinner party idea many years ago and it has left such an impression that I will never forget the way it looked. It wasn’t my own dinner party.. I just happened to be going for a walk one balmy star-lit evening in the streets if inner Sydney and a scene was taking place that caught my eye.

Set in the small front yard of someone’s terrace house was the site of a table dressed with the cripest whitest tablecloth I have seen. Eight or so high-backed chairs surrounded the table and a candelabra was beautifully positioned at each end. The guests were in their gowns and tuxedos and they were milling around having a few cocktails before the dinner was served.

It was a dreamy scene. Of course I don’t know what they ate although I would have loved to have just stood around and watched because it all looked so perfect. But.. I thought it might be rude.

But to this day I still think about that night and what a lovely dinner party idea it was.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, if you want an impressive candelabra - check this out:

The Hostess with the Mostess

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A fund raising dinner party idea

If you want to contribute to a cause you really believe in then why not consider raising funds for a dinner party idea?

If you don’t want to go all out with a three course meal then you can do something simple but make it for a good and worthy cause. Have fun raising funds focusing on food at the same time. It's a great way to show you care.

You can invite guests to attend and pay a set fee - like $5, $10, $20 or more - you know how much your friends can afford. When handing over to the charity, organize receipts for the patrons because it's usually tax deductible. Some people won't care about receipts but it will let them see their money has gone to the charity.

You can send an invitation and on it, consider writing a paragraph or too about the charity you will be helping. It could be anything from raising money for your local school, an animal charity or to help an illness, the environment or anything you feel passionate about.

You could start a chain of dinner parties inviting someone at your party to host the next fund raising dinner party.

You can even consider inviting someone from the charity to say a few words either during the dinner or before.

Look, the even have a Dummy's book for fund raising now:

This is just something to consider on your search for a dinner party idea.

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dinner party ideas – how about a 70s theme?

I am trying to bring you regular dinner party ideas. I guess after yesterday’s fondue dinner party idea you could take it one step further and think about hosting a 70s dinner party. And you know what? You could just serve a fondue dinner and you'd be set in terms of the food. But there is much more to a themed dinner party then just the food. You need to think dress, drinks, music, decor, ambiance, movies playing as a possible background visual and the list could go on .. and on.

Think about your friends and those who love to dress up – because I know some people are just not into this sort of thing. If you get the right people along, the dinner party will be a huge hit. Think about the people who would enjoy doing something a little different from the ordinary..

But maybe you have some friends that you hear talking with excitement about fancy dress parties they may have been to. Take this one step further and make your dinner a dress up dinner party. Guests need to come dressed in their 70s gear! Flared pants, gold medallions, long boots – think Saturday Night Fever era.

Your menu could include a prawn cocktail, followed by chicken Kiev or the very popular 70s dish Quiche Lorraine, rounded off with Black Forest gateau or gammon and pineapple, duck a l'orange and sherry trifle.

For more menu ideas check out this website:

I love sharing my dinner party ideas – I hope they help you in some way!

You may want to consider wearing a t-shirt like this with some flared jeans as you greet your guests:

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A fondue dinner party idea

Fondues were huge in the 70s and this communal experience has again emerged as a great retro dinner party idea. If you've never experienced a fondue with your friends or family I highly recommend it.. it's different and it's fun but there are some etiquette tips you should be made aware of and these are highlighted below. You will need a pot and these are easily purchased from a home store. These will come with instructions of how to melt the cheese properly (remember to use Swiss cheese).

You can also purchase inexpensive small pots for a chocolate fondue in which you can dip lovely morsels of fruit. You'll also need long fondue forks.

I found this great description from Wikipedia:

"Fondue refers to several Swiss communal dishes shared at the table in an earthenware pot ("caquelon") over a small burner ("rechaud"). The term "fondue" comes from the French "fondre" ("to melt"), referring to the fact that the contents of the pot are kept in a liquid state so that diners can use forks to dip into the sauce. The sauce is usually warmed either by a separate burner containing an alcohol-based fuel or simply by tealights. Though cheese fondues are the best known kind, there are several other possibilities for the contents of the pot and what is used for dipping.

As with other communal dishes, fondue has etiquette standards ranging from practical to amusing. Some people consider it rude to allow one's lips or tongue to touch the fondue fork, and with meat fondues one should use a dinner fork to remove the meat from the dipping utensil. The "no double-dipping" rule applies here as well: once a taste has been taken of a dipped morsel it should not be returned to the pot. If the bread or fruit is lost in the cheese or chocolate, it is tradition for that person to buy a round of drinks or to be punished in another way.

