Your First Time… Hosting a Dinner Party

(Image Credit: Monkey Business)

(Image Credit: Monkey Business)

So you want to throw a dinner party? You have come to the right place. Any time is a good time to gather friends and eat. The great thing about throwing your own party is that it can be as fancy or down to earth as you wish. The hardest part is getting started. There are three big things that have to be decided. After that, the rest will flow with ease!

Decision one: Who to Invite

The guest list in essential to any get together. It is absolutely of the utmost importance that you think about who will be in attendance if you are not drawing from a set group of friends. If the group is pre-established easily, then skip this and move on to food! If you’re trying to create a group out of friends in your life that come from different circles, think for a minute. Do not invite the friend with the big mouth and no boundaries if the rest of the group leans towards introversion. Do not invite someone who will not know anyone else unless you are open to a plus-one or they make friends easily. Basically you want conversationalists. When I think of a dinner party I think of easy conversation and good food.

Decision two: Food

Check to make sure no one has any food allergies or special diets. Anaphylactic shock is not what you want everyone to be talking about when they leave the party. Once the medical stuff is cleared, think about how much prep work you want to deal with. Will the food be made at home with loving hands or will it be purchased with the guests none the wiser? Either one is perfectly acceptable!

If the home-assembled route is where the desire is, may I direct you to my friend Martha. Martha Stewart’s website has a whole section for dinner party meals.  Main dishes are broken down by season on the website. Appetizers can be sorted by seasons, classic, quick or elegant. Martha has your back.

Personally, I make a dessert by hand and pick up the rest from the local grocer. I like my meat precooked by someone with their own oven so that my home is not hot.

Decision three: Decorations

Pinterest is a genius tool. Simply typing in “dinner party ideas” will bring an overwhelming amount of help. Overwhelming is the key word. Pick a theme or idea before venturing to the internet. I personally think Pinterest is best for decorations. Cool napkin folds, cheap and classy centerpieces, homemade streamer instructions; that kind of thing is what Pinterest is for best. Decide in the beginning how fancy you want the party to be.  Nice place settings and some candles class things up fast; I speak from experience.

Another recommendation I have for dinner parties with a sizable guest list is a photo area. Drape a solid-colored sheet in a corner, throw down some props from Party City and voila! People can take selfies with cell phones easily. At a party I hosted last year, I bought cheap disposable cameras from a convenience store. This way people can take pictures and it’s a surprise what they’ll look like. After you get the photos developed, mail copies to your guests with a thank-you card. Everyone will think you are the hostest with the mostest fun ideas.

That is it! Everything else will come naturally. When sending out invitations (or emails or texts) make sure to convey to the guests what level of fancy is pre-planned. It is okay to have expectations as long as they are conveyed. No jeans? No children? Bring your own beverage? All is good, just be up front. Most importantly have fun! No one likes a stressed out host that runs around all evening getting sweaty and not enjoying their own party.

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Ketel One Pumpkin King (Image Credit: Ketel One)

Have a very merry holiday with pumpkin, cranberry and ginger cocktail recipes from Ketel One!

Ketel One Pumpkin King (Image Credit: Ketel One)

Ketel One Pumpkin King (Image Credit: Ketel One)

If you’re looking for some tasty and fun cocktails to serve with your Holiday feast, look no further! Whether you’re a fan of pumpkin everything or just want to put a little twist on a more traditional cocktail, we have the perfect selection of seasonal Ketel One recipes that will compliment the turkey and pie, and have your guests giving thanks. Try these out and let us know what you think in the comments! Continue reading

(Image Credit: Yanlev)

Throwing a Party? Pick a Theme!

(Image Credit: Yanlev)

(Image Credit: Yanlev)

Every year, my birthday finds me just like clockwork, no matter how hard I try to hide from it. I dread birthdays, but not because I’m getting old. On the contrary, I’m young and full of life and spunk, and plan to be that way at any age. I dread my birthday because parties are such a pain to plan. Continue reading

SCANDAL (Image Credit: ABC)

Perfect Cocktail Pairings for Your Favorite TV Show

SCANDAL (Image Credit: ABC)

SCANDAL (Image Credit: ABC)

What’s better than sitting down to watch your favorite TV show? Sitting down to watch your favorite TV show with perfect adult beverage to go along with it. Just as you can pair fine wines to the foods that will best enhance their luscious flavors, woody undertones and tannins (whatever those are, I’m no Frasier Crane), there’s a cocktail out there that will match the mood of any show and highlight all of its best attributes. Check out our perfect pairings below! Continue reading

Goats Cheese and Cranberry Mac and Cheese Cups Recipe by Jenny @ Bake

Goats Cheese and Cranberry Mac and Cheese Cups Recipe (Image Credit: Jenny @ Bake)

Goats Cheese and Cranberry Mac and Cheese Cups Recipe (Image Credit: Jenny @ Bake)

I couldn’t say when I first fell in love with hosting parties.  It certainly wasn’t something I grew up around.  My Mother’s annual Boxing Day family was a source of great stress, and should have been enough to scare me off throwing my own for a lifetime.

