Short of greeting guests at the door with a shot (think fiesta’s in Mexico when you wear your shot gloss around your neck), I believe a small cocktail upon arrival makes most folks feel very welcomed. Having a punch pre-chilled as well is a great excuse to pull out a fun bowl for people to gather around. Large pitchers of ice water with fresh lemon are gorgeous and an easy way for people to help themselves while you cook. The wine accompanying the meal should be chosen with care for pairing reasons. I am not going to wine snob out here, but you don’t want all of your hard culinary efforts wasted with the palate numbing rudeness of a bad bottle of vino. If someone brings a bottle, set it aside for later if it doesn’t meld into menu. The exception to this rule an incredible bottle of wine. Open it and get it breathing, invite this amazing giver back to every future supper party.
Appetizers should be plentiful, delectable and easy to eat. I have some standard crowd pleasers and when people ask with wonder, “what issss this?” Followed by the full-mouth muffled, “it’s delicious”. I am filled happiness beyond words.
Your main course should have a nice balance of meat, vegetables and starches. Bread of some sort is non-negotiable and should be fresh from the oven if time permits. Having several food options on the table takes the pressure your friends to eat something they don’t care for. Before the supper date I always text or email my guests asking for any food allergies or dislikes. This is not the time to coerce them into trying mushrooms or turning them into oyster lovers. Wanting them to savor everything is the real goal here. The accouterments here will be the homemade butter, salad dressing along with a brown butter or some other amazing sauce. Wow factor should never be minimized, we want these guests to leave well fed and feeling loved. If you put your heart and some creativity into the meal, I guarantee they will.