Putting on your favorite party dress and cooking a delicious meal for your friends is the perfect way to see all your favorite people at once and to showcase your (new! newly renovated!) home. But figuring out what to serve, where people should sit and getting everything ready in time can be overwhelming. For expert tips, we called up someone who knows a thing or two about throwing a good party: Andrea Correale, president and founder of Elegant Affairs Caterers. Correale has perfected dinner parties, throwing them for guests like Mariah Carey, Jimmy Fallon, Ivanka Trump and Brooke Shields, so she knows how to make even the pickiest guest happy. Here, she shares her tips on making a dinner party enjoyable for everyone — you, hostess with the mostess, included!
Make a (Practical) Guest List
“A dinner party is your chance to showcase your dining room, so the right number of people to invite is really just the number of people your dining room can fit comfortably,” Correale shares with us. You also want to think about how much glassware and plates you have so you’re not stressing out over that, too.
Split People Up
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to seating. Should you just let guests plop down wherever they want? Should you split up couples and friend groups or sit them together? Correale is a big fan of seating charts. “It’s part of the fun of a dinner party!” she says. “I like to split people up. Having the opportunity to meet new people is one reason why people like dinner parties.” Correale says this is the perfect chance for you to match people up, like the bloggers you think should meet each other, or two of your single friends you think would make a great pair.
Go Healthy to Please Everyone
There are so many different food allergies guests may have — gluten-free, diary-free, vegetarian, vegan — that planning the menu can be a headache. But Correale says you really don’t have to make a ton of dishes to try and please everyone. Her biggest tip is to keep things healthy. “A lot of people are making an effort to eat healthy, so they are actually relieved when they see healthier items at a dinner party and it’s not just a carb-overload,” she says. “Instead of serving rice or potatoes to go with your meat or fish, think about using quinoa or farro as your startchy item,” she recommends. May we also recommend our beautiful (in flavor and color!) spaghetti squash recipe?!
Cook to Stay Out of the Kitchen
No one wants to spend the whole night in the kitchen, and Correale has some tips on what to serve to ensure you aren’t stuck cooking the whole night. “A kale Ceaser salad is a perfect first course because you can dress it early and you don’t have to worry about it wilting. It willl hold up really well,” she says. Another item you can’t really mess up: short ribs. Correale says it actually tastes better the longer you marinate it, so all you have to do is put them in sauce and in a pan. As a side, she recommends grilling veggies such as portobello mushrooms, peppers and asparagus.
Give Guests the Grand (Boozy) Tour
Corraele has a couple ways to get creative if you want guests to see other rooms besides the dining room. Wherever there’s booze, people will go, so stick the bar or wine and beer area wherever you want people to mix and mingle, whether it’s the porch, den or another area. “You can also serve apps or dessert in another room too,” she says.
What’s your secret to throwing a successful dinner party? Share in the comments!