5 Handy Tips to Plan Your Dinner Party Menu

5 Handy Tips to Plan Your Dinner Party Menu

Hosting a dinner party does not have to be the frenzied and stressful affair. Take it easy, and do not sweat the small stuff! Preparation can be a fun and breezy affair with these five handy dinner party menu planning tips: 

1. Go with the Flow of Seasons

Take your cue from Mother Nature, and plan your dinner party menu in accordance with the current season. If you are throwing a party in the sweltering heat of summer, take it easy and lay off the oven. A mix of cold, crisp salads and grilled dishes will be a perfect combination for your party. If the weather is cool outdoors, warm up the stomachs of your guests by whipping up comforting soups, roasted meats and grilled root vegetable dishes.

2. Pick One Highlight for the Night

Limit the number of complicated dishes that you will cook for your dinner party. Save your time and sanity by having only one star dish for the night on your dinner party menu. Keep in mind to pick side dishes that are quick and easy to prepare, for you do not want to spend the entire night slaving away in the kitchen.

3. Plan Your Dinner Around a Main Dish

Plan the rest of your dinner menu around the star dish that you have selected.

For example, if you are preparing a tangy Thai green curry, be sure to include an array of sides that complement the flavours of this dish well, such as steamed rice, a beef salad and stir-fried greens. If a hearty and heavy pasta dish is your highlight for the night, be sure to include light starters, such as salads, rather than opting for carb-heavy selections such as breads and dips. Remember, balance is key.

4. Mix and Match: Throw in a Handful of Store Bought Items

Do not hesitate to include a selection of store bought items for your party, for this will save you time, as well as the hassle of preparing every single dish from scratch. A crusty loaf of bread, a fine selection of cheeses, a platter of cold cuts or lucious artisanal gelato can be handy lifesavers that will complete your dinner party meal.

5. Wine Pairing: Creating a Match Made in Heaven

Two approaches can be undertaken when it comes to the art of wine pairing. The first approach, likeness, refers to picking a full-bodied or powerful wine to complement the strong flavours of a rich dish. If you are whipping up light dishes such as a grilled fish item or a refreshing salad, go for lighter wines with sweet notes.

The second approach, contrast, aims to strike a distinction between the dish and the wine. For example, creamy dishes, such as a savoury cheese platter, will go well with wines containing acid notes, for they help to balance out the creamy richness of the cheese. Similarly, wines with sweet and fruity flavours will work well with spicy, palate-tingling items.

Image Credits: Gallery Hip, Living Loving Paleo, Cresthill Bakery, FcWines


Starting Your Home-Based Restaurant Business: 6 Handy Tips

Starting Your Home-Based Restaurant Business: 6 Handy Tips

Do you have a burning passion for running your own culinary business, but find yourself feeling more than a little hesitant at the notion of investing significant amounts of time and money into setting up a restaurant venture?

You are not alone. Starting and running your own home based business can trickier than you imagine but opening a home-based restaurant may be an ideal solution for you. Apart from offering a lower level of risk and competition, home-based food entrepreneurs also enjoy greater flexibility from a work-from-home business model.

If you harbor dreams of running your own restaurant venture in the future, starting up your home-based restaurant may serve as a good stepping stone for you to hone your culinary skills and test out the market.

Entrepreneurs who are new to the process of running their own business may find it a mind-boggling affair to nail down the details. Fret not, for we are here to help!

Read on to find out all about six handy tips that will help you to kickstart your own home-based restaurant business:

1. Legalities: Research is Key

Conducting in-depth research is an essential step, in order to gain a wealth of information about state and local requirements for running a home-based restaurant in your area of residence.

Laws governing food-based businesses are particularly strict, and may be related to various aspects such as zoning, business licensing, permits, food production, and safety requirements about food products.

2. Equip Your Kitchen: Do You Have What You Need?

If you have developed a clear idea of the kinds of dishes that you will include on your menu, the next step is to ensure that you have all the necessary kitchen equipment to prepare, cook and store your food products and dishes.

