Caught yourself overthinking about what to prepare for a movie night with your friends or perhaps for the birthday party you’re hosting next month? No need to stress yourself out. I’ve got a few simple entertaining ideas ready to help you feed a crowd regardless of the special occasion you’re celebrating.
Having your family and friends over, chatting and bonding over a spread of delicious dishes creates beautiful memories that will stay with you for years to come. Yet, deciding on what you want to serve and how to plan everything can be a challenging task, especially when you have little experience entertaining guests at home.
Even though now I enjoy hosting parties, it took me years to get comfortable entertaining, not to mention cooking for larger crowds. Luckily, Gus and my boys have been the most supportive food tasters and critics I could have had.
If you’re looking to build confidence when celebrating at home, my advice is to start by inviting people you feel most comfortable with. Think close friends and family members that you wouldn’t mind cooking in front of in case you were running behind or even asking for help with plating up a dish or placing the food on the table.
6 fun ways to celebrate special occasions at home
There are the three key steps I follow when I’m hosting that allow me to keep the experience stress-free: prepare ahead, simplify, and enjoy yourself.
That means I choose simple recipes with minimal steps and ingredients and tackle food prepping and make-ahead dishes in the days before the event. Plus, I make the most out of the time I get to spend with my guests. Unwashed dishes, worries about the food being warm enough, or garnishes and decorations looking perfect shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the gathering.
As my passion for cooking flourished, I gradually began sharing my tried-and-tested traditional Middle Eastern recipes with my friends and family by hosting dinner parties at home. Here are 6 simple ideas you can try if you plan to have a home celebration anytime soon.
1. Throwing a dinner party
The key to hosting a dinner party is planning the menu and blocking off time for activities such as going shopping, prepping the ingredients, cooking, and so on in the week before the gathering.
If you’re not used to being a host, having a clear timeline of what you need to do for the dinner party will take most of the pressure off your shoulders and help you stay organised. Take a look at my party planning checklist for more tips and tricks on how to organise a celebration at home.
2. Setting a buffet dinner table
The more casual alternative to the dinner party is having food served buffet-style on a separate table or on the kitchen bench. This way, guests can easily choose what they want to eat by trying a bit of everything you’ve prepared. Moreover, the buffet dinner table setup makes guests feel more at home and allows them to mix and mingle as they build their plates.
3. Hosting a barbecue
Don’t know about you, but charcoal barbecues are my favourite way to entertain guests. The relaxed atmosphere of a backyard barbecue is perfect for lazy summer days — marinated meat sizzling on the barbecue, fresh salads, dips, and other savoury side dishes spread on the table, and everyone enjoying a cold, refreshing glass of jallab.
From the mouth-watering lamb cutlets and lamb back-strap marinade to the spicy chilli avocado hummus and the classic fattoush salad, don’t miss out on my go-to Middle Eastern barbecue recipes that will leave your guest asking for seconds.
4. Creating a grazing table
Grazing tables are a low-fuss choice if you’re organising a party. Whether it’s a birthday, graduation party, an engagement party, or a weekend family gathering, you can’t go wrong with a grazing table filled with a fantastic selection of finger foods and appetisers.
Pay attention to how you arrange the food on the table so that the guests feel drawn in to try the delicious dishes you’ve prepared. Get inspired with this Middle Eastern grazing table I’ve created for a pre-formal party. There’s also an entire list of snacks, mini desserts, and dips you can choose from when making your grazing table.
5. Putting together a cheeseboard
Perfect for holidays, girls’ nights, birthday parties or everyday entertaining, cheese boards are an eye-catching, colourful and delicious addition to any party. If their overflowing yet artistic look intimidates you, know that creating a cheese board is quite easy if you have simple step-by-step instructions to guide you along the process.
Want to surprise your partner with an easy yet fancy-looking appetiser? Here’s how you can put together a cheese board for two for your at-home date night.
6. Making a backyard picnic
Picnics are a lovely occasion to gather your loved ones and celebrate outdoors with delicious homemade snacks, drinks, and fun board games. Add some fairy lights and a bottle of wine and you’ve got a cozy date for you and your partner. Or get a movie projector and a plain white sheet and watch your favourite movies with your friends.
When it comes to food, stick with bite-sized snacks like cold sandwiches, crackers, veggie sticks, nuts, cheeses, and fresh fruits. Don’t forget to check out my blog for easy picnic food ideas with a Middle Eastern twist.
Let the party begin
Whichever idea you go with, remember that a beautiful celebration comes down to three basic things: good company, good food and good laughs.
For more delicious content on celebrations, don’t forget to check out my latest blogs:
- Ramadan – What It Means For Me [ +10 Easy Iftar Recipes]
- 5 Reasons Why Eid Is So Special To Me
- Easter In The Middle East
- Step-By-Step Middle Eastern Christmas Lunch Menu