When it comes to throwing a successful dinner party, it’s about the details. When planning your little soiree, ditch the assumption that it’ll be an expensive evening, as not many students will be expecting ribeye and soufflé to be on the menu. Instead of trying to become Julia Child for a night, focus on three key things: variety, presentation, and atmosphere.
Variety should feature in both the dining experience and the food itself. Aim for three courses: a small hors d’ouvre, a main dish with a side, and a desert. With all of these courses, creativity is your friend. Instead of the classic bowl of crisps, try a homemade beetroot hummus with crudités of all shapes and color, and replace the box of cookies with baked brie with honey and walnuts for dessert.
You should be dedicating the same amount of time and effort to the presentation and the food. Something as simple as a tablecloth can completely transform a humble dinner into something special. Before you go out and buy expensive flowers, look around and see if there is anything that could work as a unique centrepiece. Use a pile of white Christmas lights or use some empty wine bottles as candle holders to give your setting a bit of character.
The most important aspect of a dinner party is the social experience. Create a fun and welcoming atmosphere by preparing meals that can be served from one pot, like a nice hearty soup or a comforting risotto. Alternatively, get everyone involved by choosing meals which require at-the-table assembly, such as tacos or gyros. If your party is a bit less formal, choose three or four tapas-style recipes and let the group get to know each other as they pass them around.
Don’t be afraid to enlist your friends in helping serve up the meal. Get them chopping, pouring, and setting the table; that way (even though you put in the most of the work) there will be a sense of communal effort and camaraderie by dinner time.
Lastly and most importantly, when it comes to student dinner parties, it’s only fair that they be BYOB. Bon Appetite!
image: Betty Crocker Recipes via flickr