Traditional recipes

How to be a Great Party Guest

How to be a Great Party Guest

5 quick tips that will guarantee a future invitation

Follow these tips to be invited back to the party!

There seem to be countless tips on how to be the perfect host or hostess these days — from how to concoct the perfect menu to how to set the perfect table — but what about how to be the perfect party guest? Although it is easy to forget, being a guest requires etiquette, as the host deserves respect for the efforts they’ve put into throwing a party for your enjoyment.

Here are five quick tips to always follow when attending a party. Whether it is a backyard BBQ or fancy dinner party, keep these tips in the back of your mind the next time you are welcomed into someone else’s home, and you’ll always be welcomed back again.

1. Give a clear answer if you’re coming or not: RSVP as soon as possible. You’ll come off as reliable and the host will be relieved to begin planning appropriate serving amounts.
2. Bring a gift: It doesn’t have to be fancy or lavish, but bringing along a box of chocolates or fine cheese is sweet and generous. Bonus: If you’re sending flowers, have them sent a day in advance with a card so the host can place them on the table before the party.
3. Never arrive early: While showing up late is also a no-no, showing up 30 minutes early is an inconvenience to your host who will be bound with meal preparation and will suddenly stress about having to entertain you.
4. Be gracious: This seems obvious, but always have the host’s needs in mind as well as your own. Don’t wander around the kitchen getting in everyone’s way, and if asked what you would like to drink, try simply replying, "Whatever’s easiest."
5. Don’t touch the TV remote: Or the music, and absolutely not the computer. Just because you were told to make yourself at home, don’t actually do so. The setting of the party is the host’s business, and you should simply enjoy and not edit.

How to Be a Good Guest

Do you think "punctual" means "fashionably late"?
A tardy entrance isn&apost impressive -- especially to your host, who spent time and energy planning. "Stumbling in when a dinner party is in progress is just rude," says event producer Craig Goldstein, owner of E Squared Concepts. It also throws the chef off schedule. Goldstein advises arriving within 10 minutes of the starting time.

Do you corner familiar faces?
Don&apost ignore them, but don&apost ignore everyone else either. Introduce yourself to new people (and in the process, new experiences). After all, "why bother leaving the house if you&aposre going to hide in an antisocial huddle?" asks Liz Lange, fashion designer and experienced party host. "A good guest mixes and mingles."

Do you weigh down conversations?
It&aposs easy to unload, especially with friends, but parties aren&apost the place to do so. They&aposre supposed to be fun and festive, says Jodi R.R. Smith, owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting and author of From Clueless to Class Act. Translation: Save your stories of potty-training troubles or sinus infections for another time.


Come with an appetite. Hosts take pride in their cooking the worst thing you can do is not eat. "If you don&apost like the food, pretend," Lange says. Nest Fragrances founder Laura Slatkin advises alerting your host of any food allergies or dislikes the day you&aposre invited.
Act interested. Formal sit-downs mean long talks with the same people. "Ask questions that go beyond the surface," Smith says. Engaging your seatmates in meaningful chats shows you&aposre thoughtful and curious about them.
Bear a gift. Lange likes unbaked cobbler: The dish is a gift, and the host can serve or freeze the cobbler. Randy Fenoli, fashion director of Kleinfeld Manhattan and star of TLC&aposs Say Yes to the Dress, opts for local touches, like honey from a nearby farm.


Keep your spirits in check. "It&aposs not the time to try new cocktails," Goldstein says. "Stick with ones you&aposve had before, or you won&apost be able to gauge your limits."
Be a lively conversationalist. When someone asks what&aposs new, don&apost just say, "Nothing." "No one wants to talk to someone boring," Smith says. Be it about a trip you&aposre planning or a book you just read, come ready to chat.
Show your gratitude. Whether you stayed for an hour or a weekend, write your host a thankyou note afterward, says Slatkin, who hosts many events in her New York City home. Even a simple e-mail is a sign of appreciation.