Originally Swiss, Fondue became very popular in the United States in the 1970s."

And as I say, fondues are back. Stay tuned for some more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime check out this Cuisinart electric fondue maker:

The fun of fondue gets a sleek and convenient makeover with this Cuisinart electric fondue maker. Designed for use with oil, broth, chocolate, or cheese, the set combines powerful electric heat with easy temperature control and handsome but tidy construction.

The 3-quart stainless-steel bowl is lined with nonstick coating for keeping heated foods from sticking, and the stand, bowl, ring, and temperature probe all assemble and disassemble easily. A combination of finishes--brushed on the bowl and ring, mirror on the stand and handles—gives the unit a contemporary flair. Heat up is efficient here--getting oil to 375 degrees F takes between 10 and 15 minutes.

Best of all, you can change the temperature setting with a simple turn of the dial to adjust for different ingredients or the passage of time. For clean up, run the entire set (temperature probe and cord removed, of course) through the dishwasher. A set of eight color-coded fondue forks is also included. Fully assembled, the fondue maker stands 6-1/4 inches high; the bowl is 8-1/4 inches in diameter at the opening. --Emily Bedard

The Hostess with the Mostess

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Dinner party idea - your friends can bring a course

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

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A roving dinner party idea - a starter at your house, main and mine and dessert at another friend's

I always strive to make my dinner parties memorable and so Im always on the look out for the best in dinner party ideas.

In fact, I have a few friends that are just as into spoiling their guests as I am. So, I approached two of our friends who live close by and suggested we all chip in and host a roving dinner party. We were all within a short walking distance to each other so we didn't have to worry about drink driving or anything..

The date was set and we decided who would host the starter at their house, who would host the main and who would host the dessert..

It was a superb night - the actual experience was the most memorable thing about the dinner.

When we got to our friend's house for the starter, they welcomed us with some refreshing cocktails and a light platter of hors devours. We sat and ate a wonderful entree and an accompanying drink. We didn't rush it - we had plenty of time.

We moved on to my house for the main. On arrival to our house, I'd had all the candles prepared to light and I'd chosen the background music that would set the mood further.. It was Buddha Bar CD - I'd been to the Buddha Bar in Paris for dinner and bought their CDs as a memento.. this was the sort of music I wanted to play as I'd enjoyed my meal in Paris so much listening to this and it also brought back wonderful memories.

Here is my personal favorite:

I had of course prepared a meal in advance and on arrival, I was able to make the final touches to the dish quickly and dress the salad so it was lovely and crisp and fresh. We'd bought a bottle of Pinot Gris wine to match the fish dish I'd prepared.

We ate and laughed and chatted. Even though we knew dessert was at our other friend's house, the whole experience was just plain exciting.. and because we knew at the outset what our plans were, we were all prepared that the dinner would involve moving around.

When we thought the time was right, we moved to the final destination where our other friend had again put a lot of thought and preparation into just the right dessert to suit the occasion. She'd prepared a baked dessert and all she had to do was pop it into the oven as we settled in to the new environment. Again, the mood had been set with lighting and the table was beautifully set with flower arrangements, dessert wine glasses and the cutlery and plates for our pudding. We eased into the new environment and soon the dessert was ready to be served. It was truly sensational..

The whole dinner took a few hours but of course it flew and before we knew it, it was finished.But not forgotten!

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Mango dinner party idea

Mango dinner party ideas? What the heck are you talking about I can almost hear you asking?

Hopefully it grabbed your attention because the point of today's post is really to say a weird and simple idea can make your dinner party different.. and even memorable.

I love mangoes.. they are so exotic and delicious. I could have really picked any fruit for my theme because there are so many different types of fruit that you can use in both savory and sweet dishes. Like figs.. or pears.. etc. You can use your creativity..

Me I chose mango - and when I say theme, I mean each of my three courses included the fruit mango. But I will be doing many more posts on various other themes..

Yes, you can buy imported mangoes or you can use tinned mangoes if you can't find the real thing.. My menu consisted of:

Starter - crab cakes with mango salsa
Main - chicken with a light mango sauce
Dessert - sticky rice with mango

The menu proved very popular with my guests.. it was a different experience for everyone who came.. And my main aim is to make my dinner parties stand out in some way. This was simple.

