March 14th 2011 08:40 am
When planning a dinner party, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about what you should serve. However, don’t let this part of the process hinder your entertaining efforts. Keep these points in mind as you sit down to develop the menu for your next dinner party.
1) Consider the theme or the atmosphere you want to set. The menu sets the stage for the entire evening, based on the type of dishes you serve. You could aim for a traditional, home cooked meal that features classic comfort foods. You may choose to get adventurous and thrill your guests with edgy, contemporary cuisine. However, if your guests are known for having picky palates, it may not be a good idea to try to turn them into culinary connoisseurs over the course of a couple of hours.
2) Be aware of the season as it relates to the menu. If the weather is hot and muggy, heavy entrees and hot soups will not go over well. On the flip side, a cold gazpacho probably won’t be as appetizing in the middle of winter. In addition, some seasons, such as fall and winter lend themselves to savory herbs and spices such as cinnamon and sage, while summer is a time to enjoy the abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
3) Choose foods that match the mood of your party. As you plan, decide if the party should be a sit down event with multiple courses or an informal gathering with lots of finger foods. Another option that is always popular is the potluck dinner party, where the host provides one of two main entrees, and the guests are required to bring a side dish or dessert and a beverage.
Not only is this type of gathering a bit more economical for the host, but it also gives each guest a chance to share in the joy of being a host by cooking part of the meal.
4) Plan for children, if necessary. If there will be children in attendance, consider serving a separate, simplified menu that contains kid-friendly dishes.