Keep PJ&aposs PG. Walking around in a negligee is never a brilliant idea, Goldstein says. Appropriate attire should be a no-brainer, but just in case you&aposve packed anything risqué, take it out of your bag. Like, now.
Know when to disappear. If your host is preoccupied with a phone call or heated discussion, that&aposs a cue for you to slip away. And respect "their hours of operation," as Fenoli puts it. If they go to bed early, don&apost crank up the TV volume after dark.
Do your own thing. The more comfortable you make yourself, the more comfortable your host will be. "You might run out to pick up the Sunday paper or to the grocery store for breakfast items," Lange says.

Planning Your Appetizer Party Menu

To guarantee a diverse appetizer spread, serve a combination of easy appetizers that satisfy several of the following food categories:

  • Garden: Typically healthy appetizers made with fruit or vegetables (raw, cooked, or stuffed).
  • Starch: Hearty, starchy appetizer recipes, such as finger sandwiches, pizza, and dumplings, are all part of this family. Bruschetta, breadsticks, crackers, and rolls are also mainstays.
  • Protein: Serve meat or fish dishes, such as meatballs, chicken wings, or sushi, to give your guests protein. You could also make an egg, cheese, or tofu appetizer. Try these grilled appetizer recipes.
  • Snacks: Easy appetizers to prepare, the snack category includes nuts, chips, pretzels, popcorn, and other mostly savory finger foods. Check out our favorite easy (and healthy) party snacks.
  • Dips and Spreads: Pair foods from various appetizer categories with tapenades, relishes, and other party dips and spreads.
  • Desserts: Serve mini desserts such as cheesecake, candies, and cookies.

If your guests have dietary restrictions, consider making an assortment of appetizer recipes that cater to their needs. Having vegetarian appetizers or gluten-free appetizers, for instance, might be a priority if you are inviting vegetarians or people with gluten sensitivities.

How to Host a Casual Dinner Party in 10 Easy Steps

Step 1. Invite someone over

Asking people over for dinner is often the hardest part of the entire process. But once you ask, things are set in motion and fall into place rather easily.

If you’re hosting your first dinner party, to keep things as stress-free as possible, I suggest inviting only a couple of people. And make sure they’re people you really enjoy being around!

Step 2. Plan your casual dinner party menu

Keep your dinner party menu simple. Try to think of recipe ideas that don’t involve a lot of last-minute hands-on time. You want to be free and easy when your guests arrive not slaving over a hot stove.

Once you’ve decided on what you’re going to serve, write it all down, like a menu, and make a grocery list. Don’t forget to add bread, flowers, etc., to your list.

When I host a dinner party, I tend to stick with the same easy-to-prepare menus that have worked well for me in the past. Remember, you can easily host a dinner party on a budget. All of the meal ideas below are inexpensive and budget-friendly.

Tried and true menu ideas for casual dinner parties:

  • Spaghetti with meat sauce, fresh Parmesan cheese, a loaf of Italian bread from the bakery, salad
  • Grilled steak and/or chicken with oven roasted potatoes , side vegetable, salad. (Perhaps your significant other will take over grill duty, freeing you up for other projects, like making yourself glamorous)
  • Chili or soup (this zuppa and this fagioli are always crowd pleasers), cornbread or this amazing homemade bread, salad
  • Taco bar (variations: taco salad bar or nacho bar), with cooked seasoned beef and/or chicken, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa, guacamole and chips, rice and beans
  • Spaghetti, salad, ciabatta or focaccia bread, olive oil for dipping.
  • Layered chicken enchiladas, guacamole, rice, beans, and chips.

Dessert ideas:

  • Ice cream and cookies (have a non-dairy option available, too)
  • Brownies or blondies (make ahead)
  • A variety of good quality dark chocolate (I always have this as an option)
  • Chocolate molten cakes (these seem fancy but are very easy and can be made ahead), raspberries and whipped cream
  • Store-bought cheesecake (you might want to offer a non-dairy dessert option, too).
  • Super-easy chocolate-covered strawberries
  • An assortment of fruits, cheeses and honey

For more ideas, check out the Magnolia Table cookbook–it’s filled with crowd-pleasing recipes. And if any of your guests need to avoid gluten and/or dairy, I highly recommend Danielle Walker’s book, Against All Grain.

