The Perfect Menu For A Low-Key Yet Sophisticated Dinner PartyDec 09, 2021
If you think small condo spaces or two people dining can’t be elegant then think again as you plan your dinner party for the new chic city living lifestyle.
You don’t need to hire a celebrity event planner to pull this off with a little know how.
The best way to start planning your party is by thinking about the menu. You want something that will be both enjoyable and easy for you. You want to enjoy your party as well, right?
Whatever you choose don't let it stress you out. It will require some work if you want it to be chic, elegant and sophisticated.
Here are some tips I’ve learned hosting dinner parties in my place for as many as 12 people.
Pick a Theme: Keep It Casual
I can't over stress this enough. The best way to keep your guests feeling comfortable is by choosing a theme that is low key and casual.
This could be anything from a fun cocktail party, game night or even pizza party (everyone loves pizza). This will help your guests to feel relaxed and be more likely to mix together.
If you do want a dinner theme, then I suggest going with the Mediterranean cuisine as it’s always easy to serve since most dishes are very easy to serve buffet-style. The best thing about this is that you simply cannot go wrong. In my 'Color Me Beautiful', Gourmet Food + Wine Chicshop I show you how to menu plan in an elegant way that is easy to repeat.
Don’t Stress Over Menu Planning
Now that you have the basics down, it's time to think about the menu. This is where you can really show your culinary skills! I recommend choosing a 3-4 entrees that will please everyone's palate.
Stick with simple recipes that do not require a lot of prep work.
You can never go wrong serving a delicious orzo dish or even a simple roast citrus chicken with a beautiful vegetable medley of Tian de Legumes. Make sure you plan ahead for this one! They are easy to make, with only three simple steps, and they are absolutely delicious!
For the main course, I usually serve a hearty meat dish.
"I have four different meats that are always in rotation on my weekly menu, Pork Tenderloin with Herb pesto, grass fed New York Strip Steak with Compound Butter, Chicken Marsala, and Sea Bass with Red Goddess Dressing"
I find that these dishes are always a hit with my guests! If you are not sure what to serve or how to cook it, then join me in my next Chicshop Virtual cooking class and I'll help you create a menu that will be sure to impress your guests or even for date night in. Homemade is better than any restaurant food, unless it's Michelin Star.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Start with a delicious salad course. I recommend a mix of greens with a light vinaigrette dressing.
- For the main course, try something simple yet elegant, like roast chicken or pork tenderloin with a pesto made of fresh herb.
- End the meal with a sweet and savory dessert, like apple pie or chocolate fondue.
- The perfect wine that pairs with your entree is a must. I suggest a dry, earthy red with hints of oak and water with lemon.
- To complete the meal, serve coffee or tea with small fresh pastries.
Although it is important to have a theme for your dinner party, I recommend that you don’t stress over menu planning too much at all.
Because most people are more interested in hanging out and socializing with friends than eating, you can easily just serve a variety of appetizers and desserts.
Choosing The Perfect Guest List For Your Dinner Party
The one thing every dinner party needs is an abundance of conversation and laughter! Keep the ambiance lively by having plenty of refreshments on hand at all times.
Here are the first steps...
- The one thing that is a must for a low key sophisticated dinner party is to choose your guest list. Keep it small, between six and eight people. This will make the party more intimate and allow for better conversation.
- When selecting your guests, think about who would enjoy each other's company. This will make for a more enjoyable evening for everyone involved.
- Next, choose a date that works for everyone on the guest list. Pick a day that is not too close to another gathering or event so that your guests will be able to attend without conflicts.
The best part is, if you put in a little effort, you will impress your guests and make memories that they will remember for a long time!
An elegant menu always has an intro Appetizer to start
Now that the guest list has been finalized, it is time to plan the menu. I always put a lot of thought into what I am going to serve my guests. I make sure to include a few dishes that are healthy, filling, and most importantly delicious!
But first, start with an small bites my chose appetizers. I love serving my guests something small and tasty to eat while we are catching up. A few of my favorites are charcuterie, fresh fruit, tapas, or even homemade soup.
If you are not sure what type of appetizer to serve, ask your guests what they would like. They will be sure to have some great ideas!
