This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Santa Margherita USA for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
The best dinner parties I've ever hosted, or at least the ones I remember most fondly; are the "relaxed" ones where I, the host, get to enjoy every minute of it as much as my guests!
So throughout the years, I've tried to hone in on what works and perfect the art of dinner parties by keeping it all as simple as possible.
Whether I have days to plan ahead, or for a last-minute get-together. For me, simplicity is the name of the party game when dinner parties are concerned!
And as the weather gets milder, entertaining in or outdoors is becoming more of an occurrence 'round these parts. And I LOVE it! My love for cooking and feeding the people around me brings me more joy than I can tell you. I feed, therefore I am. ;)
So if you’re like me and enjoy dinner parties, but are unsure where to start, don’t be overwhelmed! Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve added to my hostess repertoire. They help me plan a stress-free dinner party, and stay Zen while hosting it at home!
Tip 1 - Use What You HaveNo time to buy or have the patience to make a fancy floral arrangement? No problem!
Foraging around your garden or local woodlands for what's in season will save time, sanity and is totally free! If that's not possible, try potted herbs or succulents. They're a doddle to arrange, last much longer than flowers and you can use them in your cooking or at home for days after.
For this dinner party, I grabbed some rosemary, bay leaves and other foliage from my garden. It took no time at all to add them to some rustic terracotta pots that I had in my potting shed. Empty glass jars also work great!
For each place setting I keep it simple with simple linens. If I have time, then cute details like craft paper name tags are tied to the flatware with string.
When pushed for time, I just place all the flatware into a jug and pile the plates and napkins in a corner for a buffet style table!
Tip 2 - Everyday Dinnerware is OK!Don't think you need expensive dishes to make a table look pretty. Your everyday dishes can totally do the trick and will let the food shine! Investing in a good quality and neutral dinner set and flatware means you're ready to dress your table in no time at all.
My go-to dinner service is based around the green color - green napkins, table runner, green votive candles, plates with greenery designs... But a great white dinner set is super versatile for any occasion. You just need to swap chargers or table linens to a have a completely new look!
Tip 3 - Stock Great WinesI come from an Italian heritage, and learned early on to always keep a few bottles of great wine at home. You know, for emergencies? This is a tip that will save you a ton of time when impromptu guests or dinner parties are on the agenda.
One of my fav wines to keep in stock (it doesn't have to be many bottles...) is a good Pinot Grigio, like this Santa Margherita USA Pinot Grigio.
This dry white wine is beautifully crisp and clean, with a dry taste and therefore really versatile and great served as an aperitif, or paired with seafood, salads or pasta dishes. So it will be ideal for drinks with girlfriends and dinner parties alike!
Tip 4 - Keep Food Simple and DeliciousFor starters, a great plateau of crudités or charcuteries is one of my go-tos when entertaining at home. It means I can buy all the deli ingredients I need, and just arrange them beautifully on a nice platter.
I can even delegate the task to my dear husband or the kids, while I prep the rest of the meal. You really can't beat it, and it's such a convivial way to entertain - everyone tucks in without ceremony, which makes for a fun time!
For the main, I often turn to my Italian roots, and there's nothing simpler, quicker or more pleasing to all, than a delicious bowl of seafood pasta!
If I have time, making my own pasta is a must, but there's nothing wrong with using "fresh" store-bought pasta or even dried. For this main, I sautéed some cooked prawns with garlic and shallots, then de-glazed the pan with some of the Santa Margherita wine. Just before serving I added the cherry tomatoes and chopped herbs from my garden. Tossed some tagliatelle into the pan, and dinner's served!
For dessert, I have a great tip that I stole from from Ina Garten - melted vanilla ice cream makes the best crème anglaise (custard) for frozen red berries - Just melt it in the microwave and you have an instant dessert to end your dinner party on a sweet note!
Tip 5 - Don't Forget to Enjoy Yourself!A happy host makes for a happy party atmosphere!
Even the best-planned events can experience unexpected hiccups, but remembering that it's not the end of the world, and managing to keep a smile on your face regardless, will make sure your dinner party is a great success. Enjoying yourself gives your guests permission to do the same! ;)
Hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to comment on your own tips and trick for a great dinner party!
Follow Santa Margherita wines on Instagram @SantaMargheritaUSA and on Twitter @SMWinesUSA.
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