But some time, after I graduated from awkward University gatherings, where I scurried around attempting to be a fantastic hostess to a bunch of drunk students who needed nothing more than a location to arrive at with their cheap BYOB, I found balance.  The thin line between making sure your guests have everything they want without constantly offering them snacks and drink refills. Continue reading

Cards Against Humanity (Image Credit: Amazon)

Quirky Item of the Week: Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity (Image Credit: Amazon)

Cards Against Humanity (Image Credit: Amazon)

I’d be really surprised if most of you hadn’t already heard about this game but just in case you live under a rock or have non-game loving friend; here is the inside info. The party game Cards Against Humanity is exclusively sold on Amazon in the U.S. (plug for my employer) and is basically just like Apples to Apples but dirtier.  How dirty? Well, let’s just say you wouldn’t want to play with your mom or any seemingly non-sexual member of your family or friend base.  Although I’d love to give you some rated-R examples, I’m pretty sure I’d get in trouble with my editor. Instead, let me introduce you to some videos of people playing the game. Continue reading

Halloween (Image Credit: Mike Spasoff)

Your First Time… Throwing a Halloween Party

Halloween (Image Credit: Mike Spasoff)

Halloween (Image Credit: Mike Spasoff)

My Halloween-o-meter kicks into full gear right about the end of September when all the stores are putting out the costumes and candy. And it just makes me want to celebrate. Once you get too old for trick or treating, it may seem like Halloween loses a lot of its verve, but trust me, it doesn’t.

Halloween just so happens to be the perfect holiday to throw a party! It doesn’t have the familial obligations that come with Christmas and Thanksgiving, it’s important enough to celebrate and it isn’t a depressing holiday like Valentine’s Day can be.

But throwing parties can also be stressful. I know, I’ve thrown several Halloween parties, and they weren’t all me watching scary movies and eating candy by myself in my dorm room. Below, you’ll find tips on throwing your first Halloween party and making it one to remember. Continue reading

The Most Refreshing Summer Cocktail Recipes!

Raspberry Muddled Rebuttal (Image Credit: Dinner Series)

Raspberry Muddled Rebuttal (Image Credit: Dinner Series)

It’s officially summer and everyone is trying to soak up the warm weather. Even if it’s barbeques, bridal showers or birthday parties, maintaining your cool is the best bet to assure you’ll have a good time. Here are five summer cocktails that are both easy to make and refreshing to taste.

Raspberry Muddled Rebuttal Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5 raspberries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 ounces Ketel One Citroen
  • pink lemonade

Directions Muddle the raspberries. Add sugar. Add Vodka. Add Pink Lemonade. Shake well. Pour into ice filled glass. It’s that simple! Serves One (Adapted from About.com)

Strawberry Mojito 9Image Credit: Charleston's The Digitel)

Strawberry Mojito 9Image Credit: Charleston’s The Digitel)

Strawberry Mojito Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh strawberries
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 shots white rum
  • ¼ cup club soda

Directions Muddle strawberries and mint leaves. Add sugar. Add rum. Shake or stir well. Fill glass with ice and add club soda. Mix again. Voila! Feel free to garnish with leftover mint and strawberries. Serves One (Adapted from White on Rice Couple via The Berry Bible)

Orange Coconut Recipe

Ingredients

  • Orange juice
  • 2 shots vodka
  • A dash of Malibu rum

Directions Fill glass with vodka. Add desired amount of orange juice. Add a splash of Malibu rum. Mix well with ice! Serves One

Summer Ale Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cans of your favorite beer
  • 12 fl. oz. frozen can pink lemonade
  • Vodka

Directions In a large pitcher, empty frozen can of pink lemonade mixture. Next, add beer. To measure how much vodka is needed, use the empty can from the frozen pink lemonade. Fill the empty can with vodka and pour into pitcher. Stir well! Tip: Try using Bud Light or Corona Light for beer. Serves One

Tequilla Sunrise (Image Credit: Uka0310)

Tequilla Sunrise (Image Credit: Uka0310)

Tequila Sunrise Recipe

Ingredients

  • Orange juice
  • 2 fl. oz. tequila
  • A dash of grenadine

Directions Pour tequila on ice. Next, pour desired amount of orange juice into glass. Finally, add a dash of grenadine. For garnish, add an orange slice and a cherry! Hint: This drink gets its name from its finished look so be sure to add the grenadine last to ensure its pretty appearance! Serves One (Adapted from All Recipes) Blueberry Summer Storm Ingredients

  • Fresh blueberries
  • ½ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • 2 oz. gin
  • A dash of club soda

Directions Purée a handful of blueberries with a bit of water. Fill shaker with blueberry purée, lime juice and syrup. Add gin and mix well. Strain into a glass and top with a dash of club soda. Garnishing with mint is optional! Serves One (Adapted from Smith & Ratliff)

Strawberry Watermelon Slushie Spritzer by Rachel Cooks

Strawberry Watermelon Slushie (Image Credit: http://www.rachelcooks.com)

In my mind, watermelon is to summer as pumpkin is to fall. A good watermelon slushie sounds like the perfect drink on a hot summer day and this recipe from Rachel Cooks really hits the spot. I love the strawberry watermelon combo and the simplicity of the recipe makes it easy to throw together 1-2-3. All you need is a few ingredients and a blender. I was able to whip one of these up in minutes and it was absolutely delicious. To find out how to make your own yummy slushie, go to Rachel Cooks and check out the recipe!

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