Choose the Right Menu for Your Next Dinner Party

Pick one that lets you be a guest at your own event

The key to a successful dinner party is a menu that lets the host and hostess be at ease, relaxed, and confident.

Choosing the right menu can make all the difference between having a wonderful night or being stressed and overworked.

So we have answered some common questions to help you choose the right dishes to serve .

Q:  I've invited people for dinner, what do I serve?

A:  First, remember what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. Do you like to make creative salads? Have you been complimented on your roast chicken? Do you love to bake? Decide on the one item that you are good at and make that the highlight of the meal.

Q:  I've decided I make a great quinoa and vegetable salad. Now what about the rest of the menu?

A:  Quinoa is a grain and therefore you need a vegetable and a protein. Since the quinoa is made on top of the stove, choose other items that go in the oven and microwave. Salmon can be baked in the oven and is wonderful when served at room temperature. Asparagus can be steamed in the microwave. Prepare the salmon well in advance and pop it in the oven to cook when your guests arrive — set the timer and just take it out when it buzzes. Right before asking your guests to sit down, put the asparagus into the microwave and it will be done when you are ready to eat.

Q:  What about the rest of the meal?

A:  Buy it! Cheeses, grapes, nuts, and crackers can be beautifully arranged well ahead of guests' arrivals. If you want to have extended cocktail time, add sliced meats and jams and bread. Cheese should be served at room temperature, not cold, so it's best when taken out of the refrigerator well in advance. Give guests enough to eat and drink in the beginning and skip the appetizer at the table — go straight to the entrée instead.

Q:  I don't bake, what about dessert?

A:  Serve something no one would ever bake! Macarons are hot and fun. Cake pops are cool and trendy. Donuts everyone loves and no one buys for themselves. Or, get chocolate-dipped potato chips, drizzled popcorn, and pretzels and put into fun bowls in the center of the table. Everyone will be thrilled and it’s the easiest dessert ever!

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