If you are looking for a delicious appetizer to serve your guests, try my personal favorite, bacon wrapped dates, Cavier d'aubergine, and sautéed mushrooms with a garlic and lemon sauce.
After the appetizer is finished, next comes the main course!
Pairing your Wine like a Sommelier
When it comes to wine, I always recommend choosing a bottle that will compliment the meal. The key is to think about the flavors of the dish and choose a wine that compliments, not overpowers it.
For example: if you are serving fish, go with something light and sweet to balance out the flavors. If you are having pork or chicken, pick a medium bodied red with hints of oak and watermelon.
Also, be sure to remember that your white wine should always be served chilled!
If you are unsure what wine to choose, ask your wine shop for suggestions. Most wine purveyors are more than happy to offer some tips on what pairs well with your entree.
A chic dessert that's always a winner
No dinner party is complete without dessert! I like to serve something light and sweet that will not leave my guests feeling too full.
A few of my favorite desserts are chocolate lava cake, crème brûlée, Chocolat Mousse, or raspberry tart.
For the perfect finishing touch, serve your dessert with a delicious cup of coffee or tea.
Once your guests have finished their dessert, they will more than likely ask you if they can help with the dishes. This is an excellent opportunity for everyone to catch up and really get to know each other better!
How To Set The Perfect Table For A Dinner Party
Table settings are a key part of any dinner party. They can set the tone for the evening and make your guests feel welcome. I like to use warm colors that are simple, yet elegant table settings that will not take away from the food.
For the finishing touch, I put out fresh flowers on my dining room table. The bright colors are sure to complement your meal and create a chic. If you can't find nice fresh flowers you can add a splash of color with a pretty table runner or some fun napkins. But don't forget to look to nature for decor with colorful leaves and fruits.
Here are a few tips on how to set a beautiful table:
- Simple is always best. Use white dishes and try to keep things simple! Don't use too many different plates, glasses, or utensils. Your guests will be overwhelmed if you do. Instead, stick with about three to five different items per course.
- Now that your dishes are sorted out, the next step is to add some color! Use a brightly colored table runner or some fun napkins to brighten up the table.
- Don't forget the flowers! Fresh flowers are always a nice touch and they make your table look elegant and put together.
- If you are having a buffet style dinner, be sure to set out place cards so that your guests know where to sit.
- You can also add a personal touch by hand picking the flowers and filling the vases yourself! This will show that you put effort into making your dinner party special.
How To Make Your Table Look Classy Without Spending Much Money
As I mentioned earlier, I like to use fresh flowers as decoration for my table. This is a great way to make your dinner party look chic without spending too much money.
If you are on a budget, there are many different options for fresh flowers that don't cost very much money. For example: rosemary stems and grapevines work well if you add in some berries or spices like cloves and cinnamon.
Another great option is to use succulents. These plants are trendy and stylish, and they come in a variety of shapes and colors.
You can also use branches from trees or bushes in your backyard. Just be sure to trim them down so that they are at a manageable height, and then add some leaves or berries for decoration.
Now that you have everything you need to know, it's time to get started on your dinner party! With a little bit of planning and effort, you will be able to host the perfect party that is low key, yet sophisticated.
And there you have it! The perfect menu for a low-key yet sophisticated dinner party.
When hosting a dinner party, it's important to remember that the best parties are those where good friends come together and socialize. I hope this advice has been helpful and I look forward to seeing you in the upcoming 'Color Me Beautiful' Gourmet Food + WIne Cooking Chicshop to learn how to plan the perfect menu for your dinner party!
So, what are you waiting for? Enjoy and get cooking!
About the Author
Milan Perry, HHP, MH
World-renowned wellness chef with an extensive background in nutrition, wellness and herbalism. She is the Culinary Nutrition & Wellness Chef of the Chic Women Don't Diet (CWDD) culinary + wellness coaching program. And serving a small local Chicago clients as a Gourmet Chef. Milan went from working as a commercial print model which emphasized focusing on self to reinventing herself to focusing on the inner beauty that starts with health, wellbeing and the quality of food we eat. Offering online education programs, private wellness coaching, and memberships.
**If you are looking for a new, healthy way get healthier without dieting, I hope this blog post has been helpful in helping you find that path.
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