Throwing a vegan dinner party can be challenging and stressful. Listen in as our guest expert gives the tips and tricks for party success!
Everybody loves a good dinner party, but how do you make it work so you are not drained, stressed and ready to fall apart by the end of the night? We got your back with all you need to know!
Diana Goldman is a Vegan Caterer, Sierra Club Cooking Show Host and Plant-based Nutrition Educator based in Boston. She received a B.S. from Cornell University in Nutrition Science and an Ed.M. from Harvard University. Her blog Beantown Kitchen was awarded one of the top 100 plant-based blogs by Feedspot.
How to Get Started
Sometimes the hardest part of taking something on is getting started. When it comes to having a dinner party, knowing all that you need to do in an easy step by step format can really help reduce the overwhelm. Here are the basics to get you going:
- Find a date.
- Decide who your guests will be, make sure to take note of kids versus adults.
- Find out if there are any allergies, dislikes etc with your guests.
- Decide location, where and also if you will be inside or outside.
- Plan a theme and menu.
Accommodating All Dietary Needs
There are so many recipes available for us to use for free, so we shouldn't be stopped when we need to accommodate allergies or other foods our guests need or prefer to avoid.
All you need to do is search online and look in cookbooks you have. Google, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook are all great for finding recipes for every diet.
Sometimes the cuisine can guide us too. For example Indian and Thai cuisine use coconut for creaminess so can help if you have a guest that is nut free but can have coconut. While Italian cuisine tends to have a lot of cheese and vegan cheeses are often made from nuts, so it may not be best with nut allergies.
Overall when you are used to making plant-based recipes, accommodating needs and preferences is second nature.
What to Serve
There are many avenues you can take that will help guide you when it comes to narrowing down what to make for your dinner party. Here are a few ideas:
- Start with a familiar main meal first and then pick sides that stem off of that main meal. Like if you do burgers, you can do fries, salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, etc.
- Pick a cuisine and focus your menu around that theme. If you do Italian, you can do lasagna, salad, risotto and tiramisu.
- Serve food buffet style so you can make a variety of things for people to serve themselves. Salads, and sides do great to get in variety with buffets.
- Have a build your own theme and allow people to make their own tacos, pizzas, bowls, etc. This is great when feeding people that have a lot of dietary differences so they can pick and choose what to have.
The people coming to your dinner party, where you will eat and your dietary needs can all help guide which direction is best to take.
How to Prep
Prepping ahead can help keep the stress at a minimum. Once you have nailed down your menu, you should use that to find what ingredients you need. Then, check to see what you have at home and what you need to buy, and make a list for the grocery store.
Figure out what you can make ahead. This is what you can do ahead of time:
- Dressing for a salad so it's done.
- Chop and prep the things you can't make ahead so they are ready day of.
- Cook things like grains, etc so they are ready to use.
You can also set the table ahead of time to have it ready to go. This way the day of you can focus on organizing your space, cleaning, setting up the space more, etc.
Also, if you get things prepared with time left before your guests arrive, you can relax a little so you are rested when the party starts. Don't forget to leave time to get yourself ready!
All of this will help you avoid the exhaustion that comes with doing everything all at once. And you can enjoy yourself more!
There are things to think about other than the food when hosting a party! Here are some things you may not remember to plan for:
- Serving platters
- Decor like flowers, candles, etc
- Plates, glasses, utensils
- Music to play in the background
- Having appetizers or grazing platters so guests have something to do while you get the food ready to serve
- Drink station
Here are some tips to make sure your party planning is a success:
- Don't have guests bring appetizers if you're doing a potluck because if someone is late you won't have them
- Be prepared
- Prep ahead and don't leave it all for the day of
- Having a variety of drinks for all preferences
- Always have enough water available
- Don't stress about everything being perfect!