How to Host an Awesome Dinner Party


1) Invite awesome people.

My date, Matt:


And our guests, my high school friend Amy and her husband, Patrick:


2) Convince said awesome guests to let us use their (unopened until now) wedding china for the dinner. Yes, you read that right. We used their wedding china.


Isn’t it pretty?


Actually, it was Amy’s idea to use their china when she heard the dinner party was supposed to be “luxury” per the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog Challenge #3 instructions :) They were excited to use it for the first time! Heh


3) Serve the first course, Apple Cider Pumpkin Soup, in little mini pumpkins. If you don’t think this is the cutest thing ever, you are probably dead.


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I heart pumpkins. They just scream fall!


To serve soup in a pumpkin, just clean out the pumpkins like you would before carving them :)

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4) Prepare said soup and pumpkin bowls (and any other possible courses) beforehand so you can spend the dinner party enjoying your guests (and the food) instead of slaving away in the kitchen.

I also prepared my Herbed Cranberry Quinoa beforehand:


And the Beet, Goat Cheese, and Mixed Greens Salad: 


5) Make a pretty menu, and build your courses around a central theme (mine is autumn!):


6) Pick a pretty location and decorate the table. We decided to move our dining room table out onto our porch for the dinner since the weather was so beautiful!

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7) Serve fun, creative, and delicious food (and wine)! I built my menu around embracing the arrival of fall, my favorite season :)

~ First Course ~


Apple Cider Pumpkin Soup

served in mini pumpkin bowls


Yum! To make the soup, I followed this recipe. I should probably serve all of my meals inside pumpkins.

~ Second Course ~


Beet, Goat Cheese, and Mixed Greens Salad

with balsamic vinaigrette


Deeeeelish. Recipe is already on my blog: Goat Cheese and Beet Salad — the only change is I left out the cucumbers!


~ Main Course ~


Toasted Pumpkin Seed Encrusted Tilapia


This was soooo yummy. I adapted it from one of my favorite recipes on my blog — my Almond Encrusted Tilapia! I followed the recipe exactly, except that I swapped out the almonds for pumpkin seeds to embrace fall and mix things up. It came out awesome! Even Matt loved it, and he claims to not like fish ;)


Herbed Cranberry Quinoa


Yum! This was also great — it was the perfect light side to the tilapia. I used this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, but I added in some dried cranberries for a little extra interest. They made the dish!

Orange Scented Garlic String Beans


These string beans were delish and another big favorite! I used my Lemon Garlic String Beans recipe, but instead of using lemon juice and zest, I used orange juice and zest! It was AMAZING.

~ Dessert ~


Poached Autumn Pears

with cinnamon ice cream


This was incredible! One of my new favorite desserts — sweet and delicious, but also light and somewhat healthy :)

Making poached pears was easier than I thought it would be, too!


I followed this recipe from The Food Network, but instead of using red wine, I used POM Wonderful! Yum :)


The cinnamon and cloves in the pot made the room smell AMAZING, and the pears ended up soft, flavorful, and juicy.


I didn’t cool the pears in the fridge, instead deciding to serve them warm. It was a good call — warm fruit is the best :) Especially when served with ice cream! (p.s. Not gonna lie — I couldn’t find cinnamon ice cream and I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I may or may not have just bought vanilla ice cream and topped it with ground cinnamon. Heh. Don’t judge. It was still tasty!)

~ Wine Pairing ~


Amy was kind enough to bring this wine to go along with the tilapia — it was perfect — sweet but not too sweet, and light enough to not overpower the fish.


And now, for the final way to host an awesome dinner party:

8 ) Wash and dry the mini pumpkins everyone ate their soup course in, and carve them with your guests!


Lol — Amy looks pumped, Patrick looks scared for his life:


We carved the pumpkins in an interlude between the main course and dessert (while the pears simmered inside, smelling delicious). It was SO much fun!!



Masterpieces in the making…

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And then, success! Everyone made really different looking pumpkins :)


Aren’t they cute? They served as our ambiance for the the dessert course ;)

Here’s mine — evil!!


Matt’s — heh love the tongue!


Amy’s — their dog, Miles! :) (p.s. I need a tripod to get still night pictures! Matt’s shoulder wasn’t cutting it…)


And Patrick’s! We decided his pumpkin was “emo” or possibly Justin Bieber, lol. The sideswept hair is the best!


All together now!


So much fun :) We sent Amy and Patrick home with their pumpkin creations as a parting gift! 133

Here Matt and I are with our pumpkins — first, normal:


And then imitating our pumpkins :) Although I look more deranged than evil, lol.


And with that, our dinner party was over! What a fun night :) I hope you all enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed hosting it!

Voting will be open tomorrow for this round of Project Food Blog and if you liked this post, please vote for me! :)


  1. 1

    This is great, Anne! Well done!

  2. 2

    AMAZING! This is the first one I’ve read so all other entries I read today will have to live up to it ;)

    Voting for sure

  3. 3

    Everything looks great! I love the pumpkin idea both as functional with the soup and as a fun craft with the carving! And, I am going to have to make that tilapia and quinoa with the cranberries. Yum!

