1.18.2013

5 Steps To An Easy Dinner Party

1.  Set the table a day or two in advance.
Seriously.  It only takes a few minutes and you will feel so prepared.

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2.  If you don't have flowers, just use a house plant like this succulent or fruit.

3.  Have a game plan and prepare things in advance.
You can see here where I made the balsamic glaze, soup and dessert on Thursday, the day before the party...
I used the new cookbooks that I got for Christmas.
This appetizer from Tiny Food Party was waiting as guest arrived.
Along with warm Parmesan Crisps from
Here I am checking the oven. 
All set.  I like to roast lemons with the vegetables and give them 
an extra squeeze before serving.  The Crispy Mustard Chicken is in there, too.

This Easy Pea Soup is also from
(basically the whole menu is from this book).
Looks pretty good with that crispy prosciutto, huh?
What was I doing?  Oh yes..."my steps to an easy party"...

4.  Get a "volunteer" to help you serve.
Look how fast Cody serves the soup!  He doesn't want it to get cold.
5.  Start drinking wine (or not, that's just me) and enjoy your guests.
I can't cut the raspberry bars as precisely as Ina...
but you know they were home-made.  I found the French cupcake papers at Home Goods.
6.  One last step...the idea is to have fun with friends in a
 homey environment.  Take the initiative.   
Order take-out or do an impromptu pot luck.   
And light the candles.  
You know how good you look in candle light!

Participating in 

46 comments:

  1. Your table looks so pretty! I agree with you on setting the table ahead of time. I try to do as much as I can ahead of time so I am less stressed and can enjoy myself more!
    -Shelley

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  2. Great tips and the food looks really good too. It's great to be prepared enough to be able to simply relax and enjoy the evening with friends. Have a wonderful weekend xo

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  3. Love your tips Mary Ann! We love to host and try to make it special for our guests while still relaxed. One of our favorite things to do is have a pizza night where we make gourmet versions for the grown-up and then some kid-friendly versions too. It's a hit with everyone! I think being relaxed as a hostess is so important and the organization is a huge key to that! :-)
    Vanessa

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  4. I was really thinking about this. I posted the whole week in facebook pictures of beautiful table and your tips are amazing. Thank you.
    Hope you also like my blog!
    Inês
    perfect-home.blogspot.pt

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  5. Mary Ann I love it when you have a party because I know we will be treated to a lovely post! Your table looks great as usual (love the plant!) and these are all good tips....especially the one about being relaxed and enjoying your guests. Bon appetit!

    And bon weekend!

    Karen

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  6. Your home, the menu, the beautiful kitchen, well, the execution of everything looks delicious, pretty and welcoming!

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  7. Awesome dinner! Love everything you did!

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  8. Oh Mary Ann...you are quite the "hostess with the mostest"! Your table is so lovely and inviting....perfect for a casual dinner party. I always set my table the day before, but a couple of days would work too. I have several of Ina's cookbooks but I'll have to check out this one...I think I saw it at Costco. Everything looks so delicious and I'm a sucker for anything raspberry! One of my favorite cookbooks is "The America's Test Kitchen's Best Recipe Cookbook"! I have an old edition but they have a new one out "America's Test Kitchen's NEW Best Recipes". Well worth the $20. from Amazon....or maybe Costco!

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  9. I was just thinking about an early Valentine's dinner with friends. Your table looks so pretty and the menu sounds great.

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  10. You have me soooo hungry, aren't Ina's recipes awesome? Truly foolproof, but must say you executed them to perfection. Like you I am a huge list maker....have them all over, and setting things up the day before is so smart. You are a true pro!

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  11. Your table looks elegant, and the food looks wonderful! I love the barefoot contessa. I watch her show everyday.

    Kathy

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  12. Mary Ann everything looks so yummy!! I must get this book of Ina's

    xoxo
    Karena
    2012 Artist Series

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  13. I love this post...you have made everything look so simple and organized and your tips are great. I have to check out Ina's book. She is amazing. Love the appetizers you served!

    XO,
    Jane

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  14. What a beautiful table. You can't go wrong with anything from any Barefoot Contessa book. I always use her recipes. My friend Pam Krauss's recipe is in the latest book. She used to be Ina's editor but is now v.p. of Clarkson Potter.

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  15. lovely....I was wondering about that book.....now I have to get it!!!! I would love to hear about your table center piece (beautiful)...is that a succulent?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, It's a succulent and requires very little water...prefers very little attention actually.

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  16. I adore this post!!!!! Especially the last part about taking the initiative and just do it….order out, whatever, the point is to get together. I think so often we ladies in particular put too much pressure on ourselves to make everything fabulous. It's okay to set a pretty table and serve Chinese food on it. How lovely is your table? You always entertain so graciously.

    And Ina is a goddess. :)

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  17. I have a notepad with everything from the grocery list to the last details. Also, I write up an "after the party" list of what worked well, the successes, the "do differently next time," and a comment on the timing. It is a great reference for the next party, and the notes are wonderful memories of good times with friends and family.

