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The Ultimate Dinner Party Guide

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The Ultimate Dinner Party Guide

From tableware to menus and seating arrangements, throwing a dinner party is never easy. Not only do you have to create the perfect ambient setting to enjoy a meal, but you also have to plan, prepare, cook, and serve the food! It can sound like more trouble than it’s worth but don’t be put off. Dinner parties are an amazing way to get family and friends together.

If you struggle to find the time to catch up with loved ones individually it can be a great way to get everyone in the room for a wonderful evening. It’s also a good test of your organizational skills and hosting abilities! Above everything else, it’s a lot of fun. As long as you have a plan in place, the evening will be a huge success. This dinner party guide takes you from the menu planning process to the dinner table decors, all the way to puddings and party favors:

The Guest List: The first thing that you need to decide is who you’re inviting. If you’re co-hosting the dinner party with a friend, partner, or family member, sit down together and work out a list. You need to work out what you want out of the dinner party. A big celebration with friends, intimate family meal, or perhaps an open-to-all buffet style event. Whatever the occasion is, this will indicate who you should invite.

Of course, the amount of space you have around the table will also dictate the number of guests. If you’re inviting more than eight people, a sit-down meal might not be the best idea. First of all, who has a table big enough for over eight? Also, you might want to consider a more fluid set up. For large numbers open up the garden and kitchen to guests, too. That way people can mingle without feeling cramped and confined to one room.

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Partayyy

Creating The Menu: If you’re having a sit-down soiree you’ll need to prepare a menu. If you’re having six people or under round for dinner you can probably cook individual courses. If you’re having more than six people or over, sharer style dishes and one-pot recipes are the way to go. If you’re having a huge gathering, then a buffet station set up in the garden or kitchen for food is best. You’ll have to determine whether any of the guests have allergies or intolerances before you come up with a menu. Also come up with some vegetarian and vegan options, too.

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     YUM

     For Smaller Groups:

Get your prep done before guests arrive, this goes for all group sizes. If you’re hosting for a smaller group of people you can afford to have more attention to detail and more ambitious dishes. Prawns are a good starter because they’re easy to prepare in advance. Buy prawns which have been cooked, cleaned, and peeled already. This will save time. There are so many different ways to serve prawns. A fail-safe option is a simple grilled prawn with a pre-prepared sauce. Get some char on your prawns to increase the smokey flavors in the dish. This goes particularly well with a romesco sauce.

For the main course, food preferences permitted, herb crusted lamb is a real show stopper. To make the crust, combine breadcrumbs, parsley, mint, and oil. Smear some mustard over the fatty side of the lamb and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Be sure to brown your lamb before cooking. www.StoneFryingPans.com/the-best-stainless-steel-cookware has some great stainless steel cookware, perfect for searing and deglazing to make a jus for the lamb. Finally, make sure you leave your lamb to rest for at least 10 minutes. This will ensure that the meat is nice and tender and the juices won’t leak onto the plate. Dessert needs to be something that can be prepared in advance and left to chill. Cheesecake is a good idea, because you can make one large one and portion it before serving. It’s also a great ‘blank canvas’ dessert, so you can add your own preferences, too. Lemon, chocolate, hazelnut, berries, and basically any topping ever work well with a cheesecake.

     For Larger Groups:

Cooking for larger groups needn’t be challenging, you’ll just need to tweak the menu accordingly. Choose some large platters or boards and arrange some cured meats and cheeses on them. Serve olives over ice and sourdough bread, too. Balsamic vinegar and oil make a great dip to go alongside this sharing starter, as does tapenade. For the main dish, consider doing a one-pot wonder. A homemade curry or a big paella served straight from the pan works really well for larger groups. You can stick these on and leave them to cook with minimal effort, apart from stirring. Serve curries with homemade flatbreads, onion salad, and a yogurt dip. For dessert opt for an easy crowd pleaser like ice cream or mousse. This can also be made ahead of time and left to chill.

     For Vegetarians:

Buy some spelt pasta from a health food store and use this as the base of your dish. Blend spinach and basil in a blender with some oil, seasoning, and pine nuts. This will create a pesto to use as a sauce over your pasta. Cook some courgettes and asparagus, too. Toss the pesto through the pasta and top with the cooked courgettes and asparagus.

Which Drinks To Serve: Setting up a drinks tray is the best idea. Nobody wants to have to make drinks all night for their guests. Prepare a table in the living room or kitchen with a variety of soft drinks and alcohol for guest to pick and choose. Another good idea is to make one signature drink. Making jugs of cocktails is an especially good idea if it’s a summer party which spills out into the garden.