Step 3. Buy your groceries

Try to make a trip to the grocery store only a day or two in advance so everything’s fresh.

If you plan to use fresh flowers or greenery as a centerpiece, buy those, too. Don’t feel like you have to use flowers to snazz up the table, though.

I often use whatever I have on hand, such as potted plants, flower cuttings or greenery from my patio pots, or dried herbs. I’ve even used sprigs of curly kale nestled in mint julep cups and bowls of lemons as vibrant centerpieces.

Step 4. Pre-make anything you can

You want to do as much as you possibly can ahead of time. This includes making desserts, sauces, salad dressings, etc.

If you’re serving a baked good, like brownies, you can make it several days in advance, freeze it, and set it out to thaw the morning of the big day.

Chop, slice, and dice your vegetables and place them in the fridge in sealed containers. This little gadget is my favorite chopping helper. Also shred any cheeses you’re using.

Step 5. Get a head start the night before

The evening before you host your dinner party, set the table, including glasses, plates, silverware, centerpiece, salt and pepper shakers, candles, tablecloth, napkins, etc.

In addition to giving you a head start, this also helps you to know in advance if you’re short on anything. You might find that you need to run the dishwasher so you have enough silverware, etc., for both dinner and dessert.

In addition, make a quick sweep through the house, picking up (or at least hiding) the clutter, cleaning the guest bathroom (don’t forget fresh hand towels) and running the vacuum cleaner.

Don’t stress about things looking perfect. Honestly, I never notice how clean or messy others’ homes are when I go over for dinner. I’m just so happy I don’t have to cook I’m oblivious to everything else!

Step 6. Take care of the little details

On the day of the dinner party, take a look at the menu you wrote out in Step 2. Set the menu out on the counter so you won’t forget to serve a part of your meal (which I’ve done many times before!).

Take anything that needs to be thawed out of the freezer.

Set out recipe ingredients that don’t have to be refrigerated and put them with the bowls/pans you’ll be using.

Get out the appliances or tools you’ll need, such as a food processor, blender, or grater.

Step 7. Your dinner timeline: plan backwards

Set up a dinner party timeline for starting each task by estimating how long each dish will take to prepare and planning backwards from the time your guests will arrive to when you need to start cooking. Give yourself a bit of leeway for unexpected interruptions, etc.

Remember, though, that even if the meal isn’t ready on time, you can still take a few moments while you’re waiting to enjoy your guests or just take a little breather.

Step 8. Get cooking

Now you’re ready to cook! Clear a work area on the countertop and, to make clean-up easier, cover the area with some parchment or waxed paper.

Here’s a weird but surprisingly effective hosting tip: I put on an apron. For some reason, this helps me get moving. It’s kind of like slipping on a uniform–it allows me to officially step into the role of hostess and chef! I also like to get some happy music going on Spotify.

Then start cooking! Have fun with it!

Step 9. Set the stage for a stress-free get-together

A little while before your dinner guests arrive, assign someone else to keep an eye on the stove and take a break.

Take off your apron, put on something cute and comfy, brush your teeth, put on some lipstick and a smile, take several deep breaths, and (this is the most important part) imagine the whole evening going beautifully–see yourself hopping in bed that night thinking about how great everything went. Sounds corny, but believe me it works!

If you need a little extra help to relax before you host your get-together, two of my favorite homeopathic remedies are Rescue Remedy and Calms Forte . I also love using these essential oils to support relaxation. Even though I entertain quite a bit, sometimes I still get nervous before my guests arrive. When that happens, I reach for one of these natural helpers to calm my nerves so I can enjoy myself.

Then turn on the porch lights and several lights in the house so your home looks warm and welcoming for your guests.

If you’re using candles on the table, light those now. Now everything–including you–is glowing!

Step 10. Enjoy yourself!

Once your dinner guests arrive, relax and enjoy yourself! This helps everyone else relax, too.

Most importantly, remember to keep your sense of humor. If things don’t go exactly as planned, just laugh it off and go with the flow. Any mishaps will provide you with a funny story to share at your next dinner party.

Because–I promise–you’ll want to do this again! For more tips on how to host the perfect dinner part, see this article.

