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If you strive to host the kind of memorable soirée that friends and family talk about for years to come, let our stress-free, how-to guide lead the way.

 

Dinner Party Hacks

Planning a party is stressful, especially when it comes to cooking for a large group of people. The catering experts at Wegmans have a few suggestions on how to put out an awesome spread – without the fuss.

Keep It Simple
It might be tempting to go overboard and pull out all the stops when it comes to planning a dinner party, but it can be costly (and wasteful) to prepare tons of options when just a few will do.

“One of the things we suggest to customers is to not go crazy with too much variety or feel like they have to serve a number of different things,” says Joe DiLullo, Wegmans’ cafe manager. “Keep the menu very simple, but have enough for all of your guests rather than trying to have 20 different options.”

Plan Ahead
“The biggest challenge people have is time,” says DiLullo. “You’re running around, trying to get everything out hot and on time, and it creates a lot of stress. Cooking what you can ahead of time to heat up the next day makes your life a lot easier.”

The day of, DiLullo recommends eliminating the most time-consuming projects. Creating a schedule to keep track of when dishes are supposed to go in or out of the oven can also help everything run smoothly

Serve Something You’ll Eat
Dinner parties aren’t the ideal time to be adventurous in the kitchen, says DiLullo.

“We always tell people they should do what they like. People will put out an elaborate meal, but if they don’t care for it, it’s just for show. Instead, serve something you’ve had before that you like and can be proud to put on the table.”

Don’t Feel Like You Have to Do It All
Just because your company is expecting a delicious meal doesn’t mean every little thing needs to be prepared by you.

Wegmans’ Darcy Anderson recommends cooking dishes you know you do well – such as family favorites – then purchasing the rest, such as sides, á la carte.

“Do the thing you do best, and only worry about making that. Everything else you can go outside for,” says Anderson.

Know Your Audience
When it comes to planning your party – be it a holiday dinner or Super Bowl get-together with friends – the fare you serve should fit who you’re inviting and what kind of event you plan to host.

“You don’t want to go through the trouble of an elaborate dinner party if they would rather sit around and have appetizers,” says Anderson. “Think about who you’re feeding, and plan for them – not what you think you should do, but what you know your friends will enjoy.”

 

 

Pinterest-Perfect Place Settings

 

 

 

Cheers!

Your guests will be raising a toast to you with these festive cocktails, courtesy of The Capital Grille Managing Partner Diane Lagler.

 

White Chocolate Snowflake Martini
2 oz. vanilla vodka
2 oz. Godiva white chocolate liqueur
1 oz. white creme de cacao
1 oz. half-and-half
Lemon wedge
Sanding sugar

Directions
Cut a half-inch slit into the lemon wedge and rub it around the rim of the glass. Pour sanding sugar into a shallow dish, then dip the rim in the sugar to evenly coat. Gently shake off excess sugar. Add the vodka, chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao and half-and-half into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain mixture into glass.

 

PRO TIP: Stock up on enough wine, martini and rock glasses for guests. “Those three staple glasses will take care of your whole party,” says Lagler.

 

 

Eggnog Mudslide
1 part Kahlua
1 part vodka
2 parts eggnog
whipped cream
ground nutmeg

Directions
Combine Kahlua, vodka, and eggnog in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, strain into glass and top with whipped cream and ground nutmeg.

 

PRO TIP: Put out four or five different garnishes for your guests to try. “People want to have fun and experiment with their drinks at a party,” says Lagler

 

Turn It Up.

This awesome party playlist will keep your guests groovin’ all night long.

 

Party Planning Checklist

Make a list, check it twice. These easy steps will make throwing a party a breeze.

 

One Month Before

  • Choose a theme
  • Prepare a guest list
  • Send out invitations
  • Test any new recipes

 

Two Weeks Before

  • Figure out how many table settings are needed
  • Stock up on alcohol, mixers and other beverages
  • Make a detailed shopping list
  • Plan your cooking schedule
  • Start all your DIY decoration projects or purchase décor
  • Make a playlist

 

One Week Before

  • Double-check you have enough tableware and glassware
  • Clean out the fridge
  • Create a seating plan
  • Send a reminder to guests

 

Three Days Before

  • Hit the supermarket with your list
  • Figure out where you want the coat room to be
  • Make sure you have enough hand towels, napkins, paper towels and toilet paper

 

One Day Before

  • Set the table
  • Decorate
  • Start cooking prep – washing, marinating or chopping what can be done in advance
  • Prepare what meals can be made ahead of time
  • Grab extra ice

 

Party Time

  • Chill wine at least three hours before guests arrive
  • Do any last-minute decorations, like lighting candles and putting out fresh flowers
  • Finish cooking
  • Relax, and have fun!
December 2017
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