Relax and enjoy hosting your friends with these casual dinner party menu ideas. With a little planning, you can create a relaxed and easy dinner party for you and your friends.
Why have a casual dinner party?
In our fast-paced world, we all need to intentionally take time to sit down with friends and family to enjoy a slow-paced meal filled with conversation and encouragement. The importance is on spending time with others, so I share a few basic steps and menu ideas to throw a casual dinner party easily to take the stress out of hosting.
The goal is to keep your menu simple. Choose a menu that doesn’t require a lot of late prep work or last-minute cooking. It’s a good idea to try and choose recipes that can be made ahead of time and heated up just before guests arrive.
Tips for preparing your dinner party ahead
Keep yourself out of the kitchen when guests arrive with these few simple tips.
Cook as many items ahead of time as you can.
Wash and chop and slice veggies and fruits the day before. Keep them in an air-tight container with a damp paper towel. This will free up your time just before dinner.
Shred any cheese you might need and store in a zip-lock type bad in the fridge.
If you are serving baked goods, you can make them a week in advance and freeze them. Just allow them to thaw and slightly warm them before serving.
Prepare any sauces or dressings ahead of time. Store in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator.
Set the table the day before, and get out any serving dishes and utensils you might need.
Arrange a drink station or coffee bar the day before.
Splurge and prepare your food in disposable pans if possible. This will allow for quick clean-up after the meal so you can spend more time with your guest.
Dinner party decor ideas
Remember this is a casual dinner, so no fuss decorations are expected. Use a disposable table cloth or a simple runner down the center of your table. I have found some beautiful paper place settings that are beautiful but, more importantly, disposable. This will make clean-up a breeze and gives you more time to enjoy with your guest.
For your centerpiece, you could pick up a fresh bouquet of flowers from your local grocery store or use clippings from your yard. Combine some green plants with herbs to delight both the sense of seeing and smell. If it’s winter, then purchase some whole lemons. Place them in a bowl and mix in between the lemons some fresh kale leaves.
Just before your guests arrive
If it’s dark, remember to turn on your porch and walkway lights.
Have a designated area for your guest to hang their coats.
Plugin your diffuser or light some scented candles.
Turn lights on in all the rooms you will be entertaining in.
Turn on some mood music. Try creating a playlist that your guest will enjoy.
Do one last check on your food.
When guests arrive
Once your dinner guests arrive, relax and enjoy yourself! This helps everyone else relax and feel welcomed. I like to ask my guest to help bring out the food or prepare their own drinks. This makes them feel at home and relaxed. Most importantly, don’t worry if things don’t go as you planned. Your focus is on a casual dinner with friends, enjoying good conversation, and making memories.
Easy dinner recipes you can make ahead
Remember, the goal is to have a no-fuss casual dinner party focused on good food and great conversations.
Easy Mexican dinner menu
Have a Mexican-themed dinner. Appetizers can be simple chips and Green Tomato Salsa Verde, which you can make the day before. If it’s soup weather, then make a batch of Mexican Vegan Tomato Soup. Heat just before dinner and serve with cheese or crushed tortilla chips and avocado slices. You can make this Nacho Casserole the day before and cook it just before guests arrive.
This recipe for oven baked meatballs is an easy weeknight dinner. The meatballs are made with ground turkey, a combination of spices and a few other basic ingredients. The meatballs are baked in the oven until tender and topped with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Instant Pot Roast Beef and Lots of Gravy is a quick and easy main dish to cook in your instant pot. Wrap some large potatoes in foil and pop them in the oven an hour before your guest arrives. Serve the roast beef and gravy over the baked potatoes, or if mashed potatoes are more your style, try these Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes. Add roasted veggies or a side salad, and you have a hearty homecooked meal to serve.
Instant Pot Salsa Chicken (Keto Friendly)
Instant Pot Salsa Chicken is a quick and easy keto recipe. Healthy low carb electric pressure cooker recipe with just 5 net grams of carbs.
This old-fashioned holiday favorite, Blackstrap Molasses Cookie recipe makes a soft and chewy cookie that has warm spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. With a few simple tips, you will have a soft chewy textured molasses cookie every time.
This pudding mix Pistachio CookiesRecipe features a soft, chewy cookie, bits of crunchy pistachios, sweet dried cranberries, and a hint of almond. This easy cookie recipe is sure to become a family favorite.
Easy to make, soft oatmeal cookie sandwiches filled with a layer of yummy fluffy white frosting will evoke sweet memories of the special snack cake, Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies, your mother tucked into your lunch box.
Serve up thick, soft and chewy peanut butter cookies without egg for a healthy cookie everyone will love. These easy cookies are gluten-free and vegan but packed with sweet peanut butter flavor to please the taste buds!
Julia, from Jul's Kitchen, the famous Italian chef, teaches you everything you need to know to make Authentic Italian Almond Biscotti with this recipe. It's a classic Italian biscotti with a hint of citrus and almond flavor in a sweet, crisp cookie-like stick that turns out perfect every time.
When sweaters go on then it’s time to make this low-calorie perfectly wonderful Autumn Spiced Mocktail. Low-calorie cranberry juice is simmered with fresh ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and sliced granny smith apples to create a mocktail that is a sure crowd-pleaser for young and old.