    Great party, and your photos (and lists) made me feel as if I had been there.

    Bises,
    Genie

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  18. What a great menu you had. Looks like fun. I enjoy a dinner party, but they are a lot of work. For me it is doing all the cooking and serving after doing all the cleaning and grocery shopping. My husband does it with me, but it can still be a lot of work. I love how clean the house is afterward though ;)

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  19. Love the touch of red on the table and the recipes look delicious. Must check out the book.

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  20. Great ideas and suggestion Mary Ann. Thanks for sharing them with us.


    Have a great weekend!

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  21. I made the Parmesan crisps for a women's group in December and they were a huge hit! Pea soup....not so much. I didn't really like it. I have my very favorite pea soup recipe, from 1988, Gourmet (!) that I will have to post soon. It just didn't have much taste to us...but I do love all of Ina's books.

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  22. Hi Mary Ann,

    All great tips and the food looks wonderful...love Ina's recipes! I have learned over the years to get as much food made ahead as possible before having company. I also try and set the table the day before and have my white tablecloth ironed ready to go hanging in the closet if I want a more elegant table.

    I will have to do takeout sometime, like you said the idea is to have fun!

    Linda in SD


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  23. What a great dinner party. I love Inas recipes, the few I have tried have all been easy and delicious.

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  24. Just bought both books! Thanks for the wonderful post!

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  25. Love your table...and so true about candle light! Love your idea about using a plant. It's low and adds so much texture to the table setting. Even better than flowers. Love your style girl!

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  26. You are so much fun. Such a nice dinner party..and you are right about making it just a fun homey environment. I had my family over last night for a lasagna dinner. Delicious! Happy Weekend. Karen

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  27. Everything sounds and looks wonderful....I'm going to have to get her book!

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  28. Hi, Mary Ann - I'm coming over for dinner (even though we just met)!!!! I'm totally crushing on your huge and very professional oven. Looks like double ovens?? Please add another place setting for me the next time. Since I am an amateur cook, I'll just bring wine ;)
    Cheers,
    Loi

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    Replies
    1. You are always welcome...I know the dinner conversation would be fascinating with you there!

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  29. This is so wonderful. I have not been in the mood to cook after all the huge holiday meals.-- so thank you for the inspiration. I love Ina, she is so relate-able and makes it look so easy. Have a great weekend.
    xo Nancy
    Powellbrowerhome.com

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  30. First of all, isn't that cookbook the best?! I got it for my birthday in December and have made so many great thing from it already, the minestrone, the vodka penne, the salted caramel brownies, and bunch of others. Secondly, I've never set the table before the day of. I'm going to start doing that from now on.

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  31. Love your table and fabulous menu! As a former flight attendant, the best training I received was to prepare way ahead! By the time the plane was beginning to taxi the food and galley had to be completely prepared. I flew during the days we were called "stewardesses" and we served real meals! Like you, I always set the table and the "scene" several days ahead. And get my serve ware, platters, pitchers, etc. out so that I can be sure it's all there and clean. Love your blog...and by the way, covet that big beautiful stove of yours!

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  32. Just lovely.

    It would be perfect to share at Seasonal Sundays!

    - The Tablescaper

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  33. What a beautiful tablescape, Mary Ann. I like that you can enjoy it a few days before the party. Everything looks delicious. Love those French cupcake wrappers.

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  34. Hi Mary Ann, Your table is beautiful and everything looks yummy. I am going to try the parmesan crisp soon. xx, Sherry

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  35. Great tips! I tend to stress too much myself. I try to calm down and just enjoy it! Blessings, Tammy

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  36. You have some really great tips in there! We are starting to do a special family dinner every Sunday and I'm excited to start implementing some of these tips! Thanks so much for sharing this! I'll be following your blog starting now! =D

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  37. Mary Ann,
    I love your tips for entertaining friends and use many of them myself. I received the new Foolproof cookbook for Christmas too and I'm happy to hear you've tried these recipes...I've got to dive in this month.
    Karen

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  38. Great to have you at Seasonal Sundays.

    - The Tablescaper

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  39. Looks like it was a tasty dinner.
    ...and your kitchen looks beautiful even in "in use". I'm jealous :)

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  40. This is great Mary Ann! You appear to be totally in control and your menu has been prepared to perfection. I've got a couple of Ina's cookbooks and use them all the time. Her recipes aren't too complicated and always delicious. Your table looks lovely too!

    Hope your week is off to a good start!

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  41. This is such great advice and perfect timing for me. I am hosting a dinner party for 8 in February and love the recipes and tips!!

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  42. Your pictures really turn out beautiful and show off your table and food. I think your amazing how you entertain and make it look so easy.You set a really nice table for this dinner party, and I love the simplicity of the centerpiece. It's simple, yet it has plenty of color and texture provided by nature. dinnerparties.co.uk


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