Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Joe and I had a dinner party on Saturday. 
I love planning dinner parties!

Half the FUN is in the planning. It REALLY is.

And when the door bell finally rings after weeks of planning, I love to WELCOME our friends into our home.

And as promised, I've compiled some tips for a well organized dinner party so that you will feel ready and have FUN! 

Decide on your menu about a week prior to the dinner if you can. Typically, I pull out the “Recipes We Love” folder and keep the menu simple but special.  Your guests would rather have you at the table enjoying dinner with them, than in the kitchen fussing with complicated recipes.

Once you have decided on your menu, it’s time to start a list of items that you need to purchase, and things you want to accomplish before the dinner. Place the list in a visible spot so you can cross items off as you complete them. 

Our menu:
Buffalo chicken meatballs
Spinach cheese ball w/ assorted crackers
EntrĂ©e:  Double loin of pork stuffed with apricots, marinated in white wine/herbs, braised and then rubbed with Dijon mustard and brown sugar before roasting
Autumn salad with cranberry dressing and sliced pears
Cornbread dressing with cranberries
Glazed carrots with thyme
Green beans with caramelized onions and tarragon
Pumpkin risotto
Gingered apple sauce
Carrot cake

Favors:  Black widow spider brew (homemade hot chocolate mix)

If you are planning a themed dinner, (ie. Black Widows' Ball), put out some decorations. For example, I decorated an ordinary hall lamp with some paper spiders to make it festive. 

This is also a good time to inspect your home, inside and out. Remove the dirty hiking boots from the back door if necessary. Touch up the chipped paint on the molding if need be. Remove cob webs from the chandelier. Wash all the water goblets, water pitcher and wine glasses in case they are dusty. Inviting guests over is a sure way to get the “to do” list taken care of.

Tidy up your home two days in advance of the dinner.
Save the floors and wiping surfaces until the morning of the dinner. Iron your cloth napkins and cloth tablecloth if you are using. I rarely use a tablecloth since I love the simple look of the beautiful wood on our dining room table. But if you use a cloth, I prefer to spritz my cotton tablecloth with warm water two days before the dinner to make sure it is super wrinkle free.

Prep your dinner as much as possible the day (or evening) before the dinner.
When planning your menu, take into consideration items that can be prepared a day or so in advance and heated right before serving.
The day before your dinner, think FLOWER POWER. Tuck some FRESH greenery in areas of your home to welcome your guests. This time of year, I make little mum bouquets and add lemon verbena from the side garden. A little something FRESH in the bathroom will show your guests that you thought of them. Put a battery operated candle in the bathroom for ambience. 
You guests WILL notice!

Think about what you will offer as your Signature Drink when guests first arrive. Pour to order! 

On the day of the dinner, get an early start. Set goals for the day, and write out a timeline. Set aside enough time to get some exercise if you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will clear your head. I love going outdoors to clear my nasal passages from the scent of the kitchen. Or slice some lemons for the ice water....it's very refreshing on the nasal passages. 

If you have Pets, the rule of thumb is that pets should not be greeting your guests at the door. Later in the evening, when the time is right, the pets can join the party. Our pooch wore her collar that matched my spider skirt. Friends notice :-)

Now for the moment you have been waiting for. The doorbell rings, the MAGIC of the evening begins! You have everything well organized, and NOW it’s time to RELAX and ENJOY! Your friends WILL notice all you have done to make the evening SPECIAL for them. 

Sending love to my special friends! Next time we'll get our guys in the picture :-)

Thank you for stopping by! Are you planning a dinner party in the near future? I'd love to hear about it. If you leave a comment, I'll know you were here and will be sure to visit you!

With this post, I'll be joining Open House Party and Tablescape Thursday


P.S.  Having an issue with my computer, and the font keeps changing on this post. Please bear with me!

Debbie@Mountain Breaths
Debbie@Mountain Breaths

Hello, I'm Debbie.I enjoy hiking, kayaking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the Adirondack Mountains (thus Mountain Breaths). I live in Upstate NY with my supportive husband and have three precious sons..


  1. I would love to be a guest at one of your dinner parties, Debbie. Your MC table is perfect for Halloween...I never tire of seeing the different ways you use those gorgeous dishes.
    You know you could have put a couple of spiders up there with the cobwebs on the chandelier, no one would have been the wiser!

  2. The hostess with the Mostest!!! I know you would make anyone feel so special and welcome in your home.
    You are so organized it scares me!
    Great and helpful post.

  3. You are really organized and you have it down to a science, looks like a wonderful party and even nicer that you are able to enjoy it with your friends!
    Love Kiki's matching your skirt :)

  4. You and I think too much alike! I MUST be completely finished with EVERYTHING once the guests arrive - I want to enjoy my parties as much as my guests!! Table looked great - your meatballs sound tasty!

