August 27, 2018

6 Keys to an Easy Dinner Party with Plated

With Plated, entertaining has never been so easy!

Summer Entertaining Made Easy

The summer might be winding down, but we’re not ready to say goodbye to this most carefree season just yet! Before Labor Day comes and goes, we wanted to have a casual dinner party at home, as a way to kiss summer goodbye and embrace the start of fall.

Now, it’s confession time: I’m not a cook. Better put, I don’t cook. At one point in time, I did cook! In fact, after graduating from college, I was completely gung ho with cooking a dinner every day of the week. I’d try new recipes all the time! Granted, they were basic recipes like pastas and casseroles and crock pot recipes. But still, I did it! But these days, I have to admit I don’t cook often.

But I do love to entertain! I love to have girlfriends over to the house. In fact, I’ll use any excuse for a celebration – like the end of summer! Enter Plated into the equation to assist me with food, and I can take it from there! So, we are thrilled to partner with Plated; it’s such a natural fit. Truly, it’s exactly what I need in the kitchen!

So, keep on reading for the six keys to an easy summer dinner party that you’ll be able to throw together in no time!

6 Keys to an Easy Dinner Party

1. Let someone else help with cooking

As we said, Plated is the meal delivery kit for true food lovers. When we host a dinner party, we want to serve something delicious and easy so that the focus is on the guests and food – not the stress of planning, shopping and preparation. When everything is prepped for you and all you have to do is throw it on the stove top or in the oven it makes it so much easier! Better yet, invite your friends to help! Cooking together can be quite fun.

If you’re unfamiliar with Plated, it is a meal delivery kit sent right to your door, which offers convenience, menu inspiration, and efficiency. And they had us at convenience! And then once we tried the food, we knew we were really hooked. The fast and fun recipe options, the less than 30 minute prep time, five ingredients or less, and minimal pots and pans needed made this entire cooking experience such a pleasure.

And these pastas were amazing! All the girls were raving about them. Plus, the lemon tarts were the perfect refreshing dessert at the end! And it was such a pleasure to not have to turn on the oven to make the dessert. The lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk chilled in the graham cracker crusts until set, and the almond poppy seed crumble was the most scrumptious garnish.

2. Bring the outdoors inside

When I first began contemplating this dinner party, I actually was imagining an outdoor garden party the flowers and such. But then reality hit, and I remembered that I live in Houston and it is hot and humid here! So, we focused on bringing the outdoors in – particularly flowers and greenery., we all know it’s too hot to eat outside in the summer so we’re bringing the outdoors in with a big emphasis on flowers.

When bringing your vision to fruition, it doesn’t hurt to have a florist friend! That’s right – our friend Holly from Flower Vibes helped us create a floral table runner and a floral chandelier. As for the floral table runner, it was actually pretty simple. Just start with a greenery garland for the base. Then mix in darling mini vases with individual flowers of different heights! As for the floral chandelier, well stay tuned! We have a DIY floral chandelier post coming soon, so you can create your own!


3. Provide place cards that double as party favors

What’s a party without party favors?! Everyone loves receiving a gift! Party favors don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Just think of something creative and personal that can do double duty as a place card! Our friend Kristara created these watercolor calligraphy place cards that we added to mini flower arrangements that act as place settings and double as a gift for our guests.

4. Conceive a color theme

It’s always fun (and in our minds, necessary!) to have a color theme throughout your party or event. As we say around here – more color, please! And in this case, we loved the idea of using citrus colors to celebrate summer and further emphasize our outdoor theme.

5. Serve food family style

Keep it casual and celebratory and informal and fun by serving the dinner family style. This is a way to keep it no fuss and extra fun! It’s more interactive and it’s great when everyone can share and try everything. Indeed, family style is the best way to enjoy a meal with friends who are like family!

6. Create a cocktail to complement the food

We chose to make the classic Italian cocktail, the Negroni, to complement the Italian dishes we chose from Plated. We recommend prepping this ahead of time in a pitcher and letting your friends serve themselves. Again, this is another tip that allows you to focus on enjoying your guests.

Negroni Cocktail


Combine gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in an ice-filled Old-Fashioned glass or any glass you prefer.

Stir gently.

Garnish with an orange twist. We like to top it off with Prosecco, too!

Recipe from Bon Appetit

+ print recipe


  • 2 tablespoons gin
  • 2 tablespoons Campari
  • 2 tablespoons sweet vermouth
  • 1 orange twist
  • Prosecco (optional)

At the end of the day, when having guests over, you want them to feel comfortable, relaxed, and ultimately, have fun! You want them to leave your party wishing it could have lasted longer and excited for the next gathering. And you want to have fun yourself! Plated made it so easy for us to pull this party together and we loved the finished product!

A few more things

What are your tips for hosting a casual, fun dinner party? We’d love to hear in the comments below!

If you’re interested in trying Plated, which we highly recommend, you can use code CARRIE40 for 40% off of your first two orders.

Enjoy and have a great day!


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  1. Jenny says:

    This is the most fun I’ve ever had cooking!

    1. You and me both, girl! Both delicious and beautiful.

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