The Stress Less Dinner Party
Green Beans with Roasted Nuts and Cranberries
Credit: Marcus Nilsson
Follow these easy steps to pull together a delicious dinner for eight.
Prepare the Meal
Set a Relaxed Table
- Skip the formal tablecloth and steal this easy look from your local café. Parchment paper, brown mailing paper, or the roll from a child's easel makes a casual place mat for two when draped across a table. And when the meal is over, cleanup is a snap.
- Use the glasses you have on hand. Forget stuffy rules about using special shapes or sizes for red and white wines. For most table wines, any glass will do. See the Stress Less Shopping List for drink recommendations.
Create a Lively Atmosphere
- Set place cards on the table to ensure your guests are well matched. Slip a scrap of pretty stationery between fork tines, which do the job as well as a store-bought holder.
- Plan out the music in advance to avoid spending the party playing dj. No time to make a mix? Try the online radio station pandora.com, which creates a customized playlist based on your favorite artist or song.
Add a Little Flair
- Make your own wine charms. Stamp hangtags or hole-punched paper with guests' initials, flowers, or whatever design you may have on hand.
Bring Beauty in With a Bouquet
- Keep bouquets short and tidy: That's the easiest kind to put together, and no one wants to have to peer around a mass of gladiolus. Consider running a line of arrangements down the length of the table. If you don't have enough vases, cake tins, jelly molds, and small ice buckets make unexpectedly charming containers.
- Use flowers as favors. At evening's end, wrap the stems in parchment and send them home with guests as a memento of the evening.