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The ABC’s of Entertaining

October 3, 2010

Dinner party… those two words can be intimidating if you are the host. Panic attacks, money, menu, drinks, what to serve? Don’t fret. I’ve come up with a list that will ease your nerves. My ABC’s of Entertaining are below with pictures from my first ever, gluten-free dinner party. It was a huge success and my guests were very pleased with the meal. Their favorite part? The wine poached pears topped with mascarpone coconut cream. Who knew I had the dessert gene in me?

A canvas sign by my sister, @jennymeyerart.

A is for Allergies: Double check with your guests to make sure they have no dietary restrictions, such as food allergies or Celiac Disease.

B is for Bathroom: Don’t forget to clean, organize and decorate your bathroom before the dinner party. With wine flowing, your guest will use it often.

Gifts for my four guests…

C is for Camera: I always have a Polaroid camera at house events. It brings the silliness out of people, and breaks the ice!

D is for Display: Display your menu in a pretty frame for your guests to see when they arrive.

The amazing menu! Menu template courtesy of Foodbuzz.

E is for Eclectic: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and be original.

Herb marinade for the halibut.

F is for Formal: Forget Evites, mail a formal invitation.

Ribbons jazz up plain napkins.

G is for Gift: Give your guests a small gift. Spice blends are a favorite giveaway of mine. Next thing you know, your guests will be begging you for the recipe.

Easy centerpiece for Fall. Great for Thanksgiving!

H is for Herbs: Packets of Herb seeds or Herb plants in small pots make great gifts as well.

I is for In-Season: Buy in-season ingredients for more flavorful food.

The dining room, pre-tornado mess.

J is for Join: Have your guests join you in the kitchen for some food prep and plating.

A creative way to display menu items.

K is for Kids: Do your guests have small children? Make sure to add kid-friendly options to the menu.

L is for Local: Buying local supports your local economy and is better for the environment.

“Chef Jessie” plating the main course.

M is for Mix and Match: Mix and Match serve ware for eclectic place settings.

Our good friend Bill and my sister with her lovely black eye (from playing kickball).

N is for Name-tags: Name-tags make it personal, and the guest will feel appreciated. I used rocks from my backyard for name-tags.

My amazing boyfriend, Chris and I

O is for Organizing: Organize your ingredients and serve ware ahead of time to save time and sanity.

P is for Prioritizing: Prioritize your cooking and plan ahead.

Outdoor appetizer: cucumbers topped with local goat cheese, apricot preserves and chipotle chili powder.

Q is for Quality: Quality over quantity is my motto when it comes to cooking.

R is for Resourceful: Be resourceful and creative with what you already own. There is no need to spend a fortune preparing for your first hosting event.

The main course: sautéed halibut in champagne sauce with rosemary puree, whipped sweet potatoes and prosciutto crisp.

S is for Simple: Keep it simple.

T is for Table: Table settings do not have to be extravagant. I used small pumpkins and squash to decorate my table; cheap and easy. You can use the seeds to roast or make a delicious soup after the party!

The dessert: red wine poached pears with mascarpone coconut cream.

U is for YOU: Be yourself. Don’t get caught up with the whole idea of entertaining. Just relax and enjoy your own party.

V is for Vase: Fill vases with apples or lemons for a cheap and easy centerpiece. No frills.

W is for Weather: Planning an outdoor event? Have a backup plan just in case inclement weather arrives on your big day.

The full and happy guests: Chris, My Mom, Jenn and Bill.

X is for eXhale: Breathe. Relax.

Y is for Yikes: What if something goes wrong? You burn the rolls? Forget an ingredient? Always have a backup plan and a well-stocked pantry.

The wigs and Polaroid camera come out to play after a couple glasses of wine…

Z is for Zen: Create a Zen atmosphere with great music and candles.

This was the third challenge for Project Food Blog. I did not make the cut but it was a great experience, and I thank you for all your support and votes!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2010 4:39 pm

    Thank you for the help! I have a small house and a small kitchen, so I really can’t comfortably host more than 4 people. But since I’m somewhat inexperienced, the only thing I’d add is “S for Safe” – I only cook something I have made successfully at least once before. Because every time I experiment at a dinner party it inevitably fails. But when I get more experience I will experiment more.

    • ATXglutenfree permalink*
      October 6, 2010 4:31 pm

      Hi Amy! Yes, it is about cooking something that you are comfortable with and in your experience level. Casseroles are always easy and a big hit! Best of luck to you at your next dinner party 🙂

  2. October 4, 2010 3:58 pm

    I entertain quite a bit for family and friends and I love these ideas! I never thought of using spice blends as a guest giveaway or using rocks for a creative menu. L is for LOVE that you included buying local. It is so important that people buy local in order to support their community, their environment, and improve their health. The farmers I promote would appreciate it. Thanks for the wonderful post.

    -Dana McCoy

    • ATXglutenfree permalink*
      October 6, 2010 4:30 pm

      Thanks Dana! I love buying local ingredients. I try to make it to the farmer’s market every week and plan my week’s meals off of what I find. 🙂

  3. October 4, 2010 4:31 pm

    Wow, this is awesome!!! What a great idea. I’m now so inspired to have my own dinner party!

    • ATXglutenfree permalink*
      October 6, 2010 4:29 pm

      Thanks Theresa. I made sure to plan a menu I could make ahead of time. It saved a lot of sanity 🙂

  4. October 5, 2010 8:40 pm

    What a wonderful dinner party, Jessie, right down to all the details! That is one party, anyone invited would not want to miss!

    • ATXglutenfree permalink*
      October 6, 2010 4:29 pm

      Thank you Jenn! It was so much fun!

  5. Jenn permalink
    October 17, 2010 9:28 pm

    My black eye looks ridiculous.


  6. October 21, 2010 2:15 pm

    I love this!! what a fun way to think of entertaining!! I just need somebody to clean my house and we’ll be A-OK! 😛

    • ATXglutenfree permalink*
      November 3, 2010 3:39 pm

      Thanks Carrie! I am with you on the house cleaning part… that would make things less stressful right? 😉 Glad you enjoyed the list!

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