Entertaining at home doesn't mean you have to plan a large dinner menu. The cocktail party is a traditional favorite, but it normally comes before a meal or evening out on the town. Instead, consider reversing things and throwing a dessert party for after an evening at the movies or theater. The following are three things to keep in mind if you opt for this type of gathering.
#1: Don't skimp on the atmosphere
Atmosphere is everything, but you will be limited in the fact that you must prepare everything before you go to the theater. Fortunately, much like a cocktail party, there is no need to set a fine table. Instead, set up the dessert table before you leave and make it a bit festive. Break out the nice linen, dessert plates, and silver dessert spoons and forks. And a dusting of glittery table scatter to catch the light from a few candles places amongst the serving ware. Finally, make sure there are plenty of coasters and napkins arranged on the side tables around the main room. Finish by loading your iPod or stereo with the playlist of choice and dimming the lights before you walk out the door.
#2: Offer a selection
A dessert party should feature more than one dessert. Think bite size morsels so guests feel free to nibble on their favorites. Small petite fours or cupcakes, cheesecake bites, and chocolates are a popular option. You should also pick out one centerpiece dessert, such as a chocolate fountain or a flawlessly decorated cake. Have everything arranged pre-cut and on platters, so you can quickly set them out on the serving table in the few minutes you will have before guests arrive. You may also want to skip hot desserts, unless you can prepare them ahead and warm them quickly without compromising quality.
#3: Beverages complete the meal
Don't overlook beverages at your gathering. A selection of coffee and tea is a must. You may also want to included mulled cider or a spiced warm wine for winter events, or a sangria for summer parties. Dessert wines are also a popular options. Don't simply serve port and sherry just because they are common; branch out into other dessert wines like a Sauterne wine. Another option is to include some international options, such as a sweet Japanese plum wine. Your guests will appreciate the choices.
With a bit of planning, your gathering will be the cherry on top of a perfect evening.