I want to host a get-together for my four best girl friends, but I refuse to do the same old routine dinner party: guests arrive, mingle over drinks and appetizers as I hibernate in the kitchen, slaving away oer the stovetop. Not only am I stressed out and unable to enjoy the food and converse with my pals, defeating the purpose of inviting them over in the first place, but the heat of the stove and general rigmarole leaves my hair and makeup all but what I originated with. Then it came to me. A stress free solution: the do-it-yourself dinner party.
It all started with the invitations, which I made myself out of black card paper, adhesive sequins, and a metallic marker. The RSVP portion of the invites is D-I-Y for the guests, with supplies (red card, ample sequins, a bow, stickers, and a marker) included.
Place settings at a ladies dinner party should be easy but still noticeable. Your finest crystal is beyond unnecessary, yet standard round paper plates and napkins are sub par. At Target, I found simple black modern squared dinner and appetizer plates and vivified them with these humorous "personal listing" napkins, which conveniently coordinated with my invitations. Plastic wine glasses and silverwear, on the other hand, are a no-go - they always look cheap unless you're at an outdoor picnic. Plus, silverwear and glasses are easy to clean or throw in the dishwaster post-party. I placed my plates and napkins with stemless wine glasses and silverwear, with sleek wipeable placemats underneath because, as you can tell, it's all about being practical yet still swank.
Now for the food: the hors d'oeuvre is a dip bar with cracked pepper toasts, roasted red pepper dip, olive tapenade, and portabella mushroom dip. Each is easy to prepare if you own a food processor (the tapenade is as simple as combining olive oil, kalamata olives, capers, salt, pepper, and garlic), but also just as easy to buy and set up yourself: no one will know the difference and it will save you some time. The main course is D-I-Y Mediterranean personal pizzas - so fun, easy, delicious, and not to mention healthy, which an important consideration in your menu. In multicolored serving bowls, I arranged the whole wheat crusts, hummus (the tomato sauce substitute), roasted peppers, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, and olives. This was a practical way to get everyone involved and avoid having to dole out recipes! In tandem with the D-I-Y theme and Mediterranean entree, I planned D-I-Y fruit kebabs for dessert. I bought an assortment of fruit, cut it into various cubes, and placed them in a compartmentalized serving bowl alongside wooden skewers.
As a hostess, I want my outfit to be comfortable and charming simultaneously, but never too casual. A belted skirt and semi-sheer blouse (which is appropriate for evening) with booties and a statement necklace was the answer. The booties are fantastic because they are a bearable heel to host in. Since you're working with food, a cocktail ring or armwear is usually prohibiting. A great necklace can stay on without getting in the way, and this one can be layered as many times as needed. I always love a good mixed-metal necklace because they go with everything, day to night. Remember that you always get more mileage out of a piece when it is more transitional. I left my hair simple and blow-dried, with equally simple but elegant makeup. Starting with the eyes, I used a grey and pale pink palette (Cannage in Dawn Grey by Christian Dior) with the silver shade as the base, the pink for the lid, the charcoal for the contour, and the black along the lash lines, atop my waterproof liner (Espresso by Chanel). With two layers of Nars 'Larger Than Life' mascara in black, I swiped Revlon's 'Blushing Berry' on my cheeks and a fuschia lip color (Pink Sapphire by Lancome) to match it. With makeup for this dinner party, it's important to be realistic with time but to have fun, which the few products and hot pink lip color provide. Finally, I sprayed the new Fendi scent on, Fan di Fendi: with its base note of leather, it easily compliments my ensemble!
Skirt, Blouse, and Belt: The Kooples, Necklace: Intermix, Booties: Rag & Bone
Now, for the dessert after the dessert, the party favors: D-I-Y necklaces, of course! Beads, chains, and clasps are available at craft stores such as Michaels, or it's fun to buy interested necklaces at F21 or Target and disassemble them for additional props. At a nearby table, I set up the supplies and had the girls make as they desired. The results were so different and wonderful. They each took home a keepsake for them to wear and always remember how much fun we had - the chicest friendship necklaces around!