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 Deen
Paula Deen
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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm