4 Ways to Reinvent the Dinner Party

Who has the time to warm plates, cook five plus hours in advance and prepare formal invitations? Not us.

But just because the old-fashioned idea of the dinner party is dead doesn’t mean the idea behind it has to go down, too.

“This is old school social networking,” said Tracey Doull, founder of Kitchen Moxie, in a press release. “Welcoming friends into your home, opening up your heart and mixing it up over good food and drink is what the art of the dinner party is all about.”

Through Kitchen Moxie, Doull aims to bring back the idea of a formal dinner party, but tweaks it to fit in with our hectic lifestyles.

Hosting a casual dinner party at your home not only saves money, but it’s also intimate, comfortable, and you can hook up your own playlist or get some fun party games going during cocktail hour.

Next time you and a group of friends decide to go out for dinner, offer to host a fun—but not-so-formal—dinner party to keep the tradition alive without a ton of work.

Grown-Up Pizza Party

When you think of a dinner party with friends, a pizza party probably doesn’t come to mind. However, Danielle Rollins, author of “Soiree: Entertaining with Style” shares in her new book how to do it with a little more elegance.

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Cover a long table in a rustic burlap tablecloth topped with black-and-white gingham fabric. Display pizzas, homemade or carry-out, on wooden peels, and put out herbs and spices in bowls for seasoning. Set out big bowls of salad, and in her book Rollins recommends pairing the food with inexpensive Italian table wines.

Progressive Dinner Party 

This is the dinner that everyone talks about, but the closest we’ve come to doing it is watching it on “Desperate Housewives.”

Get together a group of friends who live close by, and assign one course to each house. The first stop is drinks and appetizers, the second is salad, the third is the main course, fourth dessert and coffee, etc. This way, you’re only committing to hosting one course for maybe 30-45 minutes.

Although this dinner party idea has been around since the 50s, it’s more popular than ever and was even featured on an episode of “Top Chef” last season.

Build-Your-Own-Pasta Bar

If you plan on hosting the whole dinner, but aren’t sure what to cook to please everyone, a build-your-own-pasta bar is fun and easy.

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Cook up a few different types of pasta (spaghetti, penne, tri-color rotini, etc.) and three or four sauce options (marinara, alfredo, olive oil, vodka sauce, etc.). Set up the ingredients so your guests can come through a line and design their own creations.

Don’t forget bowls of meatballs, roasted chicken, veggies, Parmesan and other toppings. Keep the wine simple—an Italian white and red will please everyone. The serve-yourself element lends to a laid back environment and takes away the pressure of presentation.

This same idea works great as a taco bar. Serve with pre-made Skinny Girl or Jose Cuervo Light margaritas and you’re in business. Olé!

Book Club Party

Want a way to get your busy girlfriends together once a month? Start a book club with a dinner party as your meeting. Choose a book to read at the beginning of the month and discuss it over a full-on meal. Rotate whose house the party is at each time. You’ll hopefully get a good read and have a set date with friends every month.

With this party idea, it’s completely acceptable to go the easy route and order sushi. However, if you have some time to spare, it’s encouraged to incorporate elements from the book into your menu. If you’re finishing the “50 Shades” series, start the night off with a fine red wine (or champagne), serve up a few oysters and end with bowls of “vanilla” ice cream. Simple and good conversation starters!

If you’re rereading “The Great Gatsby” to prepare for the big movie release this May, Rollins suggests a larger-scale Gatsby Lawn Party theme. Serve St. Germain lemonade cocktails and Victorian iced sorbet. Encourage guests to dress in period attire to bring this party to life.

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“If you can really get your partner or spouse excited about going to a party, you have a better time,” Rollins says. So pick out a cool seersucker suit for your husband and brainstorm ways to get creative with your look to make the most of the night.