To make a mojito simply mix lime juice, mint, and sugar in a large jug or bowl. Mash these gently to let the flavors start to seep out and sugar dissolve. Top with rum, soda, and plenty of ice. Put slices of mint and lime to garnish in little bowls next to the jug.

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My kind of party!

Setting The Scene: Whenever you go to a great dinner party, the atmosphere is one of the things that makes it so special. Creating the perfect atmosphere is partly down to planning. If you are having a sit-down meal you’ll need to dress the table. It can be tempting to go overboard with accessories and cram the table but try to avoid this. Guests want to be able to talk, share food, and relax without having to navigate lots of decorative pieces. A few tea light candles with lantern-style covers are a pared back but sophisticated touch. Fresh flowers are also a great centerpiece, but if you have a small table don’t clutter it. Station a drinks table with an ice bucket nearby so that you don’t have to keep rushing backward and forwards.

A seating plan shouldn’t be necessary and can feel a bit too formal. Adding a little gift for each person is a nice touch, too. They don’t have to be expensive, in fact, the more whimsical the better. Masks or joke shop presents are a great idea for a group of friends. Family members may appreciate birthstones or small bags of truffles. These tokens will help to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, plus they’ll lift your guest’s mood!

After Party? Some dinner parties can continue long into the night and become a party as well as dinner. Make it clear to guests on the invite whether you’re open to that. There’s nothing worse than wanting to go to bed but still having a few guests. If you’re having people stay over, set up the guest bedroom early on in the day. By the end of the night, you won’t feel like changing bed linen and arranging flowers!

Nobody wants to clean up after a party, either, but facing all the debris in the morning is probably worse. Compromise and go around with a bin liner and chuck in any bottles or plastic cups. Wash up your plates and cutlery and leave them to dry. Leave larger pans to soak overnight, and head to bed. That way there will be a manageable amount to tackle in the morning.

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Cheers!!

Featured Image By: Pixabay

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Making Gifts: 5 Things You’ll Wish You Knew Earlier

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Making Gifts: 5 Things You’ll Wish You Knew Earlier

Making gifts is one of the best ways to show somebody how much you care about them. Taking your time over a gift like this is one of the most thoughtful things that you can do. No matter how big or small the gift is, they are bound to appreciate something like this over a store bought item. However, before you start making gifts, there are a few things you should know. Don’t waste hours of time making gifts when you could save yourself some hassle. Here are a few things you’ll wish you knew earlier:

Gift Baskets Are Awesome & Easy: Gift baskets are a brilliant gift and so easy to make. You have the opportunity here to get creative and include anything and everything that you can think of. All you need to do is make sure that it’s presented in a way that the receiver will love! If you’re struggling, it’s a good idea to start with one thing, so you don’t get overwhelmed. It’s all too easy to think of the word ‘gift basket’ and go into panic mode because you think you need to buy 101 things and you don’t know where to start. Start with one thing you know you’re getting, and just go from there. Even if it’s just the basket!

Make sure you include textures in your basket. Using as many different textures as possible makes things look far more exciting and interesting. That’s why this principle is most commonly used in fashion and decorating a house! It could also help you to think of a theme if you’re struggling with what to get. Is this person a music lover? Do they enjoy gardening or reading? Base it around that. However, you don’t need to explicitly stick to your theme if you think of something else to get. Just use it as a guide.

Finally, it’s a great idea if you can include something handmade in your basket, even if it’s a cake or something small, like a Christmas decoration. It’ll give your gift basket that bit of extra oomph and really impress the receiver!

You Don’t Actually Have To Make It Yourself: OK, some may consider it cheating, but you don’t actually have to make this gift yourself if you haven’t got time or you don’t want to for whatever reason. You don’t have to pretend you made it yourself. You could, but that could definitely be considered a little naughty, and what would you say if they found out? Regardless of if you make it or not, they’re going to enjoy a unique handmade gift better than a standard store bought gift.

You can get somebody else to do this for you on the internet, using sites like Fiverr. That’s where you’ll probably find it cheapest, but it isn’t a site made specifically for crafts. Look on Etsy if you want the widest selection of crafts imaginable. You can find all kinds of handmade crafts, from clay charms to handmade wire jewelry, and even customized clothing. Whatever you have in mind, you’ll find it on Etsy. You may even be able to contact a seller to see if they’d be willing to make something specific for you for a little extra cost.

