It takes a special hostess to successfully get a group of seven New Yorkers together for a rooftop dinner party. With conflicting schedules and typically uncooperative weather, it was a minor miracle that Paula, a good friend of mine, got us all on the same rooftop at the same time for a beautifully prepared evening.
Every detail was thoughtfully considered—from the guest list to the décor to the music—and we passed a very pleasant evening eating, drinking and enjoying each other's company. Impressed, I asked Paula to share what it took to single-handedly host a dinner for seven. She graciously offered these great tips:
Paula's 5 Tips for Throwing a Successful Dinner Party1. Create a detailed timeline Work backwards from the start time to figure out when you'll need to prep and cook your dishes to have everything ready. Also, make sure not to over-book your oven and stove space (an unfortunate reality in tiny New York kitchens)! Having a timeline will alleviate a lot of stress and help you deal with any unexpected problems.
2. A little effort can go a long way Elevating your party from ho-hum to WOW is all in the details. It can be as easy as throwing sliced lemons and oranges into chilled water. It takes very little time or expense and adds that special touch. Look out for the small things you can do to make a big impact.
3. Let the flowers do the hard work There's no need to buy expensive décor in order to set an elegant scene. New York City's flower district is a great place to find fresh and unique flowers to liven up your table. Your local farmer's market, florist or even grocery store is also a great place to look. Create low floral arrangements so guests can see each other and converse over the blooms. Pint-sized mason jars are inexpensive and work well as vases—they're just the right height.
4. Lighting is key One small votive in a quart-sized mason jar (well, a dozen of these) is all you need for a nice glow. And nothing beats candlelight to set the mood.
5. Get everyone involved Have the majority of prep finished by the time guests arrive but allow them to pitch in once they're there. Whether arranging the lighting around the rooftop, setting out the napkins and silverware or queuing up the music, encouraging your guests to interact helps break the ice!
Our lovely hostess
THE MENUCOCKTAILSMojitos and assorted Meats & CheesesSTARTERWatermelon, Feta & Mint SaladMAINFusilli with Roasted Eggplant & Goat CheesePanko & Parsley-Crusted SalmonSIDESFingerling Potatoes with Parsley & Truffle OilSauteed Green Beans with ShallotsDESSERTSummer Peach & Blueberry Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream
Now go get started on your own dinner party and be sure to share your experiences with us!