Welcome to my Holiday Series, where I am sharing tips for hosting impressive dinner parties. I'm excited to introduce you to Miranda & Kate, the creators of the food & lifestyle blog A Party With Us. I had the chance to attend one of their events in Philadelphia this year at Williams-Sonoma. These ladies create delicious recipes and cocktails that they share on their blog. I wanted to take the opportunity to ask them to share their tips and suggestions for hosting dinner parties this holiday season.
Sabine: Tell us about yourselves.
Kate: Hi! We're Kate & Miranda the bloggers behind A Party With Us (APWU). Miranda and I are sister-in-laws and best friends. We love to entertain - prepping, primping and partying is our forte. From the planning to the decor, to the recipes, we love to put it all together and dazzle our friends and family. Our blog features our very own recipes and designs.
Sabine: As hostess experts, what are some ways someone hosting can greet their guests once they arrive to the dinner party?
Miranda: Definitely with a beverage and it doesn't necessarily have to be alcoholic, but offering your guests water, tea, coffee, or a specialty cocktail you have planned right away is always a nice touch. When confirming plans with my guests leading up to the event, I ask what they like to drink - wine, liquor, beer, etc., then I plan accordingly to match their tastes with my menu. While you're at it, ask about allergies and strong adversities to any foods they may have. #hostesshacks
Kate: Upon arrival, we also like to share the menu plan with our guests (to get them super excited about it, haha!), and, if you're serving meat (like a filet, burger, etc.), ask your guests at what temperature they prefer it be prepared.
Sabine: Sometimes creating a guest list can be hard to edit. How do you determine how many guests to invite? What is a good number of guests or is it based on the size of the home?
Kate: Guest lists can be stressful - so first think about the atmosphere you're trying to create and what you're celebrating. Do you want an intimate setting, a lively gathering or a really festive event? Miranda and I have entertained groups as large as 100 people to just 4 people in our homes, and around the holidays we always say 'the more the merrier' but that changes our menu selections drastically!
Miranda: You need to consider how much your kitchen can handle (literally think about your refrigerator, oven and stove space!) and how many people you can seat comfortably. If you're hosting a festive cocktail party, you can invite more guests because you do not need a seat for everyone, but if you're inviting a group over for formal dinner, you should probably have a place setting and comfortable and inclusive seating for everyone. Meaning, you don't want your party to feel disjointed with some people sitting in the living room and others in the dining room for a formal dinner. Stick to the number you can fit at your table for a dinner party.
Sabine: Buffet Style, Family Style or Sit Down Style? What's your preference?
Miranda: Again, this depends on the atmosphere we're going for. I love a sit-down dinner where I can plate and serve courses at the right temperature and time, as I truly enjoy creating a culinary experience for my guests, but if it's New Year's Eve and everyone has a drink in their hand, then I want to be in the center of that socializing with everyone and allow people to graze on appetizers from a buffet setting as they please!
"...there is no science to entertaining, it's an art!" - Kate Brewer
Sabine: If someone is hosting a large dinner party at their home, what's the best way to set up the food and a proper layout where guests feel comfortable?
Miranda: For a large sit-down dinner party, we would have beverages and appetizers ready to be served when guests arrive - typically on serving trays in a casual seating/gathering area and away from the main dining table so we could migrate there for dinner. The dining table should be pre-set before your guests arrive so you're not distracted by that while entertaining. Anything that can be prepped ahead of time for dinner should be - you'll thank yourself later!
Kate: You want to create a nice pace between appetizers, dinner courses, and dessert. The most important thing is: if you're comfortable and relaxed, your guests will be too... there is no science to entertaining, it's an art! If you look stressed, your guests might feel awkward. Prep and primp as much as possible ahead of time so you too can enjoy the party!
Sabine: From your blog what are some of your favorite recipes to serve as appetizers and desserts?
Kate: I love our Whipped Goat Cheese Crostini and the Bacon Dusted Scallops - they are both serious crowd pleasers.
Miranda: Hands-down our original Shortbread Brie Brûlée with Cranberry Compote is the best dessert on the blog at the moment. It's to-die-for and we served it at Thanksgiving this year!
Sabine: I see that you share some delicious cocktails on your blog as well. What are some easy cocktail and food pairings that someone can serve at their next dinner party?
Miranda: While we love to match our cocktails with food, people's palates vary so greatly among our family and friends. Generally speaking, we like our flavors to compliment one another. Don't opt for all sweet cocktails and apps or all spicy cocktails and apps. For instance, we would serve a refreshing Pineapple Cucumber Martini or our G-Squared Margarita with our Mango-Jalapeno Crab Salad OR a Berry Bourbon Smash with our Mushroom Pinwheels or Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs with Honey Drizzle. Right now our Pumpkin Spice Martini is sounding perfect for dessert, ha! You can follow us @apartywithus to keep up with the recipes we'll be posting this season!
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À la prochaine,