Tuesday, March 23, 2010

S-C Guide to the Ultimate Dinner Party...with a Little Help from GQ

Sometimes I am totally blown away by things I find in GQ, and I immediately think 'why the hell don't I find articles like this in women's magazines?'  This goes for everything from how to brew amazing iced coffee at home to my newest fav: Everything You Need to Know to Entertain at Home with Style and Ease.  Of course, my apartment can hold all of 6 people and is basically standing room only, so that is not going to work out.  However, my bestie just moved into a new place that is screaming for some adult entertainment (dinner party....not naked dancing people).  GQ gives you 26 guidelines to be the ultimate host, but I think I can condense that down to 10.  Full the full list click here.

For the Host:
1. Keep the menu simple: pre-dinner nibbles, main, side and/or salad, and dessert.  No one is expecting a 7-course tasting menu, and it's even better if you can do something like pasta or anything braised.   Your place will smell amazing, and you just need to assemble ingredients or pull it out of the oven and voila!

2. One word on pre-dinner nibbles: Simplicity.  Good olives, cheese, crusty bread, tapenade/hummus/dip, or roasted nuts.  Done.  I even think a bowl of really good potato chips would be amazing.

3. Clean as you cook.  Perception is reality: if the kitchen looks calm and orderly, your guests will automatically be at ease.  Everything will seem under control...even if it isn't.

4.  Make it luxe with lighting and fresh flowers and not those awful pre-mixed bouquets.  Stick with one type of flower for a chic look and something unscented like tulips.   Luckily in NYC you can find a good assortment at most delis.  Also, you can pick up a dimmer extension cord for $15 if you don't have your lamps on dimmers.

5.  Get an ice bucket ready for white wine, champers, and sparkling water.  Nothing says party like an ice bucket, and this keeps guests from having to run to the kitchen to get a refill.

6. Have the music going and unscented candles lit before your guests arrive.  If your party is four hours, make the playlist for six.  And, DO NOT have the television on (unless you are watching the Super Bowl).  Instant party killer. 

7. Immediately get a drink in your guests' hand and make a few introductions if they don't know each other....especially if you have to duck back in the kitchen to finish anything.

8.  Refill, refill, refill--never let a guest's glass go empty.  Enlist someone to help you with this.  This also prevents people from counting how many drinks they have had, and we all know more drinks means more fun.
9. Go back to basics for dessert like you did with the nibbles:  Fresh baked cookies, really good ice cream with toppings, fresh seasonal fruit with creme fraiche or whipped cream (not whipped topping).  Yum.

10.  Don't hide out in the kitchen all night!  Your guests are all there to socialize with you.  Get as much done as you can beforehand, don't be afraid to enlist a guest or two to help you a bit, have a cocktail, and enjoy yourself!

For the Guests:
If you want to be invited back, you need to be a good dinner party guest:

1. Arrive no more than 15-30 minutes late.  You are being served dinner, people are hungry, and you are an ass if they have to wait on you.

2. Never show up empty handed - a bottle of wine or a bag of ice are my two fav party bring-alongs.
3. Don't touch the music.  You are a guest, not a DJ. And if you are a DJ volunteer to do the playlist prior to the party.

4. Don't stay too long.  No one likes the person who can't get the hint that the night is over.  You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.  Make sure you are out of there by midnight.

5. Send a thank you note or email.  It is a huge pain in the ass to have people over so thank your host.

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