Host a laid back dinner party with 6 easy steps. It will only LOOK like you spent hours! These stylish and sensible hostess tips will guide you through your summer entertaining or any time. I’ve included dinner party menu ideas that anyone can make, and a lovely inviting table setting.
How to host a dinner party when you’re short on time or confidence
Sometimes hosting a dinner party can seem daunting. In fact, that’s one of the top reasons people choose NOT to entertain at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I’m breaking it down for you right here. Host a laid back dinner party with these 6 step and you can feel comfortable whether you’re a first time host or simply a busy mom. You can follow these tips when you have last minute guests, or you just don’t feel like pulling out all the stops.
I’ve teamed up with Portillo Wines to bring you these entertaining tips, because what dinner party doesn’t have wine?!
Follow these dinner party ideas to host in style
I was excited to try these wines and found them to be a great compliment to the food! The Rosé is very refreshing, while the Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and goes down easy. As reds go, I’ve always been a fan of Malbec. This was nice with the pepperoni pizza and would also pair well with red meats and pasta.
As a visual person I have to acknowledge that I love the labels! I think they have a wonderful aesthetic and the back is informative with pairing suggestions and tasting notes.
I think you’re going to find these 6 steps for entertaining very obtainable. This was one of the easier parties I’ve put together and I even did it while recovering from being under the weather.
Host a Laid Back Dinner Party with these 6 Steps
STEP 1: Stop at the store and pick up what you need, keeping in mind you may already have things in your pantry or freezer that will work for you. For instance I almost always have a pack of frozen flatbread in the freezer, and cheese, turkey pepperoni, salad or chopped salad, and some sort of fruit in the fridge. In the pantry I usually have canned artichokes, chicken, and tomato paste.
With these basic items I have the beginnings of a laid back dinner party. It’s easy to make 3-topping mini pizzas by picking up a few items not on the list. And while I’m at it, wine is a must!
I received 3 bottles of Portillo Wine: Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rosé. These all go great with pizza and are quite affordable at around $9-$11. Pair the mini pizzas with a chopped salad and fresh fruit. Get more pizza recipes here.
HOSTESS TIP: 3-Topping mini pizzas are a great go-to for easy entertaining. My top choices here are
- tomato paste + turkey pepperoni + grated Parmesan; garnish with fresh basil
- chicken + artichoke + grated Parmesan; lightly drizzle EVOO as the base ‘sauce’
- grated Parmesan + fresh figs + goat cheese; garnish with arugula
Make your party look like it took more effort than it actually did
STEP 2: If you’re stopping at the store you might as well pick up a couple of bunches of flowers for a pretty centerpiece. This time of year we have a nice selection of locally grown ‘farmers picks’ that look great mixed with seeded eucalyptus. You can see my secrets to flower arranging here.
STEP 3: Set the table simply but attractively. A nice collection of napkins can go a long way in creating a pretty table setting. For this table I only used rattan (casual) chargers with a single dinner plate. The striped napkins add interest while the flowers and food on the table add color. There’s no need to use place cards for a laid back dinner party. This is about keeping it easy and casual.
STEP 4: Keep dessert super simple. Purchase ready-made pies, cakes, or macarons from the bakery section. Here I placed a couple of colorful macarons into small jars. These can act as a light dessert treat after the meal or be a take-home party favor for your guests.
HOSTESS TIP: Use wooden cutting boards as serving platters for food.
STEP 5: A little food presentation goes a long way. Make your dinner party table setting look extra special by serving the food in an attractive way. How much more effort does it take to serve a chopped salad on a wood cutting board? None! But it’s unexpected and interesting, and fresh fruit can be placed around it so no extra dish is needed for that.
Another wood board serves up the mini pizzas. Edible flowers can be found in the packaged herb section of some grocery stores. Grab a pack and sprinkle them around your food boards to elevate the presentation of this casual menu.
STEP 6: Relax and have fun. This party took about an hour to prepare all the steps including table setting, flower arrangement, and prepping food. The mini pizzas can be created by you or you can let guests make their own as an interactive activity while sipping on their Rosé.
I hope that “over thinking” things won’t get in the way of gathering with friends over dinner. Just follow these steps for a laid back dinner party and you’ll be all set. And don’t forget to pick up some wine for the occasion. Cheers!