  4. 4

    You should win simply for the pumpkin bowls! OMG they were so cute and love that you carved them later.

  5. 5

    This is awesome!!! What a fun idea for a dinner party- and all the recipes sound divine!

  6. 6

    Love it!! So much fun which is what dinner parties are supposed to be! :) You got my vote :)

  7. 7

    This is great. I love how you carved the pumpkins after you ate the soup out of them.

  8. 8

    I hope you make it! This was awesome.

  9. 9

    What a fun dinner party! Hmm… Our dinner party on Friday consisted of my favourite staple – Delia Smith Chicken Basque – and a bought dessert, followed by chilling on the sofa as our friends’ 2-year-old daughter wanted to watch Lazytown.

    I will definitely have to give the quinoa recipe a try – I haven’t found a way in which I like it yet, so I’m up for anything new!

  10. 10

    Great job girlfriend!!!
    “If you don’t think this is the cutest thing ever, you are probably dead.” LMAO!

  11. 11

    Wow you did an awesome job! Everything looks so good and it’s very creative! Love that you guys even decorated your pumpkins.. too cute!

  12. 12

    Everything looks amazing. I seriously want to eat the screen. What a creative idea for a dinner party, especially the pumpkins. Good luck to you. Fantastic job.

  13. 13

    This was quite the gorgeous little dinner party you had!

    I am wanting that pumpkin soup in the pumpkin so badly…actually I want everything on that menu! Can I come over for dinner? :)

  14. 14

    LOL i lolled at the “cutest thing ever — you are probably dead” comment too :)

    great dinner party!! very VERY impressed!

  15. 15

    Oh-Em-Gee. Your dinner party is so great! So creative and in touch with the season. Way to go!

  16. 16

    Your dinner party is gorgeous! I will be voting for you to enter the next round. I can only imagine the time and effort you must have put into creating the whole thing. It looks beautiful!

  17. 17

    I now fully believe that pumpkin soup should always be served in a pumpkin – if not, I will be disappointed. Fantastic and fun dinner party! You have my vote!

  18. 18

    This looks Magical!!

  19. 19

    Wow, impressive! LOVE the pumpkin bowl idea :)
    ps giada de laurentiis is my italian homegirl ;)

  20. 20

    An awesome post for an awesome dinner. Wow! Really creative, fun, and tasty sounding. Well done!

  21. 21

    How FUN! Pulling out nice china always makes a dinner luxurious no matter what’s on the plate :) I am not a fan of tilapia but I would try yours…I love fish when it’s encrusted with nuts/seeds! You made me want to go carve a pumpkin today!

  22. 22

    wow…I have never been to a dinner party like this! Can I come next time??

  23. 23

    This is so original. I bet you are the only contestant who thought of this GREG job. GREG

  24. 24

    I love this!!! Everything looks incredible, I can practically smell it. Extra points for creativity with the pumpkins :) Very well done!

  25. 25

    What an original idea. I am not much of a fish eater myself, but I think I could go for this one. Loved your post and I will be voting for you first thing tomorrow.

  26. 26

    I love Fall and completely love your presentation! Great job :)

  27. 27

    Oh, I love your fun post and beautiful food. I’m slaving away on mine, waiting for pics to download and enjoying reading and getting to know new blogs/people :D Great job!

  28. 28

    This looks like it must have been sooo much fun :)

  29. 29

    Best line of the blog: “If you don’t think this is the cutest thing ever, you are probably dead.” Hahaha! I am ready to fly down to NC to have a dinner party with you- the pics are amazing! I think we need to carve a Kitty pumpkin and have a photo with it :)

  30. 31

    I love it, from the wedding china to the pumpkin bowls. Wonderful!

  31. 32

    You are so creative! Everything looks amazing and delicious!

  32. 33

    Totally awesome! I would LOVED to been there!
    Great dinner part!

  33. 34

    Well done- loved the menus and the soup in the pumpkins. Everything looked delicious.

  34. 36

    Wow I have never seen soup served in a pumkpin. Such a great idea, although I’ll probably never do it haha, but looks awesome!

  35. 37

    Cute dinner party! I love that there was an activity involved and that it was pumpkin carving!

  36. 38

    Love it!! Such a cute idea! Very fun!

  37. 39

    This looks so much fun! I think I’m going to need to carve a pumpkin soon. That pear dessert looks amazing, by the way.

  38. 40

    This is such a cool idea for dessert, I’ll probably be trying it out this fall. I love your dinner party how to’s. The pumpkin bowls are amazing!

  39. 41

    I love that you served soup in the pumpkins and then carved them between courses! So fun!

  40. 42

    The dessert is so creative, yet simple! Love that idea.

  41. 43

    Wow! You def win my vote! Very creative and festive!

  42. 44

    What a perfect fall menu! And I love your friend’s china pattern!

  43. 45

    Love the pumpkin carving fun!! And the menu looks delicious.

  44. 46

    I’m kind of sad that I didn’t get invited to this dinner party. ;) It looks like you had a great time, great company, and amazing food!

