Stress-Free Spring Dinner Parties With Style

Some of my most fond and precious memories with friends and family have been shared over the dinner table in my home. Whether it was a celebration or an impromptu gathering, there is nothing better than sharing a cozy supper with people you love. In fact, having dinner parties really has become my favorite pastime!

Use Fresh Ingredients

While the thought of hosting a dinner party might be overwhelming, it really does not have to be. When you use ingredients that are fresh, local, and seasonal — and delicious of course — your work is nearly done (and mostly in advance). I find that combining simple recipes with quality ingredients is a foolproof way of creating a fabulous meal.

Strategic Shopping

When planning my dinner parties, I always start by writing out the menu about one week before the event. I then gather all my recipes for each dish and make a shopping list — separated into two lists, actually. The first list is comprised of ingredients that I can pick up a few days before the dinner party. The second list includes ingredients like fish and bread that need to be bought on the day of the gathering.

Stick with What's Simple

Don't be too hard on yourself when planning the menu. Make a simple starter that doesn't take too much effort! In my menu below, you can make the hollandaise sauce the day before and store it in the fridge. It will go solid, but then just pop it in a saucepan over low heat, whisking every so often, until it's a thick sauce consistency. The lemon sorbet can be made and potted in the lemon cups up to four days before the dinner party.

Now that the weather is warm, dress your table with seasonal flowers. I always try to make a statement with one type of seasonal flower as the effect is more "Wow!" I believe that the most elegant tables are always the most simple. Daisies or other delicate flowers look so pretty tied with pieces of ribbon and placed on your guests' napkins. For an outdoor dinner party in the grass, try tying a stronger flower like a daffodil, white country rose, or peony to the back each of chair — it's an unexpected but beautiful look. 

A Stress-Free Spring Dinner Party Menu

Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce on Toast

Baked Sole with Salsa Verde

Lemon Sorbet

This article was originally publsihed on April 20, 2011