Sunday, April 25, 2010

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Throwing a successful dinner party is one of life's true pleasures.

Sure, there’s work involved – but on the up side, your house will be clean for at least a week, you’ll have wonderful foods in your fridge, and most of your guests will bring you a bottle of wine as a hostess gift!

With these helpful tips, you’ll find that pulling off a great dinner party isn’t the daunting task you imagined.

- You don't have to deep-clean your house before the party, but you should get rid of any clutter. If you're really pressed for time, toss everything in your bedroom and declare that room off-limits.

And obviously don’t overlook cleaning the bathroom – chances are every guest will visit here at least once. If you light several candles in the bathroom, your guests won’t feel the need to turn on the bright overhead lights (i.e. revealing that the room isn’t totally spotless).

- Speaking of lighting, turn off all unflattering overhead lights. Cluster candles together to create that w

arm, magical glow throughout the house.

- Instead of a full bar, serve up one signature cocktail, like the Cocopolitan, a tropical twist on the classic Cosmo:


1 1/2 ounce Coconut Vodka

1/2 ounce Cointreau

3/4 ounce cranberry juice

1 twist of lime


Combine in a shaker all the ingredients and shake.

Chill a cocktail glass, pour and serve with a twist of lime.

- It's always the guests themselves who make or break a party. When deciding who to invite, always choose an interesting mix of characters. And – unless you are a drama junkie - don't invite friends who get along poorly with one another to the same party.

At the table, try to seat talkers next to listeners and keep spouses, best friends, and conversation hogs at opposite ends of the table. Start things off by talking about some hot subject: anything in the news or a controversial movie. Almost any subject is okay and shouldn't be considered taboo if your guests are open-minded people.

- A dinner party themed around a wine tasting is a great ice-breaker and something for guests to talk about from the moment they arrive. Visit for a crash

course in the perfect pairings to offer your guests. From a Cabernet with cheese and crackers to a fine Port with the featured Ghirardelli dessert, your guests will be impressed with your newfound knowledge.

Featured Recipe

Ghirardelli Chocolate Dessert Cups

For the grand finale, serve a stunning sweet to your guests in these edible dessert cups! The cups can be filled with just about anything – ice cream, fresh fruit, mousse, sorbet – and can be made a few days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.


1 1/2 pounds Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet, Milk, or Dark Chocolate Chips

8 small round balloons, inflated to a 4-inch diameter and knotted (thoroughly washed and dried)

Wax paper


In double boiler over hot water, melt half of the chocolate.

Cool until lukewarm (so balloons will not burst) but still melted.

Holding a balloon by the knot, dip and roll the balloon in the chocolate until the bottom half is completely covered.

Place the balloon, knot side up, on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and hold the balloon in place until the chocolate starts to set.

Repeat the steps with the remaining balloons and then place in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Melt the remaining half of the chocolate and repeat the dipping procedure.

Place the balloons in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

Cut a hole in each balloon and once deflated carefully peel the balloon away from the chocolate.

Fill with the sweet of your choice.

Tip: After dipping, drizzle cups with contrasting color melted chocolate.

And remember, the key to any great party is for the host to have as much fun as the guests!