A big time saver is getting all your dinnerware, serving platters and utensils out and organized. This way, when people start arriving and someone is just dying to help (ya right), you can point them straight to your pile instead of having them rummage through all your messy cabinets trying to find a platter to put your chips and olives in, all the while loudly proclaiming, "what do you use this for?", "this box is expired" or "why'd you buy this?"
As far as creating an atmosphere, I don't care for dinner parties with formal table settings and pressed linens. Where you have to be nice. Where you have to pretend you love her dress, shoes and nail polish even before you're buzzed. Where you have to all sit around the table together and are forced to make small talk. UGH! I can't remember the last time my friends and I all sat together for dinner except at a restaurant, can you?
I'd rather prefer to keep things more casual. You know, when you can just point to your bar area and let them at it or hang out and watch my beautiful fish-ies swimming in the pond or sit on the kitchen counter keeping me entertained while I'm readying everything. To me, that's the best part of the nite. After that, people will just eat your food and leave. You know the ones.
So, for my kind of party, do-it-yourself-bars are the key.
Mashed potato bar - idea stolen from some restaurant a long time ago
What you need to do is:
- prepare a whole bunch of mashed potatoes and keep them warm - so make sure there is enough cream/milk/butter/liquid so they don't get hard and crispy instead
- put out nice big soup bowls or martini glasses
- put out different kinds of toppings - be creative, but if you aren't, here are my suggestions:
- chopped scallions
- roasted garlic
- cubes of extra butter
- different seasoned salts
- different powdered spices such as garam masala, coriander or cumin powders
- steamed veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower
- cheese sauce or just different flavored melting cheeses
- I'm sure you carnivores have thousand more options
For dessert, try my Cheesecake bar:
- make some or buy some ready made cheesecake filling
- put out some nice champagne or wine glasses for this one
- serve with assorted toppings:
- melt chocolate chips up with a little cream - a good way to use up all that chocolate
- melt some caramel
- puree different fruits with a tiny bit of sugar like raspberries, blueberries, quinces, mangoes or strawberries
- crushed chocolate wafer cookies or oreos
- crystallized ginger