There’s A Tutorial For Absolutely Everything: So maybe you really do want to flex your creative muscles and see what you can come up with. You don’t have to come up with your ideas alone. There’s a tutorial for literally everything on the internet. Want to make a far out, colorful seashell? There’s a tutorial. How about your own customized bath and body care products? Tutorial. Want to make your own glow in the dark bouncy ball? There’s a tutorial for that, too. Honestly, there are an endless amount of things that you can make, so check out YouTube and other sites for help. You can even find picture tutorials on sites like Pinterest.

Remember, you don’t have to follow one tutorial to the T, either. You can add your own twist to it to make it your own, and even use a number of different tutorials and different methods to come up with something entirely unique.

You Don’t Have To Make Anything Super Fancy: Think you need to pull out all of the stops and buy the contents of your local craft store to impress the receiver? You don’t at all! You don’t have to make anything super fancy to have an impact on the receiver. They’ll love that you took the time to make them something, regardless of what it is. A few pretty but easy things include colorful paper flowers or a vintage looking candle holder. You could even make a card, and they’d be equally as impressed. Maybe you could customize a photo frame or make them a scrapbook. In some cases, the more simple your gift idea, the better. Don’t doubt yourself!

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CUTE!

You Can Make Gifts Out Of Things Around The House: You don’t even need to buy any craft equipment to make a gift. You can make gifts out of things that you find around the house! You can use a permanent marker to transform a plain mug into something funny, with a quote or word that will perk the receiver up. You can use colored markers to transform a white plate into something beautiful. How about using paint with wine glasses to make something super pretty? You could also use a picture and mod podge to make a glass even more meaningful. Why not try making jewelry from old t-shirts, and even pasta? Chances are, you have something in your home that you can transform. All it takes is a little imagination.

One of the only gifts on par with a beautiful handmade gift is an experience gift. Whether you want to make a gift or give an experience, make sure that you consider this person’s likes and dislikes. Personalizing the gift is the best way to make it more meaningful!

Featured Image By: Pixabay

Happy Easter!!

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Happy Easter!!

Hi everyone and happy weekend! I would like to take a minute to wish a very Happy Easter to those who celebrate and a very happy Sunday to those that don’t! No matter how you spend your day, I hope that everyone has a wonderful time with their family, friends, pets, or just hanging out solo dolo. Alright. That’s my spiel! Have a great day, everyone! Much love. -Sarah

Monday Update: Sister’s Birthday Celebration Edition

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Monday Update: Sister’s Birthday Celebration Edition

Heyyy everyone and happy Monday! This past weekend was SO much fun because it was my sister, Kristen’s, 25th birthday! We had such a wonderful time celebrating and I was really happy because I got to spend her entire birthday with her. Kristen is unbearably hard to shop for, so for her birthday I decided to keep it simple and snag her some gift cards so that we could make a day out of using them. Which is exactly what we did!

I got Kristen a gift card to Sephora and to the nail salon that we go to, so we spent the afternoon girling out with pedicures and makeup shopping. Although I didn’t get a pedi because balling on a budget, I got to soak my nasty feet and sit in a massage chair while Kristen got pampered and we had so much fun chit chatting and laughing with all of our favorite nail techies. Kristen got the Hello Kitty pink polish that I recently got on my nails on her toes and it looked so freaking cute! I can’t say that about my feet, but I’m glad that her toesies are on point just in time for flip flop season!

After pedicures, we went to the mall to ultimately spend what felt like forever in Sephora. I have actually never spent that much time in there before and it was surprisingly really fun. We tried on different lipsticks and browsed through the aisles pointing out ridiculous eyeshadow or lip colors and figuring out the best way for her to spend her gift card. Kristen ended up getting a gorgeous new lipstick and an eyebrow pencil as well as a birthday gift from the store (a blush and lip gloss) and some freebies that she got from cashing in the points on her reward card.

Although I tried on some okay-ish lipsticks, I just ended up going with a tube of the Better Than Sex mascara. Kristen got it for me for Christmas this year and since I’ve ran out, no other mascara can compare, so it was a must to get another one! I was really happy because the gift card that I got her covered everything that she wanted and she also got some super nice freebies, so she walked away with an awesome Sephora birthday haul.

