THE NO FUSS GUIDE TO HAVING FRIENDS (and kids) OVER FOR DINNER
There aren't many things better than catching up with good friends over good food and drinks. One of my goals this year is to be more intentional about spending time with old friends (and making some new ones). And part of that is just to make the time to have folks over to our home for dinner. I have a tendency to over think it and feel like everything needs to be super pulled together and perfect. So it just never happens. So I've concocted (or constructed) a little guide for myself, crib notes if you will, to an easy and casual plan for having friends (with kids) over for dinner.
SIMPLE SALAD Ina Gartens simple green salad vinaigrette for the adults is super easy to throw together with things you probably have on hand. And just throw a few of the leftover greens into a mix of cut fruit for the kids. The easy evo with fresh lemon dressing makes you look like the ultimate (made from scratch) cook.
DECOR Set the mood with flowers and candles. Light one in the kitchen, dining and family rooms (or whichever rooms you plan to hang out in). I have a small collection of these from Paper and Posies. I like to stick long (store bought flower) stems or limbs or foliage snipped from (the yard) outside in old wine bottles, mason jars, or pitchers like this one. Pull out your cloth napkins, roll them and tie on some twine. Adding these super cute ones I found on Etsy to my wish list.
DRINKS I think mason jars for drinking are still pretty charming and I keep a stash of the small jelly jars just for wine. Your guests are almost certainly going to bring a bottle to share, add a case of your favorite beer to the mix and this lemonade for the kids (I keep the recipe taped to my fridge) and we are all set.
APPETIZERS Hummus, Cornichons (little pickles:-) a bit of fruit, cheese, crackers or pita chips, grapes. I could pull all of these things out of my fridge right now. I have a snacking problem:-(
ENTREE Now comes the hard part (made easy). I came across these Tasty videos in my Facebook feed one day and was instantly hooked. On my list to try: These Skewers 4 Ways, 7 Healthy Meals for the New Year, and these easy One Pan Meals.
ENTERTAINMENT Put on playlist of your favorite tunes or just type in Dinner Party music on Spotify an let it roll. If you are really feeling frisky pull out Cards Against Humanity, hilarious and awkward you'll definitely get to know your guests a little better.
KEEPING THE CHILDREN BUSY... I MEAN ENTERTAINED
- Pull out the paper, markers (and other crafty bits) and washi tape. Instruct each kid to create 3 "masterpieces" and hang them all (in the hallway) for the Art Show/Viewing that will take place after dinner.
- Have them head upstairs to kids bedroom equipped with (darling daughters, Hello Kitty Karaoke Machine) to choreograph a performance that will take place after dinner.
- Or in the summer, when the days are longer have them play outdoors until dinner is ready.
- Family/Group Charades after dinner anyone?
DESSERT Either respond to the question "What can I bring?" with dessert, or decide now to always pick up cupcakes from your favorite local bakery. If you are like me, you will put them on a cake plate and nod and smile (with you fingers crossed behind your back) when they ask if you made them. Yeah I said it.
Voila! No Fuss Friends Dinner. Well maybe a little fuss. But now that the plan is laid, you can always be prepared. Now to press the button on inviting friends over next month.