10 tips for throwing a budget savvy dinner party for 20 people
Last weekend, I had a blast planning a Murder Mystery Dinner Tour in East Troy for a fantastic group of people. Here's what I did to make things easier:
1. Use flatware and plates you have on-hand. Not everything has to match perfectly, in fact it's sometimes better if it doesn't. We mismatched clear and white plates for service and used 3 different flatware sets...gold, silver, and more silver -different shape. Nobody cared and everyone thought that table setting was lovely.
2. Use nature. We pulled leaves, branches, and flowers from the park. A weeping willow tree is the perfect companion for bright, happy yellow flowers.
3. Have lots of bread and easy dips/tapenades on the table to start. Store-bought is fine as long as you garnish and make beautiful. This helps fill people up and gets them drinking and laughing together.
4. Always plate the food if you are trying to control portions. I plated the salad, dinner, and dessert so I knew that everyone was receiving the same amount and no one got seconds....still hungry?? Eat more bread :)
5. Potatoes should be the starch of choice for any dinner party. They are affordable, delicious and go a long way.
6. Slow cook meats. They stay moist, are always perfectly cooked and falling apart with flavor and yumminess. For chicken and salmon, cook to temperature and add a pan sauce to help add flavor and keep moist during serving.
7. Say vegetable medley on the menu. You can buy vegetables that look the best the day of the party. Don't limit yourself to anything concrete.
8. Make a menu that is easily Gluten & Dairy-free. That way, you don't have anyone chiming in last minute with special requests that you can't accommodate. So many things are naturally dairy and gluten-free. I always use vegan butter and olive oil when cooking vegetables and searing meat and I use almond milk in place of cow milk. Feel free to do the same. I promise nobody notices.
9. When it comes to dessert, don't give a choice. Plate a small scoop of whatever you have to offer. Only crazy people will turn down dessert. Don't give them that option. Dessert is the highlight of life. EAT IT!
10. Make sure to have fun and enjoy yourself when entertaining. If you have found that you are someone that can't relax while putting on a show, then hire someone else (me) to do it for you.
lemon pepper salmon
pan seared chicken cutlets
braised beef tenderloin
vegan truffle mashed potatoes
key lime pie
mixed berry cobbler
chocolate pecan pie
vanilla bean whip