Incredibly minimal stress. Super awesome results.
If you are new to dinner parties, this is the way to jump in. This step-by-step guide will walk you from “Hmmm…. I am free this Saturday…maybe I should have some friends over” to “Wow – everyone is having such a great time!”
To handle all of your planning, shopping and cooking in such a short amount of time, I’ll be posting 10 minute menus and shopping guides all week. They take the stress out of hosting. Easy menus and buffet-style dinners are the perfect way to build your party hosting prowess.
To your success!
5 minutes: Planning
A little planning goes a long way in terms of saving time. Since the ten minute menus are all laid out for you, you can concentrate on bringing together the party guests.
How to Invite People
Pick your poison: text, email, twitter, or an announcement over lunch with your office mates. The fastest way to invite people to dinner is in one foul swoop.
Start with your favorite 6-8 friends or 3-4 couples. You need to invite some extra guests because there will always be people who have prior commitments and can’t make it. To maximize attendance, get your invite out 5-7 days before the dinner.
To cut down on unnecessary back and forth, make sure that the day and time are listed clearly in your communication. I find that putting them in bold can really help; sometimes people misread things or confuse the information with something else they just read.
- If some of your invitees haven’t been to your house, it is great to include parking tips and directions as well.
- If you don’t already know, ask your guests if they have any food restrictions.
10 minutes: Shopping
Grocery shopping can often take a whole lot more than ten minutes. But I never spend more than five on the night of a dinner party.
Stick to your list, stay focused, and make use of the 10 items or less checkout aisle, and your shopping will be a breeze. Having a well-stocked pantry also makes a world of difference.
Shop Early (if possible)
I always recommend doing shopping the day (or weekend or the morning) before your dinner if you can, for a number of reasons:
- There is nothing worse than finding out you can’t get an ingredient you need the night of your party that. Or that it is only available frozen and you don’t have time to thaw it.
- If you get stuck at work and leave late, having the shopping already done can give you a little cushion in your time line.
- Having to go to the grocery store on the way home can really up your panic level, particularly if there is traffic on the roads. When you are stressed, cooking will take longer because you are jittery and don’t focus as well.
For the most part, I have written these ten minute meals so that you can even get the ingredients at CVS (or RiteAid or whatever your local drug store is called). Convenience stores these days have pretty large grocery sections, so if you work in a city, you can even get your shopping done while you are out grabbing your mid-morning coffee.
- Compile a guest list so you know how many people you are cooking for and any important food restrictions.
- Print out your shopping list or make it available on your smart phone for quick reference.
- Go to a store that you know the layout of. It will seriously cut down your shopping time if you don’t have to spend five minutes wandering around wondering where the canned beans are.
10 minutes: Cooking
Each day this week, I’ll post a new 10 minute menu. Each will include a full shopping list and cooking time line designed to make 10 minute dinners a reality in your house.
- Tuesday: Fajita Bar
- Wednesday: Tomato Fest
- Thursday: Spanish Tapas
- Friday: Indian Spread
5 minutes: Cleaning + Set-up
Cleaning and rearranging are the single most important things to do before guests arrive. Cooking can always be finished in the company of your friends.
My Five Minute Party Tidying Plan
Bathroom: wipe surfaces, stock toilet paper, close shower curtain
Dining room: remove clutter from table, wipe surface, pull out leaves and lengthen dining table if needed
Living room: clear coffee table, set with wine glasses, bottle opener, and hors d’oeuvres
Kitchen: tidy counter (as much as possible) by putting dishes in sink and leftover ingredients in fridge or cabinets
As long as your house (or at least living areas) aren’t a complete disaster, you don’t really need more time than this to get ready for a party. If you haven’t swept or vacuumed in a while, then you should probably do that the day before the party. But honestly, my floors are always much dirtier after dinners than before, so I usually save sweeping and vacuuming for the clean-up.
Relax. Converse. Enjoy!
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