Be a Better Host: Cooking for Guests with Food Allergies

Navigating the holiday table when you have gluten, dairy or nut allergies can be stressful, but as a host, you can make simple changes to your menu so you can please everyone on your guest list.

Dairy-rich eggnog, gluten-laden sugar cookies and gingerbread and nutty pecan pie — these classic holiday foods can all mean disaster for guests with food allergies. With a little creativity, you can effortlessly tweak your traditional holiday menu into an allergy-friendly spread. From appetizers to desserts, these helpful hints will make your holiday affair one to remember — for everyone at your holiday table.

Offer a variety of tasty, crowd-pleasing appetizer alternatives to cheese and crackers . Here’s a quick holiday-appetizer idea you can make with easy-to-find ingredients: Set out rice crackers with a variety of toppings: chutney, hummus (which is naturally gluten free), olives and roasted red peppers or sunflower seed butter.

Get creative with gluten-free grains such as quinoa and rice. Quinoa-stuffed mushrooms are a great stand-in to bread-stuffed mushrooms. Fill mushroom caps with protein-packed quinoa and you have a nutritious and delicious spin to a traditional crowd favorite. Your guests will never know they're eating gluten-free!

For a spread that’s both appealing to the eyes and the belly, arrange a platter of nuts and seeds with an assortment of dried fruits (figs are particularly decadent for the holidays) that guests can nibble on throughout the evening.

Side Dishes
Veggies make for the perfect naturally allergy-free side dish to serve at your holiday table. Roast, steam, smash or sauté your favorite vegetables. Drizzling a combination of whisked balsamic and Dijon mustard to any veggie adds a delightfully simple flavor. For an alternative to a classic side dish like mashed potatoes, make a batch of mashed sweet potatoes instead. Add chopped apples and freshly-squeezed orange juice in place of butter. Or for the creamy taste everyone craves, use a splash of coconut milk in any of your veggie mashes instead of dairy, soy or nut milks.

Root vegetables like carrots and parsnips make a great addition to your turkey table. Simply chop into French fry-like shapes, drizzle with olive oil and a dash of nutmeg, sea salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet to roast in the oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until crispy. Don’t forget about cauliflower: This veggie can be chopped into florets and tossed with turmeric, rosemary, balsamic vinegar and olive oil and roasted for an aromatic and hearty side dish toss the cauliflower with gluten-free pasta for an allergy-friendly, vegetarian main dish.

Looking for a soothing, warm-you-up dish? Soup is a great accompaniment to any holiday meal serve warm butternut squash or pumpkin soup, leek or sweet potato soup with croutons made from gluten-free bread or polenta baked until crisp.

Creating a gluten-free and dairy-free dressing is easier than you think try using a combination of apple cider vinegar, brown rice, quinoa, dried cranberries, roasted vegetables such as carrots and celery and fresh herbs.

What about a gluten-free gravy option? Combine cornstarch or arrowroot with water and chicken stock to make a silky, gluten-free gravy, the perfect topping for your juicy turkey and mashed potatoes.

And for all of you who love a good green bean casserole, my favorite allergy-free substitution is to use coconut milk instead of the usual cream, soy or nut milks.

The Main Course
Ready for allergy-free meats to take center stage this year? When selecting poultry, ham, lamb, fish, pork and even tofu, make sure they are free of any marinade or presoaked sauce, as these could contain allergens. Instead, use olive oil and fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram along with fresh lemon, orange and grapefruit juice and their zest to add flavor. You can easily create an herb rub for your holiday turkey by combining honey with fresh herbs, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Be sure to carefully read labels to ensure your meat or meat alternatives do not contain additives as they may create a reaction among guests with allergies.

There are plenty of ways to satisfy your sweet tooth this year without having to worry about food allergies, and without sacrificing taste. Focus on in-season fruits like apples, pears or cranberries to create fresh fruit crumbles, cobblers and crisps — gluten-free granola makes an easy topping for fruit seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice.

