7 Tricks to Becoming a Dinner Party Diva

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Dinner parties are a fantastic way to get together with friends and family.  Serving food in the comfort of your home rather than going out allows for a more casual and comfortable atmosphere.  It can also be a daunting task if you are not well prepared.  The key to a successful dinner party is planning ahead!  Paula’s Test Kitchen put their minds together and came up with this must-do list for dinner party success.

1. Stick to the Basics
Choose recipes that are tried and true, that you know come out perfect every time.  It is no time to be trying a béarnaise and soufflé. 

2. Work Ahead
Pick recipes that can mostly be done ahead of time.  Choosing complex recipes that have to be cooked and served immediately will keep you in the kitchen and away from your guests. 

3. Appease with Appetizers
Set out simple appetizers and snacks in decorative bowls so that if you do have last minute things to fuss with in the kitchen your guests have something to nibble on.  These can be store bought items such as nuts, cheese and meat platters, snack mixes and vegetable platters. 

4. Don’t Forget the Centerpiece
Pre-set your table with seasonal flowers and other season appropriate items: gourds and small pumpkins in the fall, sea shells in summer, greens and herb bouquets with candles in the winter. 

5. Chart It Out
It’s also always fun to plan a seating arrangement and make decorative place cards.

6. Groovy Tunes
Be sure to get your guests in the mood with a great play list of your favorite music. 

7. Cocktail Time!
Choose a signature cocktail to have ready to serve when your guests arrive and always a “mocktail” for the non-drinkers in the bunch.

So, now that you have the basics down, we have picked the perfect menu to wow your guests.  Recipes that you can do ahead, and serve cold or warm up when your guests arrive.

Our Favorite Dinner Party Recipes
Southern Comfort Punch
Sparkling Mint and Ginger Lemonade
7-Layer Salad
Fool Proof Standing Rib Roast
Potato Casserole
Stewed Collard Greens
Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Grilled Plums

Read More From Holidays and Entertaining.

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm