An event that’s both comfortable and a reflection of you as a host can be a great way to make lasting memories with friends both old and new. At Spicers Retreats we have many talented Wedding and Event Coordinators on hand who have collated their tips on how to host a memorable event.
Whether you’re looking for an elegant soiree or fun dinner party ideas, here’s a guide on how to host an event that’s destined for success.
Decide on a theme. It doesn’t have to be super strict, but a theme gives you a guideline for the types of dishes and table setting you’ll embrace. It also keeps you from feeling overwhelmed by all the options. Even something as generic as “spring” will help form the menu (lamb, asparagus, rhubarb, etc.) and the table setting such as a bouquet of daffodils, bright white dishes, rolls served in a woven basket, and so on.
Who To Invite
Getting your guest list right may be the most important step in throwing a great event. You’ll want to be sure you’re curating the type of crowd that plays well with one another, avoiding an uncomfortable situation where a guest feels awkward when sitting down to eat is important.
Choose dishes that can be prepped the day before. Have a mix of hot and cold dishes so that some can be prepared the day before and some the day of the event. Tossing together a salad the day before saves a lot of time, just make sure to wait to add the dressing until right before serving so that it doesn’t get mushy.
Cheese Plates and Charcuterie Platters
Cheese plates, or a more comprehensive selection of charcuterie is a good, easy option to get people settled into the event. You don’t want people to fill up on snacks before that beautiful meal is served, of course, but wine and cheese or cocktails and small bites is a great way to get people to mingle and feel comfortable before sitting down to eat. A good rule of thumb for appetizers is, you should provide enough food for people to have about six pieces each and don’t replenish the portions.
When it comes to charcuterie, salami, pate, smoked fish, limit the amount of meat to two ounces per person. Again, you don’t want people to fill up. Mix up the textures. With charcuterie, look for a balance between hard salami and softer cured meats like prosciutto, or something more interesting like a sour sausage or a fish that isn’t salmon. With cheese, the texture rule still applies. Go for variety. Soft cheeses like brie are always a welcome addition, as are sharper cheddars and pungent blue cheeses. Don’t forget the extras! Stock up on water crackers, sliced baguette and plenty of veggies to go with the richer stuff.
While you may be tempted to show off all your culinary chops, save yourself some trouble and skip the complicated meat dishes requiring a very specific set of skills. One-pot meals are a great foundation to build your first event upon.
Have dessert of some kind, even if it’s just fruit, and serve it away from the table. A change of scene helps keep the evening interesting and comfortable.
Let guests know about the drink situation beforehand. Folks can be very particular about their beverages, so if you plan on serving only red wine, let your guests know that’s the case and they can BYO.
With wines, make sure you have enough to go around. That generally translates to having at least enough wine for each guest to have two glasses. As a point of reference, one 750 mL bottle of wine contains about six glasses of wine, meaning, if you’re expecting 12 guests, you’ll want at least 24 glasses of wine, or four bottles.
As far as pairing is concerned, and we know that’s the next question on the menu, keep it simple. Rich reds like cabernet sauvignon or shiraz work best with red meats, while chicken and seafood-centric dishes are best complemented by Chardonnays and Champagnes, as well as light reds like Pinot Noir.
That cheese plate we mentioned? Soft cheeses work great with a sweet white like a Riesling or Moscato, while sharp cheeses are ideal with rich whites like Chardonnay. Don’t stress too much about trying to come up with the perfect pairing, though. At the end of the day, most people just drink what they like, regardless of expert opinions.
Make a playlist for the evening and have music playing when your guests arrive. It doesn’t have to be loud, but it will make any silence feel cozy rather than awkward.
Have fun! You did all the hard work prepping everything beforehand, so now that guests have arrived, you can socialize with them and relax a little bit. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, too, if you need an extra hand wrapping something up in the kitchen. Your guests will be happy to help as long as you seem happy and calm.