Call us crazy, but there are few things we love more than hosting a dinner party. Yes, planning a menu, executing an attractive table setting and playing hostess with the mostess can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Make putting together a last-minute party a snap by choosing the most intimidating aspects and letting the experts do what they do best.
Here’s your blueprint for pulling together a completely turnkey, last-minute party and wildly festive affair. We wanted a Mexican fiesta, so for food, we tapped the pros at Local Taco. The trendy Tex Mex restaurant offers catering as well as a new menu with some tasty (and healthy) selections. With the food taken care of, we asked entertaining expert Amos Gott for some tips on how to throw together all the rest, and with his help, we threw one heck of a party (if we do say so ourselves!).
Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to entertain. It’s easier than you think, and you will never regret gathering your favorite people to share a tasty meal and delectable drinks.
4 Steps for a Fun & Easy Last-Minute Party
1. Don’t fret over the decorations.
It doesn’t take an expert to decorate for a small gathering. Looking at your dishes in a different way allows you to approach setting the table with a fresh perspective. “This is such a colorful theme that you can use items you have around the house, or if you’re in the mood for something new, Pier 1, Homegoods and World Market have great Mexican-related elements to incorporate,” Amos explains. Pick a theme and run with it. In this case, we brought something fresh to the table in the form of succulents, but fresh flowers are always a safe bet. “Play with colors and textures. Colorful throws, banners and plates add to the fun of the event. Incorporating succulents add a great texture and natural look, they are easy to work with, and they live for ages!”
2. Go the extra mile in presentation.
“The meal might not be home-cooked, but when you add finishing touches like fresh cut limes, cilantro and peppers from your local market, the platters and bowls will take on the look of a gourmet meal,” Amos shares.
On the menu for the evening were the expected guacamole and salsa, two types of tacos and street corn. Although Local Taco offers full-service catering options for everything from office parties to weddings, we opted for the pick-up option. We transferred the dips into bowls (topping the guacamole with fresh lime) and placed an easy-to-reach bowl of chips on the table. We created a little bit of work for ourselves by serving the tacos already assembled, but this meant less work for the guests. If you are pressed for time, serve the tacos buffet-style or pass the ingredients family-style so guests can build their own. The two taco options were a Southern fried taco, with buttermilk fried chicken, shredded lettuce, pico and pablano cream sauce, and a local brisket taco, with beer-braised brisket, shredded lettuce, pico and chipotle barbecue sauce.
“We have super fresh ingredients, and our tacos won’t break the bank,” says Jess Eccher, head of community outreach for Local Taco. “The quality of our food for the price is unmatched, and that is really appealing in terms of entertaining. When entertaining, you want to make an impact with your guests, and you want to wow them — and no one is against a taco bar. It is fun to eat tacos! You don’t want your dinner party to be stuffy or pretentious, and tacos make sure you don’t take things to seriously.”
3. Make it personal.
Guests will appreciate the thought that goes into a personalized touch. For this fiesta, it was the menus printed by Ink Nashville. “The menus we created for this party were all the guests could talk about. That one little thing went a long way in creating a personal touch. Plus it had a purpose by holding the dessert,” Amos says. If you don’t have time to place an order in advance, handwrite the menu for your guests. Not only will they love to know what’s for dinner, they will know you took the time to do something special.
4. Check out Local Taco’s catering options.
Local Taco’s premium taco bar serves two tacos per person with the option to choose one, two or three proteins (smoked brisket, smoked pork, grilled chicken or veggie). All orders included the fixings: shredded lettuce, jack cheese, cilantro, lime and corn or flour tortillas. For a full meal, add Mexican rice and beans. You can also choose from a selection of sides, such as street corn and sautéed veggies. Go even healthier with a chopped salad tray, or make it kid-friendly with the kids’ ground beef taco bar and mini cheese quesadillas. Another option is The Walking Taco Bar (a bag of Frito chips, seasoned ground beef, queso, pico de gallo and lettuce). And be sure to ask about their margarita bar!
For smaller orders, Local Taco needs 24 hours notice. For larger orders (75+ people), they ask for at least three days notice. Cost is $8.99 to $12.99 per person. Pricing for dips and sides depends on the size. See all of the options here.
“Our ingredients set us apart. They are so fresh, and we don’t sacrifice on quality. That makes all the difference when it comes to catering, adds Jess. “It wows people; they are always so excited about the taste and flavors, and overall experience that we offer.”
Now, time to enjoy the party!