  5. You are the ULTIMATE party planner, Debbie! Oh what I wouldn't give to be a guest....I think you need to quit your "day job", and do this for a living...no?

  6. What a beautiful table set with MC...just beautiful.
    I know ya'll had a delightful time...thanks for all the tips on having a dinner party.

    Yes, I noticed your font change..and right now, it's so light, it's a little hard to read. Wonder why this happens...? sometimes, my font will get so tiny, I can barely see it...then, it will get HUGE. Beats me...but, we all just grin and bear it. :))'xoxo bj

  7. Hey there, Miss Debbie! You put on quite a party there!!! I agree with you that planning is half the fun! You get to pull together a billion ideas to create one perfect scenario...heaven!!! I also agree that being done with everything before guests arrive is a plus. I don't like to be running around doing last minute stuff. I just want to kick back and join the fun! I didn't notice any problem with the font from here. It all looks the same.

  8. Wow! The party looks like it would have been THE place to be. I am empressed with your creativity and organizational abilities. Thanks for sharing your tried and true tips.

  9. Your tips are wonderful and almost exactly how I entertain too. I have to write things down so I don't forget to do them and then tackle a few jobs each day the week prior to the dinner.

    Your home looks great and I'm sure your friends really appreciate all of your special touches, Debbie!

  10. Delighted to be following back. Love the fab pictures and recipes, yum!!

  11. Nice tips. The party looks like a lot of fun. Love that cake.

  12. This post was such fun and the table setting so beautiful...I also make a written plan in advance. Being organized is so helpful.

  13. Great party! I really enjoyed reading your tips to help prepare for a party. I'm sure your friends had the best time.

    I loved the spiders on the lamp!

  14. Debbie, this is fabulous! Your lucky guests ~ what a delight to be guests at your home. My mom organized the same way you did, and I do the same (less stress on the hostess and host!!) I love that you share your tips.

    Just l@@k at the beautiful table ~ and the gorgeous collection of MacKenzie-Childs! You rock, Ms. D. xoxo~m.

    P.S. I'm forever grateful to you for helping me complete those fruit themed dishes (pomegranate, etc.) that went somehow "missing" from my plate set. You're a gem, Debbie.

  15. How fun! I love the last photo of the widows with the spider web over it! What a fun party and I just love the checkered plates. Wish my invitation hadn't gotten lost in the mail - next year hopefully!

  16. Your menu sounds wickedly delicious! Love all your tips~ I'm a list maker too, but not nearly as tidy :) Love your last photo behind the web & of course, your pooch's matching bandana!

  17. Love your table! It is so nice of you to share some tips about entertaining. It is important for the hostess to enjoy the event too! I love your black and white checked dishes. I went with black and white checked for my Halloween table too this week but unfortunately, I had to do it with a tablecloth, not those gorgeous dishes.

  18. What an enjoyable post. Love all the comments and more that you put so much into your planning to make it such an enjoyable time for your guests.

  19. Wow, you are VERY organized! Your house and table look great. It looks like you've thought of everything, and your menu sounds wonderful I used to stress out about having people for dinner until I only had a few hours notice to feed ten. It was a great success and my husband (it was his family) was a huge help. The smiles on the faces of your guests tell it all!

  20. What a ball, literally! I must confess to being very impressed by your organizational skills. I often back myself into a corner by being spontaneous!

  21. Debbie...great guide for a dinner party. I'm with you on organizing! We're have a small dinner party next week and it's already planned in my head (including the tablescape). Love your Halloween theme and dinner sounds wonderful! Hope you are enjoying our autumn here!

  22. Looks like a great time.

    I plan everything out too. Every item I will need goes on a list next to the dish I am serving.
    One of my favorite things is doing the centerpiece and arrangements for the kitchen and bathrooms.
    I am thinking May now, as gson will be making his First Communion and I will be doing the centerpieces and baking Have to keep my eye open now for things I can use then!

  23. I'm loving your ideas and the recipes sound great, too. The group photo is perfect for the memories you all share. Thanks, Helen

  24. Thought id say hello while passing your blog by, and i hope you folks have a very nice weekend. We are maybe a little past fall peek colors for taking pictures of our tree's here in central Pennsylvania, but ill try anyway to go out one last time to snap some images. Richard from the Amish community of Lebanon Pennsylvania.

  25. Looks like a really fun night, love your table and the menu looks great! Sure you all had a blast:@)

  26. Delightful, absolutely delightful. I've never been to your blog before and am really impressed. You've really got it together girl. Look forward to coming back again.

  27. Debbie, this was before I knew you, so I'm thrilled that you shared the link. Beautiful dinner party with a great theme. Thanks for sharing all the excellent tips. You are a gifted hostess.
    Happy Halloween!


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