What's more it proved a fabulous menu for a summer dinner party..

This gourmet mango syrup is ideal for adding to espresso drinks, brewed coffee and teas. Also great in Italian sodas, smoothies and for cooking and baking.

I'll bring you more dinner party ideas soon. If you are interested in any of these recipes I can provide them to you free of charge.

The Hostess with Mostess

Monday, September 3, 2007

Dinner party ideas - themes

I love looking for new dinner party ideas (as you may have gathered) .. and this post is about a new theme you might consider..

Imagine an invitation to a Mediterranean dinner party.. you are invited to go dressed like you're going to stay at a Greek island resort.. or on the Italian or French Riviera.. you go dressed like you are in that wonderful and alluring place.. you dress to impress..

You arrive to the aromas that ignite your senses.. the aromas are amazing.. and an unfamiliar style of music is playing - not something that you'd normally listen to.. but it appeals nonetheless and you seem to easily relax into the atmosphere..

You arrive - the host has pre prepared platters of homos (chickpea dip), baba ganouge (eggplant dip) and other 'tasty Mediterranean dips with maybe some Turkish bread or some Lebanese bread that has been sliced into small pieces and toasted in the oven to a beautiful crispness .. it is still warm and as you have that first taste, you feel like you are going to die from the pleasures that you taste..

Instead of a dining table, there are cushions on the floor and an incense is burning, so every sense is being catered too.. and you haven't even had the main meal yet.

After meeting and socializing with the other guests in this unique environment, you relax into the cushions and on a low table an amazing buffet of Mediterranean treats are served on platters.. kebabs (meat or vegetables on skewers), tabouli salad, falafel (chickpea balls), stuffed tomatos and so many other scrumptious options are available for you to add to your plate. You eat mostly with your hands.. as is typical in many of the Mediterranean countries. And it's OK.

This is something so different... and to top it all off, your host has organized a local belly dancer to come in to give you a bit of a show.. they invite interested dinner party goers to have a try.. and if you don't want to that's fine.. you sit and watch with respect and amazement.. and if you're like me, you wish you could move like that too!

What a memorable night.. different to most dinner parties that you get to go to and one that makes a lasting impression.. my next post will be about a "mango theme"I had at a recent dinner party. Of all things!

All I'm trying to say is that your dinner party ideas need to be different.. why have just a regular (and possibly dull) three course dinner party when your dinner party could be talked about for years to come. Isn't that what we'd all like when we really want to impress?

Stay tuned for more dinner party ideas soon.

In the meantime, add a bit of fun to your cocktails with these swizzle sticks (drink stirrers):

The Hostess with the Mostess

Sunday, September 2, 2007

How to host a dinner party when strapped for time..

A bit side-tracked in my search for dinner party ideas I found this article in the Sydney Morning Herald .. a reader writes in asking for help. She's in a situation where she has eight guests coming for dinner in the evening but she'll be at work all day.. how does she handle this?

Here's their quick tip - they've also got the recipes they suggest so check out the article if you have time.. it's down the bottom of this post.

"To stop feeling totally out of control and to make the dinner a success, I've learnt it's essential to have the shopping done the day before and have at least part of the meal prepared ahead of time."

Yes, sometimes we forget the most obvious..

Maybe something like this might help too:

The SmartShopper® is a "voice activated" grocery shopping assistant. Through voice recognition you'll be able to input grocery store items throughout the week as you need them. The SmartShopper® is pre-loaded with over 2,500 grocery store items. In addition to food and beverage you will also find household items, cleaning and beauty supplies, office and school supplies, etc.

SmartShopper® is a voice recognition grocery list organizer. Its intuitive interface is fun to use and easy to master. Just push the record buttom, say the name of the item you want to add to the list, and SmartShopper® does the rest; it's as simple as that! There are over 2,500 items in SmartShopper's® library, and it can even learn new items tailored to your lifestyle. SmartShopper® automatically organizes your list into categories, making visits to the store more efficient. Need to make a trip to the bank, post office, or pharmacy? It keeps track of errands as well. SmartShopper® remembers so that you don't have to! The internal thermal printer is ink-free, which means you don't have to worry about replacing messy ink cartridges. SmartShopper®, makes life simpler. Includes 3 paper rolls- 4 AA batteries required, not included- Silver

But back on track I'll continue on my search for more dinner party ideas!

The Hostess with the Mostess