Throw a Dessert Party
If you have ever planned a dinner party, you know that it can take a lot of careful work, especially if you invite enough guests to fill up your dining table. Next time you’re in the mood to entertain, consider a dessert party instead. This takes some of the pressure off of you to cook or order a big meal, plus it can even be fun to plan and provide your guests the opportunity to indulge in some decadent recipes.
Start by deciding if you want to incorporate a theme into your dessert party or prefer to spread your treats out on a buffet table and let the colorful sweets do the talking. Let your imagination run wild, but also keep your guests in mind. Think about whether you plan to have children attend or stick to an evening for the grownups. If you plan to invite kids, opt for something fun and relaxed, whereas think about sticking to something more sophisticated for adults-only parties. If you find yourself stumped, here are some examples of excellent dessert party themes:
- Cupcakes: Bake as many different cupcakes and flavors as you like and provide your guests with a number of icing options as well as various toppings.
- Ice Cream Bar: Ice cream bars are great for a hot summer day. Buy or make several types of basic ice cream flavors and provide guests with toppings like syrup, nuts, candies, fruit and sprinkles. Don’t forget the waffle cones.
- Brownie Bar: Brownie bars are similar to ice cream bars, only you bake and serve several pans of brownies instead of serving ice cream. Of course, for something really decadent, you can include a few flavors of ice cream to pile atop warm brownies.
- Finger Foods Only: Eliminate the need for silverware and serve up some sweets like cookies, brownies and pastries that you can eat with your fingers.
- French Treats: From macarons to eclairs, French cuisine is known for its pastries, cookies and sweet treats. Serve only French foods, and be sure to decorate accordingly. Adults might like some champagne on the side, while sparkling apple cider is a crowd-pleaser for kids.
- Childhood Favorites: If you’re inviting a group of friends over who are close to you in age, consider an assortment of your childhood favorites, but elevate them. Include the candy that was popular when you were a kid, along with classics like chocolate chip cookies, ice cream floats and s'mores.
- Fruity Desserts: If your guests like fruit, consider making it the center of attention. Apple pie, lemon bars and banana splits are just a few of the dozens of desserts you can serve. You can even keep your ingredients local and seasonal. For example, if you live in Georgia, otherwise known as The Peach State, dish up some peach-flavored desserts.
- Tropical Treats: Whether it’s summertime and you need some refreshing or it’s wintertime and you long for crystal-blue waters and white sandy beaches, a tropical-themed party can hit the spot. Ideas for dishes include key lime pie, shaved ice, coconut cake and pineapple upside-down cake.
Once you’ve decided on a theme, begin inviting your guests. Personalized paper invitations may seem old-fashioned, but they’re so much more fun than a quick text message. Be sure to have anyone who RSVPs let you know about any special dietary restrictions. This can help you plan your menu or add additional dishes for people with food sensitivities; if you have a diabetic friend, a few sugar-free options can help him or her find something to enjoy.
After you’ve taken care of your theme and invitations, begin planning your menu. Try to serve at least four or five unique dishes, and keep in mind that you can bake some items ahead and freeze them. Also consider what beverages you plan to serve with your desserts. Children may prefer milk, juice or soda, while adults might enjoy elegant glasses of champagne, wine or demitasse cups of espresso.
You should also do a quick inventory of your kitchen to make sure you have the right equipment for all of that baking. Ice cream scoops, baking sheets, mixing bowls and spatulas are all must-haves. You may also want to have an assortment of attractive serving dishes, bowls, platters and cake plates, as well as dishes, glasses and silverware for your guests.
When it’s time to set up the party, have fun keeping the focus on all the exciting food available. Beautiful platters and dishes can help with that. Other items you can use as part of your decor may include candles, doilies, cupcake holders, string lights, a nice tablecloth and fresh flowers in an attractive vase. You may also choose some fun background music to match your theme, such as ukulele or beach music for your tropical-themed party. Dessert parties do not necessarily require your guests to sit down at a table to eat, but be sure to provide plenty of seating and create some lounging zones that help guests mingle while they eat.