Want to entertain and grow your friendships but don’t have much time? Get nervous and stressed by entertaining? Hate to cook but love to decorate?
If you said ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, the ideas in this post (and all of the Easy Entertaining articles) are for you! I want you to spend only 60-90 minutes, including prep time and cleaning time, to host a fantastic and tasty dinner party and I’ll walk you through how.
Remember you opening your home and giving your friends a night off of cooking is all that counts! Things do not have to be perfect or anything close to it. So instead of killing yourself making homemade, gourmet food, and creating elaborate floral arrangements, just outsource and keep things simple!
Easy Dinner Party How To:
- Speed clean your house: 30 minutes
- Pre-order take out from your favorite nearby restaurant (and pre-pay to make delivery/pick up easier): 5 minutes
- If restaurant delivery isn’t an option, ask a good friend to stop on the way to your place to pick up the food or if it’s a weekday evening, either you or your husband stop on the way home: 5 minutes
- Set your table with colorful placemats (like the ones shown) or a linen tablecloth that looks great without ironing or an easy care/no-iron table cloth, then add colorful napkins, dishes, glasses and utensils: 5 minutes
- Add some no-fuss decor like the flowers in an enamel bowl and serving baskets here: 5 minutes
- Pull out a chilled bottle of wine or bubbly (or pitcher of a signature cocktail like Aperol Spritzers) and have a tray ready with glasses and a small snack like an assortment of pickled veggies (below), Trader Joe’s Classic Chips and Caramelized Onion Dip, or a stand alone savory choice like black truffle popcorn: 5 minutes
- If needed, re-heat the take out food as needed once all guests have arrived and mingled for a few minutes: 5 minutes
Pick a take out menu that’s a crowd pleaser. For this gathering I selected Seattle Icon Ezell’s Fried Chicken to do the cooking. The menu included Fried Chicken, Dinner Rolls, Macaroni and Cheese, and NQM’s Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad. For dessert, Häagen-Dazs® Ice Cream Bars were a big hit and could not have been easier.
If you want to up the Macaroni and Cheese ante, try Seattle fav Beecher’s, which is available these day’s in most freezer grocery sections, or offer the guilty pleasure of Stouffer’s® Mac And Cheese. One of my most discerning friends once asked me for the recipe when I served Stouffer’s®—LOL! Just remember that both frozen options take around an hour to bake.
Most of the time with take out dinner parties, I avoid making any dishes myself but in the case of NQM’s Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad, I took the extra few minutes to make it (which pushed me a bit over my normal 60-minute goal mark) so that I could offer something healthy to counter balance the high calorie goodness in the rest of the meal. Another lower time option is a bag of salad that I often substitute homemade vinaigrette instead of the processed-provided option.
People are so grateful to share time and food with friends that it’s far better to cut corners, stay sane and enjoy yourself.
- Enamel bowl: Hobby Lobby
- Flowers: Herban Bloom
- Napkin rings: Williams Sonoma
- Dishes: Mikasa Antique White
- Wine glasses: Baccarat Vence (discontinued)
- Baskets: Longaberger
*This contains some affiliate links but only if No Qualms Mom thinks highly of the product or service. While NQM may receive a small commission from some sellers if you buy from them, know that using my links does not affect your pricing in any way. And many NQM links are purely information—listed only to help you.
All photos by Laura Taylor Photography