Blogger and cookbook author Erin Gleeson shares tips for hosting a last-minute dinner party, including an easy-to-make menu.
By Emily Arno
Since she is unequivocally gifted in the art of effortlessness, we asked Gleeson to spill the beans on how to manage a hostess’s worst nightmare—throwing together an impromptu dinner party in under an hour. She gleefully agreed, and in the following guide, she details a last-minute gathering requiring minimal effort, and serving up maximum fun. Gleeson even includes a menu of her signature illustrated recipes found in The Forest Feast.
First off, pour yourself a glass of wine, and remember that this is fun! And if you’re not done getting ready when guests arrive, remember people are always happy to help.
Before guests arrive:
- If you don’t have time to set the table, arrange stacks of plates and a stack of napkins either in the center of the table or on a buffet table, and put all the silverware in glasses (one for forks, one for knives, etc..)
- Set out a candle or two on the table—this will make things feel festive and like a “real” occasion without much effort. If you don’t have fresh flowers, put a small plant on the table with the candles.
- Set out appetizers—see a few simple suggestions below.
What to make:
- For dinner, serve everything family style, or as a buffet. If I’m limited on time, I try to choose dishes that require minimal cooking.
- Put beer and wine out on the buffet table if you have time, but really, these can stay in the fridge. People will be happy to help themselves if you tell them where things are. Have the first guest to arrive open bottles of wine and light candles on the table.
- The easiest appetizers are simple cheese plates with crackers, pickles, olives, fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts
- Serve fresh radishes with butter and sea salt. You don’t even have to put the butter and salt on—just have them in little dishes on the side.
Get a nice rustic loaf of French bread or baguette and serve it on a cutting board on the table with butter. You can also make an olive oil dipping sauce for the bread by simply putting olive oil, salt and dried herbs in a little serving bowl.