Some essential questions to ask yourself are:

Would you need to invest an additional sum to purchase more kitchen equipment?

What are the steps that you need to take to ensure consistency in the quality of food that you prepare?

3. Test the Market

Your cooking may be a huge hit with your friends and family members, but that does not offer a clear indication of the business potential of your home-based venture.

It is advisable that you conduct focus groups and host dinner parties for guests with varying food preferences. In this manner, you can garner comments about your food, and find out if it will be well-received by different types of consumers.

4. Run Your Home-Based Restaurant as a Legal Entity

Home-based restaurants are often created out of a hobby. As such, many of these home cooks do not run their business as a legal entity, but rather, conduct their business operations in a casual manner.

Home-based restaurant owners should keep the liabilities of their business distinct and separate from their personal assets and finances. In addition, they should carry insurance for their business assets and keep separate financial accounts for the operations of their business.

5. Craft a Professional Image

Invest the time and effort needed to craft out a professional image for your business. If you do not have the required skills, hire someone else to help you design, create and manage a professional-looking website, logo, name cards and social media marketing channels.

6. Get the Word Out About Your Home Based Business

Food entrepreneurs often assume that their food products and services will garner successful sales if it is well received by people who have sampled their food. In most instances, they place a greater emphasis on honing their culinary skills and do not put in much effort into spreading the word about their business.

Marketing experts have indicated that this is one of the biggest mistakes that home-based food businesses make. It is advised that food entrepreneurs invest sufficient time and money into aspects such as online marketing, social media marketing, and PR in the early stages of starting their business.

In addition to carrying out marketing efforts, food entrepreneurs can also tap on external resources, such as joining a social dining platform in order to reach out to a greater community of customers.

If you found this article interesting, consider joining our host community and starting your home-based restaurant now.

Image credits: Images.frompo, Designhill


5 Quick ‘n Easy Dinner Party Tips

5 Quick ‘n Easy Dinner Party Tips

1. Practice Makes Perfect!

About a couple of weeks prior to your dinner party, stage a dinner rehearsal by preparing the dishes that you have planned for the party menu. This will help you to have an accurate gauge of the time you will need to cook the food. It is also a good chance for you to give the items a final round of taste test, and to make changes to the flavours and recipe if necessary.  

2. Create A D.I.Y. Bar

A D.I.Y. bar is a great feature to add to your house dinner party. Provide a selection of drinks, liquors, flavours, garnishes and basic mixology equipment, and let your guests have fun mixing up their own drinks!

There are several pros to doing this. You will not have to spend the night making one drink after another, guests can create their own unique concoctions, and it serves as a great ice-breaking spot for your guests to mix and mingle around.

3. Start Food Preparations in Advance

Rushing back from work to start preparations for an evening weekday dinner party can be quite a crazy affair. If you are planning to invite a fairly large group of people, it is likely that you will be waging a tough fight against time to prepare the dishes!

This problem can be fixed by making tweaks to the menu to include dishes that can be prepared as early as a week beforehand. Think pies (bake the crust a few days before), braised meat dishes (cook this a day in advance, set aside the cooking juices to chill in the fridge, and reheat the meat on the day of the party) and simple pasta salads.


4. Turn Brown Paper Bags Into Menus!

Apart from being a pretty sight, brown paper bag menus also serve as a budget-friendly party decor item.

You can also use the paper bag to serve your starters (like a yummy serving of piping hot chips!), to help you cut down on the number of dishes to wash after the dinner party is over.

If you are hooked on this idea, be sure to check this  article out for tips on making your own paper bag menu!

5. Transform Muffin Trays into Gorgeous Centerpieces

With some simple touches. your plain ol’ muffin trays can be transformed into gorgeous centerpieces!

You may place pretty tealights or insert vibrant blooms and miniature plants into the indents of the tray. If you would like to have a fancy centerpiece for a posh dinner party, fill up the indents with water, and place a mix of flowers and tealights in the tray. You will end up with a charming centerpiece containing floating flowers and flickering candlelights!

