Hosting a dinner party can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a daunting undertaking. How many people should you invite? How much seating do you have? And most importantly, what are you going to serve? We’re here to help you with the latter question; once you decide on the food, the rest of the party will fall into place.
When cooking for a large group, you want to make something simple yet impressive. Deviling three-dozen eggs and making individual artisan sandwiches will surely impress your guests, but you’ll be too exhausted to enjoy the meal yourself. Instead, look for dishes that can be made in mass quantities and have minimum prep time. Here are a few ideas:
Baked pasta: Lasagna, baked mostaccoli and casseroles are crowd-pleasing comfort foods that require little effort on your part. All you need is a large casserole dish, the noodles of your choice, tomato sauce and/or paste, mozzarella cheese and something for texture, like ground meat or veggies. Pair it with salad and some breadsticks or garlic bread and you have an Italian feast.
Taco bar: Getting your guests involved in making the meal is more fun for everyone and less work for you. Make your seasoning and ground meat ahead of time, then prep your veggies and heat up your tortillas right before mealtime. Set everything out on the counter or table and let your guests assemble their own tacos how they like them. Make it a fiesta with some frozen margaritas and a piñata.
Chili contest: Even less work for you is turning your dinner party into a competition. In your invite, challenge your guests to bring their best chili recipe, with a prize for the winner. As the host, you can then focus on the appetizers and sides, like chips with homemade guacamole, pasta salad and cornbread. If it’s too hot out for chili, this idea also works for salsas, cookies and cocktails.
Barbecue: If you have a grill, hosting a barbecue is a good bet for big groups and little stress. Tell your guests that you’ll supply the meat and buns and ask them to bring the sides, drinks and desserts. Because barbecues are informal, you don’t need to worry about serving everyone at once. Grill up a round of hot dogs, then brats, then burgers, and people can eat whenever they’re hungry.