Pumpkin pie is a staple Thanksgiving dessert you can easily create a homemade crust for this holiday must-have with crumbled gluten-free crackers or cereal such as Crunchmaster's Cinnamon & Sugar Grammy Crisps or Attune Foods' Erewhon Buckwheat & Hemp cereal. Pumpkin muffins are a surefire hit, too (if you need a store-bought gluten-free fix, Udi’s muffins are delicious). If you’re making your own, try using tapioca starch and canned pumpkin to create a moist consistency.

Some helpful tips to keep in mind for allergy-free baking: Instead of using eggs, try mixing chia seeds with a little water. 1 egg = 3 tablespoons warm water and 1 tablespoon white chia seed meal mix together and let sit for 5 minutes to thicken before using.

For chocolate lovers, an allergy-free version of chocolate mousse is always a crowd-pleaser whip coconut milk with cocoa and add mashed avocado — use a mixer, or if your avocado is quite ripe, mash it by hand to create a light, whipped consistency. Plain fruit makes for an easy dessert serve fresh pineapple, apples and berries with melted allergy-free chocolate chips from for a fondue-style treat or bake cored apples with cinnamon, dairy-free butter and a dash of allspice. You can create a fun kid-friendly dessert by whipping up your own ice cream waffle sundaes by using gluten-free frozen waffles topped with coconut milk “ice cream,” hot fudge and unsweetened coconut flakes.

What’s the best part about holiday meals? Leftovers! Use turkey, gluten-free stuffing and cranberry sauce to make lunchtime burritos by rolling them in gluten-free tortillas. Top gluten-free pizza dough with chopped turkey, sliced apples and a drizzle of cranberry sauce for a post-Thanksgiving pizza. Shred turkey and add it to frittatas or pile it onto gluten-free toast or bagels with lettuce, tomato, avocado and mustard to make a hearty sandwich. You can even put leftover roasted turkey in the food processor along with fresh arugula, sea salt and pepper for a new spin on a savory spreadable pate you can enjoy with crackers and crudités. Leftovers don’t just have to be reserved for lunch or dinner. How about using your Thanksgiving food for breakfast? Take leftover sweet potatoes or canned pumpkin and combine with gluten-free oatmeal for a spiced-up and naturally sweet hot cereal.

Don’t let your allergies stop you from gobbling up the meals that make your holidays a delicious occasion. No matter the course, crowd or allergy concerns, these foolproof recipes ideas will keep you worry-free this holiday season, it just takes a little prep and planning. Remember, the holidays are about enjoying time and bonding over food with those you love. What better way to do so by preparing an allergy-free feast that will be impossible to forget?

Dress up your special desserts with these fabulous dessert table ideas.

Putting together a special table for desserts for an upcoming party may seem like a daunting task, but it really isn&rsquot.

Just keep these dessert table ideas and tips in mind and planning will be a breeze.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.

1. The Guests matter.

It doesn&rsquot do any good to have a frilly sweets table, if the occasion is a some kind of child&rsquos party. Or perhaps your guests are older, and wild colors may not appeal.

Think of who your guests will be first and then decorate the table with them in mind.

2. Pick a Theme.

What is the occasion? You will want to incorporate the theme of the party into the all aspects of the table, so choosing a theme is very important.

A Halloween desserts table will look very different from one for a Baby shower! Once you know your theme, you&rsquoll be able to coordinate desserts to match that look.

3. Choose your Colors.

After choosing the theme, move to the colors. You will want a cohesive look when you are done. Choose your colors and then work around this with plates, napkins, tablecloth.

Most importantly, make sure the desserts themselves coordinate with your colors if you can. There are lots of ways to bring colors into your desserts themselves for a cohesive look.

4. Add Heights.

Height is essential when you are trying to figure out how to set up a dessert table. This adds interest to the display and allow you to use the tallest placement for your most special desserts.

The dessert table below uses many items to add height to the look of the table. Cake tiers, layer cakes and pedestals all offer an opportunity to add height to the table.

Even the balloons and birdcage seem to be a part of the overall look.

5. Use Levels.

You will keep your guest&rsquos eyes moving over the table if you use levels to take you from table level to the higher displays. This also adds balance and symmetry to the display.

This technique can easily be done by placing dessert plates on overturned bowls of the right color if you don&rsquot want the cost of additional serving dishes of the right height.