Image credits: HGTV, Cakebossbaking, Eco-beautiful Weddings, Legcloud, Atelier Christine


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Top 10 Dinner Party Hacks

Top 10 Dinner Party Hacks

As you very well know, here at BonAppetour we love a great dinner party!

Our hosts have the most and are always eager to ensure all guests are comfortable, satisfied with delish food and generally having a good time. But for those out there who regularly host dinner parties; whether they’re with friends, family, neighbours, travellers or your postman, sometimes you just need a kick of inspiration to jazz up your dinner presentation!

You’ve slaved over your stove to whip up the best for your guests, but are you wanting to add a little somethin’ somethin’ to make the whole experience a touch more special? There are so many great websites full of tips out there in the world of the web, from the amazing A Beautiful Mess to the hilarious BuzzFeed Life, but here’s a few tips that we love. Not only are they easy to do, but they’ll help make your dinner the talk of the town!

1. Menu: Why not write your menu on a brown paper bag and fill it with bread. It’ll make a nibble that also lets your guests know what to expect during the eve! Other ideas could be writing them on some ornate paper and then wrap it around the cutlery and/or napkins.

2. Ice: So you’re making cocktails, but want a bit of pizazz with the fresh citrus that you’re adding? Wow your guests by freezing lemon and lime wedges that they can drop them into cocktails or soft drinks. A refreshing yet chilling addition!

3. Lighting: Atmospheric lighting is key to an intimate dinner party. Obviously you want to still be able to see your plate and the person opposite you, so to keep it lit but not light, try long white candles in cleaned empty wine bottles. Jam jars also make trendy holders which won’t blow out in the breeze, or pop a tea light in an apple to get a lovely scent in the air!

4. Glasses: Talking of jam jars, why not serve up your cocktails in these lovely containers? Not only do they have wide bases that’ll avoid spillages, but you’re thinking green and recycling. If you’re tired of everyone mixing up their glasses, get some chalkboard paint and coat the top of the wine glass base. You can then chalk on your guests names, et voila!

5. DIY Dessert: We love desserts here at BonAppetour, but if you’re running low on time,  delicious can also be quick and easy! It’s pretty easy to melt down a hunk of chocolate for your guests and lay out strawberries, marshmallows, banana – whatever you can think of! It’s a great way to get your hands dirty and your sweet tooth satisfied.

6. Cocktail Hour: If you host many gatherings at your home, you may end up with quite an extensive collection of spirits and bottles. One way to make it presentable would be to arrange them nicely on a vintage cart on wheels so you can ferry it around to your guests. Or if you really know how to shake it, why not teach your party how to make your favourite cocktail altogether? What a way to learn and drink – fingers crossed that you end up with something that you can stomach…

7. Fresh Mocktails: Alcoholic beverages aren’t for everyone, especially if you have to drive afterwards. But you don’t have to serve generic coke and lemonade to these teetotal guests! If you have a juicer, whip up some delicious and healthy fresh juice mocktails and smoothies to keep them sipping away!

8. Al Fresco Dining: Are you lucky enough to have the sun peeping out where you live? Are you experiencing delightfully balmy evenings and stunning sunsets? Move your dinner party outside to give your guests a unique experience. It’ll make it truly memorable, just like our BonAppetour host in Rome, Susanna!

9. Comfort: With people in your home, you kind of want it to look pretty great! But it doesn’t mean you have to go out and purchase expensive decorations to add flair. Why not be as simple as popping some pretty or fancy cushions on the seats to add comfort and colour! If you’re feeling a bit crafty, whip up some easy cushion covers that can be your go-to dining cushions…. Also, they’d be perfect for future picnics!

10. Cork stoppers: If you are having plentiful wine at your dinners but are bored of the generic bottle corks, why not add a bit of glamour to your wine stopper? The ladies at A Beautiful Mess have a tutorial showing how to attach crystals and mineral rocks to the stoppers, making them easy to handle and great to look at.

Which dinner party hack are you going to try? Do you have any great tips as well? Let us know by tweeting us!

Image Credits: That’s So Yummy, Hymns and Verses, Recipe Mash, Squarespace, Bellamere