Cruising a foodie group on Facebook one member’s query kind of stuck out in my mind. It was something like, “Does anyone do dinner parties anymore?” About half of the comments, if not more, said no. Due to pets, small dining spaces, children, busy schedules and a lack of ideas.

That lack of ideas on what to do for a dinner party got my mind racing. I never run out of ideas. Granted we have a kitchen made for entertaining, and a home that has managed events for up to 75 people, but the size of our kitchen isn’t where our dinner party ideas stem from.

It stems from our interests not only in food preparation and presentation, but also with the wine and/or spirits we want to serve to complement our meals.

If we go back a few decades we began as young married couples often do: experimenting in the kitchen. I happened to share my kitchen with a firefighter that was used to cooking for a dozen or more crew members. Hence, we always had too much. (Truth be told this is still a problem!) We had pals that lived close by that were more than willing to come up for a ready made meal, bring wine, and our Thursday Night Dinners began.

Every other week we walked over to see the Andrews, and they came over to our house on the weeks when it was our turn. Eventually other friends got wind of our dinners and they grew – with more couples and more wine than we really wanted to partake in on a week night.

Fast forward to our third home in Awesometown. Our kitchen prep area is probably four or five times greater than the kitchen was in our starter home was. And now we knew that the kitchen was where the action was. Ed had become an excellent cook, as most fire fighters are, and I was happy to be his sous chef.

Now we plan monthly dinner parties, with a rotating set of pals (as we are all so busy everyone is not always free) and still enjoy the menu planning as well as pulling wines from our cellar to pair. Over the years I have also enjoyed hosting meetings for the different events I’m working on, as well as a monthly Brainstormer’s Group - and these are mostly potluck with some kind of wine or spirit tasting I throw in for fun.

These are the different ideas we’ve tried over the years:

  • We did a large wine event with five different tasting stations where guests moved from room to room, outside to inside, and returned to the kitchen for the final pairing.
  • Hosted a jam-making class!
  • The “Buck Bar” idea borrowed from Lesley and David Solmonson’s book “The Twelve Bottle Bar” where guests are prompted to replace the vodka in a Moscow Mule with rye, bourbon or scotch, and the lime with orange or lemon. Just crafting your own cocktail with all the bartender tools is fun!
  • Pot lucks with everyone bringing one of their prized homemade dishes – can’t ever go wrong with that.
  • Gin or vodka tastings – those are not so usual – after dining.
  • After dinner put on a movie like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that you can talk over.
  • I’ve done chocolate tastings where I’ve guided guests to go from dark to light, with some wine and port as well, to see how the chocolate flavors develop and change when we study them.
  • An adult Pinata with tiny plastic booze bottles.
  • Make friends with restaurant owners – they make you want to up your game!
  • Play Apples to Apples, or any easy to play game for families, after dinner.
  • Single malt scotch tastings, with minor pairings like grilled sausage and Snicker bars!
  • Wine and Junk Food pairing. We like popcorn and sparkling wine and chocolate candy with Zinfandel – with a lot in between. You have to do some experimenting before you plan this one.
  • After a dinner: blind wine tastings, single varietal tastings, aroma lessons…

So if you were on the fence about planning a fun dinner party I hope this article helped to get your creative juices working. And if you need more assistance, or a really fun guest, you know where to find me!

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a "certification in first globally-recognized course" as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com