To kick off our Gatherings from The Kitchn series for 2014, I decided to throw a fun, low-key dinner party. On any typical weekend you can find me and my boyfriend playing board games at home, so it made sense to invite a few more people and call it a party. We served a make-ahead dinner you can just put in the oven after work, along with fun snacks and a killer drink — all easy and comfortable for a relaxed Friday night at home. The best part? When we got down-right competitive playing my favorite game.
Today I'll share a little more about the ideas behind the party, plus the menu (let's just say peach lambic rye is definitely on it and you're going to want some), and how I added a couple bright pieces to liven-up my small New York apartment.
The Party Idea: A Fun, Easy, Make-Ahead Friday Board Game Night
Even though playing board games may be a regular weekend activity for me and my friends, it doesn't mean it can't be somewhat special every once in a while. This is especially true if you invite friends whom you haven't seen recently or if there is another important occasion like a birthday.
A casual approach just makes things a whole lot easier on the host. This party was all about low-stress entertaining with as much make-ahead food and drinks as possible.
The Party Menu: A Make-Ahead Dinner Followed by Snacks and Cocktails
The idea for the menu was anchored by simplicity. I needed to be able to come home and clean my apartment in 20 minutes, throw something in the oven, and prepare a simple salad before people came over. I settled on our recent recipe for lasagna roll-ups and a kale side dish, which were incredibly simple to make, yet totally delicious.
After dinner we moved to the not-so-separate living room for board games and snacks. I made a simple dip, some easy but unique popcorn, and something a little sweet I could pick up at the grocery store. I normally drink beer or whiskey while playing board games, so this lambic rye sangria seemed like the perfect fit. The dessert was prepared the night before the gathering. Let me tell you right now: you need to make these cookies ASAP.
For 5 people
- Fiery Kale Salad with Garlic and Olive Oil
- Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups
- Rolls (store-bought)
- Wine (from Trader Joe's)
SNACKS & COCKTAIL
- Whipped Feta Dip
- Cheesy Spicy Popcorn
- Chocolate Covered Almonds (from Trader Joe's)
- Sliced cucumber and carrots
- Everything Pretzel Crisps
- Peach Lambic and Rye Sangria
- 20-Minute Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (turned into an ice cream sandwich using Talenti vanilla gelato)
The Party Look: Bright and Colorful With Little Effort
I wanted a look that required minimal time to throw together when I got home from work, but was also super fun with lots of bright colors.
The easiest way to make a space feel festive is bright colors, and my apartment already has a lot of various shades of pinks, golds and yellows, and dark blues and grays. I pushed the colors in my apartment further by using a hot pink tablecloth to cover my glass table, matching pink floor pillows for playing board games, vibrant yellow flowers, and dark blue napkins.
In addition to adding these pops of color, I turned off the ceiling lights and added some string lights, lit a couple candles, and turned on my arc lamp. It's all about that mood lighting, people.
I also changed the music throughout the evening –– for dinner it was all about Ella Fitzgerald, and for playing board games we listened to a One Be Lo Pandora station. I don't have a separate kitchen and living room, so this kind of music transition was key in setting the right mood for both parts of the evening.
Keep an eye out for the full party post on Wednesday (dinner, snacks, booze, and games!), along with recipes for whipped feta and the peach lambic rye sangria throughout the week. Last but not least on Friday I'll share my tips for getting your apartment guest-ready in less than 20 minutes. Trust me –– it can, in fact, be done.
I had so much fun transforming a normal Friday night with board games and friends into something a little more awesome –– I hope you'll enjoy reading all about it!