You can also add levels with vases of flowers in varying heights. Notice how the eye moves from one level to another on this cluster of Christmas desserts.

6. Pick a Focal Point.

This can either be one really special dessert (such as a tall sheet cake) or a beautiful display of flowers that ties the colors of the table together.

The focal point does not have to be the tallest either. Choose an area where you gaze would naturally linger on.

All of the desserts on this table are lovely to look at, but the tall sheet cake draws the eyes and the flowers on top tie in with the muted colors of the other desserts.

7. Make use of a back drop.

Most dessert tables look best when placed against a wall or background that can be tied into the look of the table. Backgrounds can be created in many ways.

Try using wallpaper, fabric or any number of other resources. Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration.

Even using just a single dessert in front of an interesting backdrop adds a dramatic look to a dessert table.

You don&rsquot need to spend a lot of money on this either. This simple look is very effective and just uses some soft cloth in back and a wood slice to showcase the cake and drink.

8. Be Creative with Desserts.

No matter how well you decorate your dessert table, if you just have a few brownies, or chocolate chip cookies, it is not going to look special.

If you try to be a little more creative with your dessert table set up, you&rsquoll end up with a more professional look that will wow your guests.

Try serving cupcakes with fancy cupcake wrappers, home made truffles covered in sprinkles, personalized cookies, pretty petit fours, specialty candy and other creative treats.

Decorate the top of cakes or cupcakes in a special way for a delightful look.

Tapas to Purchase

Round out your menu with as many items from this list as it will take to feed your guests. A good rule of thumb is to have 2-3 dishes for every 4 guests. Make sure your menu includes at least one fish or shellfish, one cheese or meat, and one vegetable dish, and a huge basket of crusty bread slices.

  • Charcuterie platter: Choose 2 or more of the following Spanish cured meats or sausages: jamón serrano (cured ham), lomo embuchado (dried cured pork loin), chorizo, salami, cecina (salt cured beef). Bring to room temperature 20 minutes before eating. Add thinly sliced cantaloupe.
  • Cheese platter: Choose 3 or more of the following Spanish cheeses: manchego (classic Spanish sheep&aposs milk cheese), cabrales (blue cheese), mahon (a sweet, creamy cow&aposs milk cheese from Menorca), roncal (sheep&aposs milk), garrotxa (goat&aposs milk cheese). Add thin slices of quince preserve (found in specialty stores).
  • Mixed marinated olives
  • Smoked almonds
  • Dried cherries
  • Platter of oil-packed fish like anchovies, sardines or tuna. Add chopped chives and pickled peppers.
  • Mixed pickled vegetables
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Olive tapenade

These Easy Recipes Will Make Your Next Pool Party a Breeze

Everything will go just swimmingly with these creative ideas!

Related To:

Summertime pool parties are a great way to beat the heat, but hosting one can present plenty of challenges. From warding off bugs to keeping everything chilled and free of pool water (nobody likes soggy potato chips) throwing a backyard bash requires some planning ahead.

Don't worry, though. It is possible to create a menu that meets the needs of those swimming in the kiddie pool or diving into the deep end. Here are some foolproof ideas for throwing the best pool party of the summer. Let's dive in!

On a hot summer day, the last thing you want to do is get out of your unicorn pool float to get a snack. That's where this floating cooler and snack bar comes in! If you want the noshes to come to you, attach a remote-control boat to move your snack bar. Just make sure everyone gets a turn with the remote.

Keep everyone cool with a refreshing twist on a Tequila Sunrise. Hollow out watermelons to make kegs and use the juice to create an ombre cocktail. Your guests will love pouring themselves a drink from this creative keg as much as they will enjoy this fruity mixture.

After a full day in the sun, there's nothing more satisfying than biting into a refreshing piece of watermelon to help you cool off. Giada De Laurentiis makes this adult fruit salad using fresh mint, lemon juice and amaretto. This light vinaigrette is then used to coat beautifully scooped watermelon and cantaloupe balls. If you want to keep this fork free, try skewering the melon balls to make fruit kebobs.

The Kitchen hosts make a Watermelon Grill, as seen on The Kitchen, Season 17.

