Dinner Party Menu Ideas from a Los Angeles Event Planner

This time of year can be the most fun to host a party but for some people it can be very stressful. Deciding upon a menu alone is reason enough for some people to just pack it in, eat out and forget about planning a holiday dinner all together.

Having been a Los Angeles event planner for over 15 years, here are a few tips I would like to share with you in order for you to keep in mind when thinking of dinner party menu ideas over the next six weeks.

First and foremost, know your guests. Do they have any food allergies or major dislikes? I always ask when I extend the invitation to ensure everyone will enjoy the food.

Second, like any other event, determine your budget.  Can you substitute food items to keep your costs down?  For example, maybe serve a steak and arugula salad or some type of beef appetizer instead of filet mignon as one of the main course items.

Here are some other dinner party menu ideas to help keep costs in control.  For appetizers, serve various dips and tapenades and antipasti such as Italian meats, cheeses and olives.  These food items can be arranged beautifully and make any appetizer buffet look full and save you money.

The Los Angeles event planner in me is steadfast on my third rule, plan ahead! For all of my dinner parties, I make the list well in advance and then three days out start shopping for the food items.  Obviously, certain items can be bought and made in advance, others day-of. Plan early to avoid the stress of putting it all together the day of your party.

Here are some other dinner party menu ideas you can use at your next event. Keep it simple, if you are not much of a cook, then just do the basics or prepare what you make best. For appetizers, cheeses, olives, cocktail shrimp with sauce. And for dinner:

Caesar Salad with Parmesan Crisps

Herbed Tri-Tip Roast

Au Gratin Potatoes

Grilled Vegetables

Flourless Chocolate Cookies with Marshmallows and Ice Cream

The recipes for these items along with other dinner party menu ideas, helpful party tips and more can be found in Budget Bash. Click here to get your copy.

Again, make it easy on yourself. The Caesar salad dressing can be made in advance as well as the au gratin potatoes (just re-heat the potatoes night-of). You can always steam your veggies if you don’t have access to a grill and make the cookies in advance too!

I hope you found these dinner party menu ideas helpful. As a Los Angeles event planner, I know what it takes to put together an event, and no matter if it is for 4 or 400, it’s still hard work!  Until next time, remember the Budget Bash mantra: make it simple, stylish, fun and economical for all!

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