Once we were done shopping, I treated Kristen to coffee and then dropped her off at her apartment so that she could get ready for the evening festivities. Our night was a boozy celebration of going to get margaritas with her friends and then hitting the bars afterwards for some more alcohol related fun. AND I also got to ride in my first Uber, so that was really exciting, lol. THE DRIVER WAS SO NICE!! #ubereverywhere

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(The lovely lady in the second photo, Kelsey, will be featured on lifewithlilred soon so keep your eyes peeled!)

The day after Kristen’s birthday was spent nursing a very worthwhile hangover and celebrating at home with the family. I know I had a blast and it felt really good knowing that Kristen did, too, and I like to think that I helped make that possible! Now, I’m just excited for my birthday to roll around in June so that she can return the favor!

So there you have it, this week’s Monday Update: Sister’s Birthday Celebration Edition! How did you celebrate your birthday this year? How did you spend your weekend? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Happy Birthday, Sister!!

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Happy Birthday, Sister!!

Hello everyone and happy weekend! Today is an amazing, special, wonderful day because it is my beautiful big sister’s 25th birthday! Kristen. My sister, my soulmate, my best friend on the face of the earth. Kristen is someone who my life would be absolutely impossible without. She is someone that I can go to for literally anything. To laugh, cry, complain, or just be there with to pass the time. My sister is one of the strongest women that I have ever met. Ever. She is a survivor, she is brave, and she has proven to herself and everyone around her that she can get through the worst of times and ultimately improve and better herself along the way. If that isn’t the definition of courage, then I really don’t know what is.

Kristen is someone who is kind. She is genuine, she has a huge heart, and she brings so much joy and light to everyone who she encounters. Her smile and laugh is contagious and her beauty is second to none both inside and out. If you can’t tell by now, my sister is my everything. I am so thankful not only for our sisterhood but for the friendship that came from it. You can have someone as a sibling and only view them as such, but Kristen is so much more for me than that.

From outings to the movies, shopping, the nail or hair salon, coffee, dinner, or just binge watching on Netflix, I treasure every minute that I spend with my sister. Don’t get me wrong, she drives me fucking crazy, but isn’t that what sisters do every now and then? And I promise you that she would say the same thing about me, but probably even more so!

The point that I’m trying to get at, is that I am so, so incredibly lucky to have my sister as, well, my sister. I love you more than anything, so here’s to you, you beautiful, fantastic, intelligent, loving, perfect girl. Happy birthday and I can’t wait to celebrate with you tonight!

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Happy Birthday, Kristen ❤

I FREAKING LOVE YOU!!

Happy Birthday, Dad!!

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Happy Birthday, Dad!!

Helloooo everyone and happy Thursday! Today is a wonderful, special, fabulous day because it’s my dad’s birthday!! Although my beloved father isn’t particularly fond of birthdays, I can’t not celebrate my handsome, charming, adoring dad here on lifewithlilred. There’s a saying that talks about how a dad is the first guy that a girl loves or something like that and it is so true because my dad is basically my number one. Let’s discuss all of the reasons why!

From a dry but silly sense of humor that occasionally results in laugh attacks to the compliments and approval that is always special when it comes from my father, my dad is the best. He plans the most wonderful vacations, he has two green thumbs, loves his backyard animal friends, and is always down to watch two episodes of Seinfeld in a row as a “double feature”. CHARLES has excellent taste in music, too. If you were to see him cruising around with his stunner shades on, chances are he’s listening to The Rolling Stones, The Black Keys, The Who, U2, and an abundance of other classics in a rock n’ roll lover’s arsenal.

My dad is just a cool guy. Seriously. So here’s to a man that makes me laugh, smile, feel increasingly warm with love, and, of course, some type of way! I love you, my daddy dearest. Happy birthday!!

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I LOVE YOU, DAD!!!! ❤

Happy Birthday, Mom!!

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Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Hi everyone and happy Hump Day! Today is a special day because it’s my mommy’s birthday!! As I’m sure that you guys have gathered by now, my mom is basically my best friend. We love to hang out together, cook, watch movies, go shopping, pet dogs, and play Scrabble. My mom is easily one of my favorite human beings on the planet and everyone who has the honor of knowing her feels similarly. It’s hard not to!

I am so thankful for having a mom who is as funny, smart, wonderful, and perfect as mine. Not to mention how caring, supportive, and encouraging she is. I can always count on good ol’ JANE to be there when I need to talk and am appreciative to have a mother who is a fantastic listener. No matter how my mom and I spend our time together, I always enjoy it because I am seriously in the best of company when I’m with her. I love you so much, mommy!

Happy Birthday!! ❤

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