Feeling a bit crafty? Take fruit salad to the next level by transforming it into a watermelon grill! Fill it up with blackberries and raspberries to represent the coals , then cook up some watermelon and feta skewers on your newly carved grill for a fun twist on a summer favorite.

Food Network Kitchen's Beef Sliders for a Crowd For Food Network

Photo by: Alice Gao ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Alice Gao, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Need to feed a crowd that has worked up an appetite swimming laps in the pool? This press-in-a-pan slider recipe will help you feed the masses without standing in front of a grill for hours. Prepare the meat mixture and press it onto a cookie sheet a few hours before your party, refrigerate and cook just before the crowds show up! To serve, wrap one end of the burger in a piece of wax paper to keep your burger buns from getting soggy from pool hands!

Ina Garten's fresh corn salad requires seven ingredients and hardly any prep time. Blanch the corn in ice water to stop the cooking process and to keep your corn a beautiful sunny yellow color. Serve this dish chilled or at room temperature either way your guest are sure to enjoy it.

Your rehearsal dinner shouldn't compete with the actual wedding. However, that doesn't mean it should be devoid of things like delicious food and fun touches! Instead, it should complement or supplement your nuptials. Treat the celebration as a pre-party, where guests leave craving more&mdashand lucky for them, you're going to deliver the next day. Here, the ins and outs of pulling off a memorable, mood-setting evening. We've rounded up a list of all the elements that can contribute to having the best rehearsal dinner ever.

Our comprehensive guide covers all the bases, from etiquette tips to décor suggestions and everything in between. If you're wondering who to invite, we've got some guest list advice. If you need menu ideas, there are those, too. Seriously, we've touched on every piece of the puzzle&mdashrehearsal dinner toasts, attire, and activities included. We'll also help you make decisions, like when to start your party and where to host it. Basically, consider this your ultimate rehearsal dinner checklist. We've outlined exactly what you need to throw an event your guests won't just enjoy but appreciate before they head into the big day.

Ahead, you'll find that a great rehearsal dinner includes personal details, creative entertainment, and a few traditions sprinkled into the mix. It's also about accommodating your nearest and dearest, which is a foolproof way to show how much they really mean to you. To learn more about what it takes to really impress on the night before your wedding, consult the following slides.

Midori Berry Bliss Punch

The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

With its brilliant green color, the Midori berry bliss is a showstopper. It has a captivating flavor combination of melon, vanilla, raspberry, and pineapple. Add a little soda or sparkling wine and you have the perfect bubbly drink for a crowd.

Best ever platter recipes for an impressive dinner party spread

Mix and match from our best ever delicious platter recipes to create your very own (and very tasty) impressive dinner party spread. Don't be afraid to increase the quantities, all these recipes can be customised to suit the number of guests you're hosting

Published: October 3, 2016 at 2:09 pm


Gravadlax is a real show-stopping centrepiece for any occasion. Making this Scandi classic is easier than you think with this step-by-step video from olive’s test kitchen.

Beer cheese

The addictive dish from Montreal restaurant, Joe Beef, works both as a snack to go with beer or as a starter. It’s super fun to make (we’ve even made an video to show you how), and can be prepared in just 20 minutes! Stock up on blue cheese, quark, soft cheese, pilsner beer and garlic for this recipe.

Pork belly skewers with Vietnamese caramel sauce

Incorporate a taste of the orient into your dinner party spread with these easy pork belly skewers with Vietnamese caramel sauce.

Kale hush puppies with lemon aïoli

Hush puppies are little American savoury doughnuts in a polenta batter. A classic side dish for seafood, they are also great for parties. These vegetarian kale ones are eaten with an aioli dip.

Gruyere and cider fondue

A twist on the classic Swiss fondue which uses dry cider instead of wine. Great for a party or as an easy sharing starter for friends. Not sure how to make the perfect fondue? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered (plus more recipe suggestions)…

Fig with gorgonzola and walnut

An absolute classic flavour combination, these figgy gorgonzola bites are just the ticket for a Christmas party or New Year’s nibble. One of our favourite vegetarian canapés, and great with a good glass of red.

