One of our favorite ways to prep for a dinner party is by doing nothing at all. Sure there's still household chores to be done, but when it comes to preparing dishes and prepping ingredients, why bother — throw a "Bring Your Own Ingredient Party." It's the most fun you can have at a dinner party (without dancing on the table) and always keeps things fresh and lively. The best part about throwing a party of this nature is the element of surprise. If you're one of those folks that has to have every detail planned down to the second it will occur, this probably isn't the easiest idea for you to wrap your mind around, but it can still be done! Here's a few tips on throwing this mystery style bash without losing your mind, or sending your guests home hungry:
• Have An Early Arrival Time: Although time is quite precious these days and we might not have all night to spend at a friends house, we're pretty sure that with enough advance notice, friends and family will be able to plan around an early start time. Having things kick off at say, 4:30-5:00 gives people time to show up, chat a few minutes and then assess the situation.
• Pair Guests Into Teams: Yes, this means you'll be turning your kitchen over to others to do some work, but this way, everyone gets a chance to cook and you won't spend all night away from your guests. A little advance thinking goes along way on this one, if you have friends who don't (or can't) cook, pairing them with someone who does it always a bonus. If you want, make it all a surprise and have them draw straws or numbers for who's up first!
• Ask Guests To Bring Foods From Specific Food Groups: Although this spoils some element of surprise, it will ensure that you don't end up with a kitchen table full of proteins and zero vegetables.
• Have Them RSVP Their Ingredient: Although this defeats the point of everything being super spontaneous, it can give peace of mind to those who feel they need a little more control. All the ingredients will still be a surprise to all those in attendance, but knowing ahead of time what people might bring gives you the power to brainstorm just a little when it comes to assembly or even missing ingredients that could happen to be on hand to help out.
• Have Snacks Ready To Go: As people start to trickle into your party, have small snacks ready to go, it doesn't have to be anything fancy, but just in case your first dishes are slow coming out of the kitchen, you won't have hungry people!
It's not as scary as it sounds and can be a great way to truly interact with your company instead of merely approaching surface topics. We all know the good dirt and friendships are made over the cutting board and the preparation of a good meal!
• Related: Easy Entertaining: Throwing a Spontaneous Dinner Party
(Image: Flickr member eefekt! licensed for use under Creative Commons)