So maybe I’ve been holding on to this post for a little while. I had my birthday dinner party almost a month ago now, but have had too many other things to share with you guys… so I’ve waited on this one! This is my second year hosting a small dinner party with girlfriends for my birthday (check out my first one here)- and I can see me doing it again next year, it’s so fun! I know I’ve said it before, but I love a good party. And I think dinner parties are my new favourite type of party because of the quality conversation that you get to enjoy around a dinner table. This year I took that one step further and created fun conversation starters or table topics to have at each place setting to get the conversation rolling. That’s what those pretty little floral cards are by the wine glasses. I’ll be sharing the print file for those in the next few weeks!
I’ve had a few people tell me I’m nuts for wanting to have people over and feed them for my birthday- shouldn’t I let someone else do that? But I love to host and decorate, this is what I enjoy. AND really, I didn’t do all the work. I actually invited the girls over to cook dinner with me. We got a bit of a late start, but I love cooking with friends. In university, some friends and I used to have ‘cook nights’ where we would hit the grocery store with recipes we wanted to try and then spend the night cooking all those new foods. Preparing food together just makes for good company. One thing I’ve found, and totally forgot to do until the party was starting, is that by writing the recipes out on nice paper, you can hand each person a recipe card so there’s less time asking questions about what to do and more time to have fun conversation.
And what we cooked… so delicious! I know I don’t blog about food too much (thank goodness we have some awesome recipe contributors!) but I really do love cooking- just not slow while taking pictures. If you’re looking for some new recipes, I can’t say enough good things about this chicken piccatta recipe which we served over this asparagus risotto recipe. And I know that risotto can be intimidating (I actually love making it) but dinner parties are the perfect time to try it, because you’ll be standing around the kitchen visiting anyways so stirring it won’t be a pain (like when you’re home alone and would rather be sitting on the couch catching up on Survivor). We also started off with a few bruschettas. My favourite was this simple mushroom bruschetta or this beet bruschetta… but we also did a classic bruschetta (recipe from memory) and a pea bruschetta. I like to serve bruschetta with a mixture of cream cheese and goat cheese (about half and half) and I’m not shy in how I load it onto the bread! We had those to snack on while the chicken cooked and I ate way too much- I just couldn’t stop.
For decorations, I didn’t want to spend too much time preparing. My mom and sister came over in the afternoon to entertain the kids and help get things on the table (and clean my kitchen if we’re being real). For each place setting, I tied napkins with velvet ribbon holding a few quail feathers (you can grab a pack of these at the dollar store) and a sprig of seeded eucalyptus before finishing it off with a hand lettered name card. I lettered these on craft paper, then cut and folded them into banners. The centrepiece was a collection of seeded eucalyptus (left long to trail out of the small containers), eucalyptus, baby’s breath, thistle, and dusty miller. Yep, a lot of the same elements as my spooky halloween arrangement! But not spooky when put in little patina cream and sugars. And if you head to a large florist, you’ll find that buying pieces like this by the stem is going to give you a much more affordable arrangement than even hitting the grocery store! Brass candlesticks finished off the tablescape and added height to the otherwise low centrepiece. The only thing I wish? Is that I had gold… or copper cutlery. But I know it’s not needed, so that will wait ;)
While I used decor that I already had (other than the greens), there’s one thing I can’t seem to keep myself from buying for dinner parties. Tablecloths! I’m addicted. I really don’t like my dining table, so I always cover it. Since I was holding on to this one for my birthday, I skipped buying a new one for Friendsgiving this year (did you see my solution instead!?) but most dinner parties get one. I actually don’t go and buy table cloths most of the time though. I like to ‘make’ them. I head to the fabric store and go all the way to the discount section at the back and look in home decor fabrics (they’re the longer rolls) for something I love. 2 Meters of fabric, always priced under $5 a meter… it’s the best deal on a tablecloth you’re going to find. That’s what I did for this plaid one and this crushed velvet look one and this floral one… see I can’t help myself!
So tell me… do you love a good dinner party? What’s your best tips to keep them fun for you as the host? What about for decorations? I spilled my secrets, let’s hear yours!