10 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Dessert Party Slideshow
August 14, 2012
Know the Basics
It may seem obvious, but caring for the details is key to any successful party. Lilling begins her dessert party consultations by nailing down the "who," "what," "when," "where," and "why" of each event. After all, the last thing you want is to run out of desserts at your own dessert party. Keep track of guests with a spreadsheet or even a Facebook event page for guests to RSVP to. There are plenty of party-planning appsto make organization easier and put the fun back into hosting.
Keep It Sweet Party Perfect Recipe: "You can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate," assures Lilling on creating a basic, tasty recipe. In Lilling’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Brownie Bites, "stuff peanut butter cookie dough into a brownie and you've got heaven."
Pick a Theme
Whether it's a kid's birthday party, a spooky Halloween soirée, or a party to celebrate your favorite superhero, nothing ties an event together like a theme. While a dessert party can essentially be considered a themed party itself, you can get even more focused by basing your desserts around one concept.
"You don't have to limit yourself," Lilling elaborates. "A theme will help narrow down your menu, and you can base it off of anything from pop culture to an ingredient!"
In the past, Lilling helped throw an adult-themed dessert party where desserts like pink champagne cupcakes and mudslides made appearances. Other theme ideas range from centralizing desserts around a fan favorite, like peanut butter, to focusing on a color, which Lilling mentions is extremely trendy.
Keep It Sweet Party Perfect Recipe: Try making Spring Cleaning Chocolate & Peanut Butter Lover’s Bark, a recipe that can apply to many themes and lets you "use whatever candy you have on hand," according to Lilling.
Hosting a dessert party is no fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants task — just think of how long it took to bake and enjoy your signature cake made from scratch. To avoid dessert disasters, whip up batters and batches ahead of time, and become friends with your freezer.
"Remember: Cookies can be frozen for up to one month," Lilling shares. "You can either freeze the dough or the baked cookies and they will thaw out perfectly."
Keep It Sweet Party Perfect Recipe: For a cool dessert, try making Lilling's Pumpkin Pie Cookie Dough Truffle Pops. "Everyone loves cookie dough, but they probably [haven't] had pumpkin-flavored cookie dough. These are fun to eat and absolutely delicious," she promises.
Befriend the Freezer
Thankfully, you can add cake and brownie mixtures to the list of foods you didn't know you could freeze. Other dessert components can be prepared early as well, especially if you’re serving a layered truffle or mousse.
Keep It Sweet Party Perfect Recipe: For a frozen summer treat, try whipping up and portioning out Fudgy Brownie Crunch Banana Ice Cream Pie.
Serve Lovely Libations
Like all famous duos, the cookie would be nothing without its cool, refreshing partner: milk. When throwing a dessert party — especially one for the kids — have lots of milk on hand, so the little ones can wash down their sweets. Outdoor summer parties are always in need of refreshing lemonade or frozen mixed drinks. You can easily prep these in a blender, having them ready to serve. For adults, Lilling always recommends bottles of sweet champagne to pass around.
"Champagne just makes you feel classy, like a 'real' adult," she jokes. Not to mention champagne blends well with sweets, and it’s a winner for creative cocktails.
Keep It Sweet Party Perfect Recipe: Blend the worlds of alcohol and dessert tastefully with Lilling's adults-only Margarita Frosting Shots.
Who enters a battle without the proper gear? Hosting a party is like preparing for war: A sound strategy and flawless execution both start with the basic tools in hand. A dessert party especially benefits from useful kitchen gadgets, the most prominent for Lilling being the cookie dough scoop.
Useful for more than cookies, a scoop can measure out perfect portions of cupcake and brownie mix. "I love my cookie dough scoop and use it every chance I get," she proclaims.
Keep It Sweet Party Perfect Recipe: A cookie dough scoop makes prime portions for desserts like M&M Cookie Cough Cups!
You will never hear a guest complain about too much food at a party. Variety is the spice of life, and essential when you want to plan an entire event around tasting different treats. Lilling suggests smaller, portioned desserts rather than average slices. Not only will these leave room for more variety, but smaller portions openly invite guests to try a bite of everything.
"I have no problem personally eating a big slice of cake, followed by a big cookie," Lilling admits. "But a lot of people become overwhelmed by large portion desserts."
Keep It Sweet Party Perfect Recipe: Heath Bar Blondies with Brown Butter Frosting can be perfectly portioned and largely enjoyed by guests if you cut servings in half.
Think Outside the Box
"Everyone likes a chocolate chip cookie or a vanilla cupcake with chocolate icing, but I would try to take at least one or two things that are a little bit different," Lilling suggests for throwing a truly memorable experience.
According to Lilling, today’s trend is to add herbs to desserts or create offbeat concoctions to up the wow factor. For instance, add basil to lemon treats or herbs to sweet cookies. Let your curiosity run wild, but as Lilling noted before, test all of your unique desserts well in advance.
Keep It Sweet Party Perfect Recipe: Chocolate Chip Blueberry Peanut Butter Cookies offer a "combination of peanut butter and blueberries that is a great grown-up twist on peanut
butter and jelly," Lilling says.
Savory is Sensational
While savory sweets are in style, Lilling also suggests a few savory items to prevent sugar overload. "I don't ever need a break from sweets, but offering some [savory] snacks gives your guests a break from the sugar that they may need," she says.
Salty snacks like pretzels and chips always have a place among sweets — just be sure not to overwhelm yourself whipping up an equal amount of savory snacks. A dessert party isn’t successful if guests are filling up on dip!
Keep It Sweet Party Perfect Recipe: Chocolate-Covered Cookie Butter Pretzels magically blend sweet and savory into one fantastic finger food.
The rules of potluck etiquette do not differ when it comes to dessert parties, but they sure do make a great recipe for fun times. Guests can be swept up in the moment of the party with a theme and a mission. Simply challenge them to use one key ingredient, and even make a competition of it by rewarding the most unique dishes with party favors.
"You don't want to ask your guests exactly what they are bringing," Lilling suggests. "But you do want to be sure you know what type of treat they want to make, ensuring a better variety of desserts."
Keep It Sweet Party Perfect Recipe: Recently invited to a dessert potluck? Today is your lucky day! Whip up a batch of Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes that will knock any cupcake out of the park.