Suddenly staying in doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
With holiday season in full swing and Canadian weather starting to kick our asses, there’s no better time to throw a dinner party.
But if you’re going to throw it, you better make sure people are going to want to stick around once they show up.
Here are 8 ways to ensure this doesn’t happen…
1. Don’t Plan With Only Your Taste Buds in Mind
It doesn’t matter if you’ve considered yourself a “foodie” before it was even a thing; keep in mind that your guests may not have the exact same tastes as you. Not to mention, it seems that everyone’s either allergic to something or on the latest health kick or fad diet. What does this mean for you? Don’t be too wheat-heavy, offer a mix of both vegetarian and meat options, include an assortment of non-dairy selections on your pre-dinner cheese plate, and have a balance of the healthy and the shamelessly indulgent comfort food. Remember; it’s not just about what you like. It’s about what anyone else could like.
2. Don’t Put Your Guests to Work
The whole point for a group get-together is to bond over banter, food, and cocktails. It’s a break from our hectic lives and definitely shouldn’t feel like work. So don’t make your crew wish they’d opted for a restaurant when you put them to work peeling shrimp or making dip the second they walk in the door. Quite the opposite, make sure there’s already something ready to go when hungry guests arrive and that the wine and vodka’s chilled and ready to be poured.
3. Ditch the Dining Room Table
The beauty with the whole return to the comfortable and casual trend lies in the acceptance (and almost expectance) of all things simple. Gone are the days of extravagant, sit-down dinners in our YP circles (at least, for now). Not only do you not have to worry about the size of your dining room table relative to your growing circle of friends, offering a rotating selection of tapas on coffee tables or setting up D.I.Y. food stations facilitates more interaction among all your guests.
4. Get Creative in the Cocktail Department
Of course, it’s just as much about the drinks as it is the bite-sized goodness. In addition to the staple offerings of wine, liquor, and mixes, a signature cocktail is a welcomed addition to any gathering. This could mean a rum punch, mulled wine…or anything that inspires you. To save yourself playing bartender all night, either pre-make batches of the cocktail in punch bowls or pitchers or set up stations for guests to make their own (because that’s fun “work”).
5. Have Entertainment Options on Hand
It may seem like a no-brainer, but keeping your guests entertained should go beyond a well-curated playlist and good conversation. After a few glasses of wine or scotch, the entertainment value offered in an adult-oriented board game makes for laughs and likely the creation of inside jokes. Of course, most young professionals would never turn away a game of Rock Band either.
6. Give Back
‘Tis the season to give back. If you can’t swing a volunteer day at your local food bank, add a charitable component to your gathering. This could mean asking each friend to bring $20 instead of wine or “Secret Santa” gifts (they’ll probably bring wine anyway) for a local charity of choice. If you don’t want to pressure your friends, and you live in Toronto, you could kill two birds with Mealspirations Holiday Box, complete with high quality meats, gourmet fixings and local wine. Not only does it offer a chef-developed recipe delivered to your door, $10 from every box will be donated to Youth Without Shelter.
7. Have a Late Night Treat
This could be as simple as a fresh-from-the-oven batch of Pillsbury cookies, complete with shots of milk, or a round of White Russian cocktails (milk, Kahlua, and vodka). Or, it could even mean (if you live close enough) a McDonald’s run at midnight to surprise your guests with a tray of Big Macs to soak up the booze.
8. Clean Up in the Morning
Some of the most memorable (and most hilarious) moments happen a few hours into eating, drinking, and being merry. Don’t miss the best part of your own party because you’re stuck doing the dirty work. Your friends won’t judge you for the sorry state of your kitchen (they’d rather have a dance party with you than watch you clean) and it can be saved for the morning. On that note, don’t plan anything before noon the next day…