When good food and great people come together, memorable moments tend to happen. Hosting a dinner party can be stressful, especially when you’re trying to lose weight yourself. We put together this list of ideas to help you create a great night for your guests that’s good for you, too.
1. Choose your vibe.
Set up your party for fun by planning it with a theme in mind. The theme can be subtle and known only to you, but it will help guide decisions about the kinds of food you have and how you serve it. The best themes are clear and simple, like casual elegance, fiesta night, bohemian, vintage or beach party. You can even make your theme based on the season, such as spring or fall.
2. Guest check.
So many people today have special food preferences and concerns. Before you plan the menu for your dinner party, send out a message asking your guests to let you know if they have allergies or intolerance to certain ingredients, if they are vegan, or have faith-based dietary guidelines. You don’t want to find out on the night of your party!
3. Signature drink.
Many hosts like to offer a pre-made cocktail along with the usual wine and beer. We like to mix up mocktails, such as Must-Have Mojitos, Skinny White Sangria or Sparkling Pomegranate Punch. They can be served with or without alcohol so everyone can choose for themselves. If you’re on Nutrisystem, you can enjoy one alcoholic drink at a dinner party.
4. Mediterranean style.
A “mezze” platter is an easy, sophisticated and healthy appetizer to serve or bring along when you’re a guest. This “grazing board” includes pita bread, hummus and other dips, cheeses, olives, nuts, and fresh or dried fruit. The ingredients are arranged on a platter or cutting board, so each guest can take what they like. You can balance your plate with PowerFuels, such as cheese, nuts or olives, and SmartCarbs like whole grain crackers and fruit. Charcuterie boards are also a great idea for your healthy dinner party.
5. Build it yourself.
A customizable entrée can be a simple solution to pleasing lots of different palates. It also lets you stick to your healthy diet! Set up a baked potato bar with all the fixings, including light sour cream, low-fat cheese, turkey bacon bits, chopped chives and balsamic vinegar. Tacos, fajitas and salads are also easy to turn into a DIY bar, making them great options for diverse tastes.
6. Prep and freeze.
Make the day of the dinner party easier for yourself by cooking some of the dishes in advance and freezing them. Our Twice Baked Cauliflower Casserole is an indulgent yet healthy side that can be reheated while you mingle.
7. Stop the pick.
Sampling food before serving it is always a good idea but beware of munching all day as you cook. It’s easy to eat a whole meal’s worth of calories while picking from each dish as you’re preparing it.
8. Set up to clean up.
Your after-party will be much easier if you think beforehand about cleaning up. Make trash cans accessible to guests. Decide where you want dirty dishes and let guests know with a simple sign. Plan for guests who offer to help with clearly defined tasks that help you.
9. Distribute leftovers.
Avoid the temptation of eating party food for several days by offering leftovers to guests. Be prepared with disposable containers so you can pack them up and hand them off easily.
10. Plan for fun.
If your guests all know each other, chances are the conversation will flow naturally. But if you have people meeting for the first time, think of a couple simple games and conversation starters to get the evening flowing. “Two Truths and One Lie” is a fun way to learn about people—it can even be revealing about those you already know. A guest will share three facts about themselves, but one of them isn’t true. Take turns guessing which is the falsehood. Ask everyone to talk about their first job. Binge-worthy movies and TV shows, favorite music and best trips are other good, non-controversial topics. The connections made with other people are the real nourishment we all get from dinner parties.