how to throw an almost-perfect dinner party for 10: part II...i wish we had

So yesterday, we posted about how we prepared our house, menu, and "atmosphere" for the dinner party. Now, let's go over a few of our mistakes...

The Menu:
Jen planned things out pretty well--based on previous experience. But she didn't anticipate that while it only took 25 minutes to cook the Near East Rice Pilaf (found it!), it would take 50-60 minutes to cook two boxes together. 

Mistake #1: So the steaks were ready---perfect, even---at 7:30, but because the rice was still going, we tented the steaks to let them cook a wee bit longer and let them cool a bit. 

And cool they did. And cook they did. By the time the rice was done and we'd eaten our salads, the steaks were, shall we say, this color:

One long look of gray, with a touch of pink inside. Of course, our guests told us it was "perfect," "brilliant," and "like Mr. B's," but that is due more to their generosity than the actual appearance of the steak.

And as for that salad, mistake #2: Even if you like salad without much on it, put something besides dressing on it! Even though I (jen) like plain greens with a little dressing, for a dinner party, I should have added some cheese, toasted almonds, cranberries, something! Instead of presenting something simple, we looked boring.

Here's a tip: If you find yourself explaining the way you present something, as I did, then you missed something, and you're really just apologizing for what you know you should have done.  

Then, there was the wine...We didn't have enough. Hawk had to run out and grab a couple extra bottles. Could have been worse, but he saved it. And at the very least, we were able to enjoy a bottle of this:

I really like this wine. Thanks to Dr. Hawk for making us look so good!

Lastly, mistake #3: We should have provided dessert. Even a little sherbet or something. Anything! Granted, the last time I served this, we wouldn't have had room, but with ten people...serve dessert! 

There were more than a few "ugh" moments, but we made it through because we were learning with the company of gracious friends. We offer you these little tidbits to spare you the same gaufaw-time...

Good luck to you!



  1. Love it! And we learned so much. We actually do a lot of super casual entertaining for five or less but nothing very fancy (steaks? you go girl!).

    And since you asked, our advice to add to the pot might only work for casual gatherings but we always tell our guests to bring dessert. Note: it doesn't sound like an order, it comes out like "we'll fix the whole dinner and have drinks on hand if you guys wouldn't mind grabbing something sweet for dessert- we're down for anything." That way we can concentrate one one thing and sort of lovingly outsource the other.

    Again this works best for casual get togethers but it also adds a bit of fun to the night because our guests always surprise us with something interesting (from store-bought cupcakes to homemade personal cheesecakes).

    Anyway, that's all we got. As we said, you're far more Varsity at the large group entertaining than we are! We're over here on the JV bench...

    Sherry (& John)

  2. Love it! Such a good and simple and attainable concept. And since I can't make dessert to save my life, this is perfect!

    (for those of you who don't know, I check Sherry & John's site every hour. younghouselove.com)

    Thank you!!


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