Go Big or Go Home: Dressing Up Your Dinner Party

I recently threw a 40th birthday celebration for a friend and eight guests and it was a smash hit, if I do say so myself.  

The party was my birthday gift to Nadia and I went all out, just as I would have for my own. I would cook, I would decorate, I would be the perfect hostess. My feeling was: Go Big or Go Home (even if it did take me a day in bed in my sweats to recover)!

The Shopping:

Done in stages, like a true New Yorker. I was bringing home grocery bags for a week.

The Flowers:

I used my favorite florist Kerry Patel who had to deliver on Thursday as she had other commitments on the weekend. The arrangements were both short and tall, for contrast, and they matched my décor. I work with Kerry because her flower arrangements are conversation starters — they set the ambience.

The Setting:

I always set my table (symmetrically) the night before a party, using my best bone china and sterling silver tea set. (The real silver is back home in Toronto.) The honoree wanted sparkle, so the colors were black and gold, even down to the votive candles.  

Black and gold were also asked for the guests’ attire. I am notorious for dress codes at my parties so that prints and colors don’t clash with my home décor!

The Meal:

Traditional Pakistani cuisine that my mother is most famous for — (1) Dahi Bada with urad lentils, (2) Chicken hara masala with almonds, coconut and cashews, (3) Minced beef Hydrabadi style, (4) Zucchini and potato curry, and (5) Kachumber salad, deconstructed ). I had place cards in gold in front of my serving dishes, plates in rows on serviettes.

The Cake:

The birthday girl asked for red velvet so I ordered from Jennifer Bunce-Timmons. She’s my go-to for all occasions. The flowers on the cake had to be coordinated with the flower arrangements for my dining table.

My parents taught me the art of creating the perfect menu, one with a complementary palette. I am so turned off by the hodgepodge I find in many a host’s home, where Italian is mixed with Indian, with a little Mexican thrown in!

My sister says, to be a good chef, think about what you want your food to taste like in your mouth and work towards that. So, I project-manage cooking as well!

The guests were called for 5:30 p.m. — an early dinner, so we were not rushed to cut the cake and compromise on the coffee and tea experience.

Above, you can see me with Nadia, the birthday girl and our friends. You see the vibe is one of relaxed elegance.

Et voila! All the ingredients that make up the recipe for the perfect dinner party!

What event have you hosted or been to where everything seemed just right? What made it so?


The Z Experience: The Perfect Dinner Party

Please note that these are all my personal recommendations. Nothing in this post is sponsored.

I trust Kerry Patel for all my floral needs, and Jennifer Bunce-Timmons at Hudson Bakery for desserts!