Food Bloggers' Best Party Tips

Top food writers share their dinner party disasters and what they learned from themTop food writers share their dinner party disasters and what they learned from themDinner party disasters come in so many forms -a guest announces they have a severe nut allergy just as the pecan pie comes out of the oven, that new recipe you've been dying to try is a complete failure, and wait, how many pounds of meat per person is it? But dinner parties don't have to be stressful. We've turned to food bloggers and writers, the people whose job it is to inspire us by sharing their recipes and stories about cooking and eating, for their best dinner party tips.

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Wondering what acclaimed cookbook author Melissa Clark cooks (or rather, doesn't) when hosting guests? Or perhaps your chocolate cake is underbaked (or fell on the ground) - what then would a pro do? Armed with advice from these experienced hosts, you can confront your next shindig with confidence.

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When it comes to hosting a dinner party, there are a few basic rules that these talented bloggers adhere to. Keep it simple, cook something you've made before, and choose a dish that you can prepare most of ahead of time.

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That said, no matter what your dinner party style is, remember that it doesn't take the hand of Martha Stewart to create a special evening. Natalie Slater of Bake and Destroy reveals, "My get-togethers are always super casual, people come over, we have pizza and watch a movie - no big deal." Even food bloggers understand that all parties don't have to be a monumental event. The best meals are often about the company that you share them with.

Veer/Yuri ArcursVeer/Yuri ArcursBe True to Your Hunger
After years of throwing dinner parties with perhaps a bit too much enthusiasm, Berlin-based food blogger of The Wednesday Chef (and former cookbook editor), Luisa Weiss, now takes a more pared-down approach. "It may be fun to plan elaborate menus in advance, imagining your guests as they nibble on complicated hors d'oeuvres, multi-layered entrées and a towering dessert," but then reality sets in.

"I noticed this most acutely at a dinner I threw two years ago. I spent days figuring out the menu. The night of the dinner, my guests happily ate everything in sight, but somewhere between the days of planning and hours of cooking, my appetite went entirely out the window. All I wanted for dinner was a bowl of cereal with cold milk."

Istock/BalonciciIstock/BalonciciStay From the Norm
Just because we might indulge in an appetizer, entrée, and dessert when dining out doesn't mean we have to include all three when entertaining, says Weiss. "I no longer try to make everything from soup to nuts from scratch. If there will be dessert, I skip an appetizer. If I'm making an appetizer, the guests get fruit after dinner. And I always try to keep in mind that a beautiful cheese plate is as stunning as a homemade dessert and a lot easier to put together (though not necessarily cheaper)."

Istock/foodandwinephotographyIstock/foodandwinephotographyBalance the Elaborate with the Simple
For Boston-based French expatriate Béa Peltre, author of the blog La Tartine Gourmande and cookbook of the same name, impressing her dinner party guests doesn't mean everything is made fresh from scratch at home. "Try not to overdo it. If you want to prepare a meal to impress friends, I find it works best to have an appetizer or a dessert that will wow your friends, and maybe a more humble main. Or vice versa, have an easy appetizer or dessert and a more elaborate main course."

istock/shorrocksistock/shorrocksBe Relaxed (and Keep Quiet)
Dinner parties and disaster seem to go hand in hand. There is the time you lost the platter of meatballs, or the cocktail "hour" ran too long because you lost track of time. But that's not the case for Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert. "I've actually never had a dinner party gone wrong." She's had dishes not turn out the way expected, and even dropped a cake, but her dinners were never a disaster.

"My own dinner party style is very relaxed, and when I forget something or things don't turn out 100 percent the way I expected, I just keep quiet about it. Nobody has to know that you meant to make a dressing or that the lovely trifle was originally meant to be a cake until you dropped it. I've even served underbaked chocolate cake and called it 'molten lava;' people loved it! It's all about being creative and quick on your feet."

istock/pears2295istock/pears2295Don't Beat Yourself Up
Should something not go as planned, "never ever beat yourself up in front of your guests," advises Ramos. "It makes them uncomfortable and then they won't be able to ignore your mistake. Just pretend that's totally what you meant to do, and people will never notice. (Or they'll notice, but won't say anything about it to your face, which is just fine with me!)"

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- Michelle Kiefer, The Daily Meal

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