Hello, hello! Lauren Kelp here from your favorite thoughtful entertaining website. If you’ve been following along on any of our posts over here on the lovely Kendall-Jackson blog, you know that we love to entertain. We love any excuse for a good dinner party, relish an easy recipe that allows us to spend more time with friends, and have a particular penchant for throwing fabulous get-togethers that won’t break the bank.
We love dinner parties so much that we decided to travel around the country & host fun pop-up dinners for people doing cool things in their community. Imagine hosting a get-together for your best friends just because! Well, my friend, I am here to convince you that this weekend is your time to shine because we are going to throw you a family-style dinner party! You’ll find tips, tricks, and a few tried and true tidbits to help get your party pants on & throw the best family-style dinner party there ever was.
Summertime is basically here & everyone is itching to sit outside, drink wine on the porch with friends, and have a lazy evening chatting and catching up. What could possibly sound better than that? Why not get everyone together and have this fun hang out at your place?
STEP ONE: PICK A THEME
When hosting a family-style dinner party, or even a dinner party for a larger crowd, it’s best to pick a theme and stick with it. You can go local & choose to only use ingredients that are seasonal, or maybe something more broad like ‘Italian’ food – either way, it helps keep you on track and if people want to bring something, you’ve got guidelines to work with.
The key is to find dishes that yield a lot & don’t have you slaving away in the kitchen. I love a big hearty salad, a nice cold pasta dish that you can make earlier in the day, and a great meat dish that cooks itself while you’re hanging out. If you are tight for space, try out a meat dish that requires a crockpot (like pulled pork!) instead of the grill.
STEP TWO: SEND OUT INVITES
Now it’s time to get serious! You’ve got your menu hashed out, now it’s time to pick a date & gather up some friends. If you are looking to host 5-10 people, I think a group text is great. Anything bigger than that requires an email, a fun e-vite, or (call me crazy) a Facebook event.
I love a big dinner party (we host 40 people regularly!) but when you start to get upwards of 15 people it’s nice to get have an easy way to monitor RSVPs (easy way of getting a good head-count) plus the added bonus of having your invite populate straight to your guests calendar is a major win.
PRO TIP: Depending on your guests, someone out of your group will ask what they can bring. You can either address this question in your email/text/Facebook event, such as:
We need people to bring these things, sign up if you want:
Another option is to tell your guests you are serving a family-style dinner with an Italian theme, so encourage everyone to bring their favorite bottle of Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc or Kendall-Jackson AVANT Red Blend.
STEP THREE: SET THE TABLE
This should come as no surprise, but setting the table is my favorite part! Plus, it’s fantastically easy when you are hosting a family-style dinner. Find wherever you are going to have your meal (porch, dinner table, etc.) and set your table around the serving dishes.
Grab the best serving dishes for your menu (big bowl for pasta, tray for your corn on the cob, etc.) and place them down the center of your table like a runner. Now, once’ you’ve got your platters down, you can set the rest of the table. This ensures there is enough space for food & allows for people to easily pass dishes and get seconds.
Place some candles or flower buds in little gaps to fill in the holes & add some texture to the table, put a water carafe or two on the table so people can serve themselves, and most importantly, open a few bottles of wine and have them sitting on the table. This, just like the food, allows people to serve themselves and try new wines!
Okay, my friends – what do you think? Inspired to throw a family-style gathering this weekend? The make-ahead menu is simple, your friends help with the clean up, and everyone goes home happy – it’s the makings for a perfect summertime get together!
photography by Josh Ulmer