Guest Post: Themed Gourmet Dinner Parties - Start from Scratch with a Great Grocery List

One of the most overwhelming aspects of throwing a dinner party for a group of foodies is staying on track. With so many amazing recipes and ingredients to choose from, walking into the grocery store empty handed can mean walking out with most of the store in-tow. Pick a theme, design the menu around that theme and head to the store with a well-crafted grocery list to get everything off to a smooth start.

Italian, Mediterranean, and Mexican dishes are both utterly fulfilling yet easy, using single ingredients in multiple dishes and sides.

Imagine the layout of your grocery store when composing the grocery list and try to write the list of ingredients to follow the flow of the store so you’re not scuttling back and forth tracking down forgotten items.

If you can prepare salsas, dips, dressings, desserts and appetizers earlier in the day or even the day before you will be free to welcome your guests, get their drinks started and facilitate introductions between guests.

Pick a main course that can cook till all of the guests arrive, and not suffer from staying on low heat for an hour or two while your party works its way through the appetizers and salad course. Things that need to be watched while on the stove should be avoided, like individually pan seared proteins or dairy based sauces that can scorch if left unattended. Timelines at dinner parties need to be flexible.

Ethnic themed parties are easiest served buffet style that way people can load up what they want and you don’t have to worry about taking the time to plate dishes. And in some cases like Mexican and Mediterranean some of the dips used for appetizers are also used with the main course. Giving people the freedom to load their own plates can result in some fantastic customizations!

Once everyone has finished with dinner, it is time to linger over dessert and coffee. A lot of desserts can be made completely in advance, like cheesecakes, mousses and tarts. Crème Brûlée and fried ice cream take only a few minutes to dress if the prep work is done in advance, or a bread pudding can be put in the oven at the start of dinner to be ready to go when it’s time for dessert. Sticking with the theme is less important here; it’s more about time and attention.

No matter which theme you choose, sticking to some kind of genre to keep the grocery list organized and manageable is your best bet. Trying to take on too many flavors at once can overwhelm and create space and time obstacles during prep and service. Plus, if you go with a theme you can get creative with fun cocktails and decorations!

-Sean K.

I can't believe it is December already!! Where has the year gone? It certainly has flown by and way too quickly. We tend to have more parties around this time of year, so I was happy to have a guest post giving us all some tips for throwing a successful themed dinner party. So now I'm asking you, do you have any great tips or recipes to share? Add it in the comment section.

Happy party organizing!



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