- Do the shopping the day before the party. Pick up all the nonperishables, hardy produce, and alcohol. Chicken, beef, and some fish can even be purchased up to 24 hours in advance.
- Keep the guest list small. Don't invite over a huge group of people. Create an intimate party of no more than six and you won't have to cook as much food.
- Leave work the earliest you can. Be productive during the day and head home as soon as work is over, so you have plenty of time to prep and cook.
- Select an easy menu of dishes that require little prep (roast chicken and potatoes) or are quick-cooking (seared fish).
- Serve assembled appetizers and store-bought dessert. Olives, a chunk of parmesan cheese, and a plate of prosciutto and melon require no cooking. All you have to do is put the food on a platter. Likewise, with dessert, offer ice cream and fresh in-season fruit. Or make ice cream sandwiches with your favorite cookies and ice cream.
- Set the table in the morning. The day of the dinner, before you leave the house for work, set the table with plates, utensils, cloth napkins, and votive candles.
- Keep things informal. Invite your guests into the kitchen with you and ask them to even help with the dinner.
- When you get home from work, pour yourself a glass of wine; it will relieve any of the stress!
Do you host weeknight dinner parties? Share your experiences below!