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5 Tips For Throwing A Holiday Dinner Party + Recipe

Happy Thursday friends!

I have a quick question for you. It’s almost November and I’m curious…are you dreading the holiday season or excited to spend it with friends or family! Well, if you are the former than I’m going to ease your fears today and encourage you to open your doors this holiday season and throw a kick a$$ dinner party (or 5) like a boss!

If you’ve been around here for a while you know that I usually write about what’s going on in our lives and this post is no exception! I am hosting a full blown, grown-up, 12-person dinner party in December for the first time ever! Don’t give me wrong I’ve had plenty of parties where neighbors, friends, and family come over to the house for meals and socializing but it’s usually not in the form of a sit-down dinner. Most of the time we just grill out and everyone brings something to share. And although I did create and prepare the party in these pictures, the upcoming soirée will be more formal and double in size so I feel like it will be in a league of it’s own. I won’t be taking pictures and blogging about it either. I’ll be engaged and enjoying it 100%! Yay!

5 Tips For Throwing A Kick A$$ Holiday Dinner Party + Recipe

So in preparation for the big event I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what would make the evening fun, simple and stress free. This might sound daunting and some of you are probably slowly retreating back into your shell but I’m convinced if you follow these simple steps you can have an effortless get together with your friends and family! Besides, the holidays are all about who we spend them with and I hope my guests remember the time together and not what we ate for dinner or what color utensils we used!

Sooo…here are my 5 essential tips were throwing a KICK A$$ dinner party! Heck, it could be so awesome that you may even start a new tradition. Wouldn’t that be great?!?!

1.  Create a Simple Menu. You don’t have to go all out and serve crazy fancy food that nobody can pronounce. Go simple, because it’s not really about the food, remember? Choose a soup, casserole, a lasagna or anything that can be made in advance. These types of dishes usually make plenty and are super easy to serve.

2. Prep Dishes In Advance. Choosing an entrée that can be made ahead of time will save down on stress and last-minute preparation. Imagine this, you could prep and freeze your entree weeks in advance. I’ve decided to go with my mom’s homemade lasagna recipe which is pretty easy to make. I’ll prep and freeze it, pull it out the day before the event and all I have to do is bake it that day. Chop vegetables for salads and sides a few days before the party and cut up fruit the day before. Bake and freeze a dessert if possible.

3. Have a Simple Signature Cocktail. As a rule of thumb I like to make a signature cocktail with 3-4 ingredients or less. A standard liquor, a sparkling beverage and a juice of some sort is all you really need. I will use a garnish as an extra touch if I have something on hand. OR…make it even simpler and just serve beer and a red and white wine!

4. Decorate in Three’s. It looks like 3 is becoming a trend here but I like it because it’s an easy number – not too much, not too little. The only things you need to decorate for a successful dinner party are fresh FLOWERS or greenery (picked from the yard is A-okay), a yummy smelling CANDLE and LINENS (preferably simple white tablecloths and napkins). If you have these three things then I wouldn’t worry about anything else. If you have beautiful china that never gets to used – use it. If you  just have plain white IKEA everyday dishes like me – use those!

5. Seating & Flow. Make sure to have enough seating for everyone and set up stations or conversation areas in the room to encourage mingling. Rearrange furniture and grab throw pillows and cozy blankets from other rooms if necessary. I like to have the bar setup on the sideboard, away from the kitchen where everyone can serve themselves. You can make a simple print out of the drink recipe with measurements so there is no confusion that guests can help themselves and you don’t have to play bartender. Pop the print out into a simple frame and voila, you have a cute and functional decor piece!

BONUS TIP: Ask your guests if there are any birthdays to celebrate that month. If so, I like to set the table with a special plate for that person and consider a birthday dessert. Also, check with your guests in advance for any dietary restrictions. Nowadays this courtesy is definitely appreciated!

If you followed the tips above most of your prep work should be done! Get a good night sleep and in the morning of the party quickly plan out the timing of any baking and heating that needs to be done. Set up your decor and place settings in the morning even if the party is in the evening so you have one less thing to stress about during crunch time.

{Photos by Laura Sumrak}


Here is the menu for my upcoming simple, kick a$$ dinner party:


Bacon Wrapped Dates + Jalapeños

(prepped the day before, baked on party day)


Garden Salad

(veggies chopped and dressing made 2 days prior to the party)


Mom’s Lasagna

(prepped and frozen prior to the party, baked on party day)

Garlic Bread

(heat and eat on party day)


Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream

(cobbler made and frozen prior to the party)

Signature Cocktail

Self Serve Mexican Mules

(Tequila, Ginger Beer, Jalapeños + Lime for garnish)


So spoiler alert neighbors we’re having lasagna! It’s not fancy but it’s darn good, it’s easy on me and we’re going to have lots of fun! This lasagna recipe is my mom’s and it’s been in our family since I can remember. It is cozy, comfort food and perfect for a December gathering.

Mom’s Lasagna Recipe


1 1/2 lb ground beef

1 small onion

2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce with bits

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes

1 small can tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp parsley flakes

1 tsp sugar

3 oz mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce

A few drops of Tabasco

Box of lasagna noodles

2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese

3 cups Swiss cheese

3 cups mozzarella cheese


Brown the ground beef and onion then add the next 12 ingredients and simmer for at least 45 min. Boil 9 noodles according to the directions on the box then rinse with cold water. Grease a casserole dish, spread a thin layer of the meat sauce in the bottom, then layer evenly as follows: noodles, meat sauce, dot with cream cheese, Swiss cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Repeat and end with a layer of sauce and mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Cheers to all the stress-free dinner parties commencing!




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