Oysters with ginger Japanese dressing

Hosting a very classy get together? Then this oyster recipe is for you. Salmon roe is available in fishmongers and supermarkets, or look for tobiko (smaller eggs) in Japanese shops and from

Venison carpaccio with pickled red cabbage

A lovely restaurant-standard winter sharing platter idea of paper-thin slices of venison marinated with herbs and served with a red cabbage salad and a Parmesan, olive oil and lemon dressing. A wonderful way to kick off to a posh dinner!

Warm olives with pickled lemon and fennel

This recipe makes a quick but impressive snack to serve with drinks. Heating the olives makes them absorb more flavour without having to marinade them for ages.

Grilled padron peppers and chorizo skewers with honey drizzle

These sticky grilled padron peppers and chorizo skewers with honey drizzle make the perfect starter or finger food to serve with drinks. What’s more, they’re super quick and easy to make.

Tomato and pesto tart

Cut this super simple tomato and pesto tart into bitesize slices to turn it into the ultimate sharing food. Using ready-rolled puff pastry makes the cooking even easier.

Fried aubergine sticks with sumac and honey

Easy aubergine sticks: designed to impress your friends and family as a quick dinner-party starter, or as part of a dinner party spread. With a minty yogurt dip, this Mediterranean-inspired recipe with sumac and za’atar just needs a drizzle of honey to finish it off.

Fig and goat’s cheese puffs

The easiest party finger food, ready in half an hour – ready made puff pastry topped with goat’s cheese and pretty figs makes perfect nibbles.

Tsukune with Japanese-style quinoa

Peruvian/Japanese fusion food is called Nikkei and this recipe for tsukune with Japanese-style quinoa is a great, easy way to try it at home. Leave out the quinoa to make these into a portable easy-to-mingle-with snack.

Smoked salmon pancakes with lemon and caper crème fraîche

Looking for a tasty appetiser to hand round at your next gathering? Chive pancakes are topped with smoked salmon, lemon, nonpareil capers and dill crème fraîche in this easy recipe.

Spiralized summer rolls

Spiralized veg takes the place of noodles in these super-healthy, Vietnamese-style vegan rolls. They’ll add a spot of lively colour to your posh table spread.


Got 10 minutes to spare? Ditch the jar and make your own Provençal tapenade instead. Spread over mini toasted baguette slices to serve them to your hungry guests.

Quails’ eggs with pink peppercorn salt

These quail’s eggs with pink peppercorn salt make for stylish-looking canapés for your next party. Leave a bit of the speckled shell on to serve for a more interesting look.

Griddled nectarines with frozen yogurt and honeyed pistachios

This low calorie recipe for griddled nectarines with frozen yogurt and honeyed pistachios makes for an easy, speedy and sweet nibble. Increase the recipe quantities to suit the number of guests attending your soirée.

Bermondsey bombs

Pork mince wrapped in mash makes an easy nibble that’s coated in breadcrumbs and served with spicy tomato sauce and aïoli. It’s the creation of genius Spanish chef Jose Pizarro who has a tapas bar and restaurant on Bermondsey Street, London.

Posh hummus

This poshed-up hummus with tomatoes and spring onion tastes so much better than shop-bought. Serve as a dip with some hot pita bread or freshly sliced crunchy veg.

Crab crostini

Light and delicate crab crostini make perfect canapés for drinks parties. Make the crab mix and toast the baguette ahead, but don’t assemble until ready to eat as the bread will become soggy.

Vegan quinoa sushi

Cut the costs and impress your guests with these homemade sushi rolls. No one will even realise that they’re vegan – unless you tell them of course! We’ve stuff these full of avocado, carrot and pepper but if you’re feeling adventurous, go freestyle and mix it up.

Bacon-wrapped dates with quince marmalade

This recipe for bacon-wrapped dates with quince marmalade comes from Dan Doherty of Duck & Waffle and makes for a great festive canapé when you have guests over. They look really impressive but are actually very easy to make.

Ibérico, manchego and rocket bites

A super sophisticated party nibble, or canapé for a dinner party. We all know how well Ibérico ham and manchego ham go together – add rocket for extra punch, and serve alongside a glass (or two) of fizz.