    I love the idea of eating soup out of the pumpkins. I did a similar thing with an acorn squash once.

    You have my vote, girl!

  45. 47

    What fun!! I love the pumpkins and sense of humor!!

  46. 48

    Oh my goodness! I want to attend your dinner party, plleeeeeeeeeease?! This is perfection. I’m so behind on blog reading but really glad I came across this post. Wonderful fall recipes, Anne! xoxo

  47. 49

    “If you don’t think this is the cutest thing ever, you’re probably dead.” L.O.V.E. it. Awesome job!

  48. 50

    The pumpkin carving added such a fun element to the party. I loved it.

  49. 51
    Linda - a Canadian RD says:

    Wow! Everything was beautiful, the food looked delicious and it looked like fun! I love that you did it outdoors on a beautiful evening!

  50. 52

    Love it, love it, love it! I absolutely love your ideas, you def have my vote :)

  51. 53

    Really lovely! And the food looks/sounds amazing. I am always on baord for serving things in pumpkins. And I love that you finished the night off carving them. Genius. Sounds like a lot of fun. I voted for you! =)

    Good luck! Fingers crossed that we both make it through to round 4!!!

  52. 54

    This is super cute! I thought of making pumpkin bowls for soup but I had 12 guest and didn’t feel like carving 12 mini pumpkins. Instead I did a pumpkin drink cooler.

    Great post you got my vote! Hope to see you in the next round!

  53. 55

    Love this–especially the pumpkin-carving! Glad you guys had a wonderful time, and I’m glad that your friends finally got to use their wedding china:) You have one of my votes!

  54. 56

    Love that you carved the pumpkins too – great blog!

  55. 57

    A) love the arts and crafts aspect to your dinner party, love that they got involved! and B) we need to be friends. obviously you and i both like to fill pumpkins with things and that means we need to throw a “fill the pumpkin” party.

    THe end :)


  56. 59

    Great party!! Love both uses of the pumpkins! I want the dessert!! :) Great job…you’ve got my vote!

  57. 60

    Great post! Your menu reflected the fall season beautifully. Loved the pumpkin carving element! Good luck and hope to join you in round four :)

  58. 61

    Oh Anne – everything looks stunning! Great job!

  59. 62

    You’ve got my vote! I love that you served soup from the pumpkins and then carved them so they didn’t just go to waste!

  60. 63

    It’s very possible that we used those same place mats for our dinner party table setting too! :) Isn’t it great to have fall on our side now? We also wanted to highlight all the great flavors of the season. Love your menu! And definitely voting.

  61. 64

    What a great event! I added most of your recipes to my meals for next week! You’ve definitely got my vote… and my subscription to your RSS feed! ;)

  62. 65

    Amazing!! One of the best entries I’ve seen so far. You have my vote!! And the china was gorgeous!!

  63. 66

    Congrats on making it through to round 3!!

    I love, love, LOVE the idea of using the mini pumpkins as not only a serving container but also a mid-meal activity! So creative :) Looks like you guys had fun, and the menu sounds delicious. Good luck!

  64. 67

    Your menu sounds delicious! I love that you carved pumpkins:-) Hope to see you in Round 4!

  65. 68

    Lovely autumn meal and BEAUTIFUL dishes!

  66. 69

    I love the pumpkin theme. I have a beef stew recipe that you cook in the pumpkin in the oven, and scoop out spoonfuls of pumpkin, along with the stew. your individual mini pumkins are so cute!

  67. 71

    Perfect way to celebrate fall! I love your dinner party tips, your inspiration to add dried cranberries to the quinoa (great idea!) and your use of the pumpkins as mid-course entertainment…it looks like you had a great time!

    You’ve got my vote…good luck!

  68. 72

    Loved the menu, loved the photos, loved the theme, loved your friend’s china!, love the blog! I’m voting for you!

  69. 73

    I like the seasonal theme, mostly because it leads to seasonal ingredients that complement one another. Also, props on the snacktivity (pumpkin carving). What’s that thing about playing with your food? You’re supposed to do it?

    You’ve got a vote of ours, hope to see you next week!

    Lick My Spoon

  70. 74

    I love the focus on fresh seasonal produce! You’ve got my vote!

  71. 75

    Anyone who can get their friends to crack open the unused wedding china has a vote from me. And this takes nothing away from your party- the food looked seriously fabulous.


  72. 76

    Everything looks fabulous! We both did pumpkin bowls! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!

  73. 77

    What a lovely dinner party and how fun you carved the little pumpkins!

  74. 78

    such a great idea with the pumpkins. You rocked the dinner party and made it fun as well! I want to try the pear recipe it looks delicious.

  75. 79

    Since my birthday is Halloween.. I am a sucker for pumpkins…..looks like some amazing fun!

  76. 80

    P.S…. you have my vote!

  77. 81

    Great to see someone else creating a healthy menu for a diner party. I love the mini pumpkins!

  78. 82

    LOVE THIS!! Such a cute idea–especially the pumpkin carving! The Justin Bieber look-alike with sideswept hair made me laugh out loud. :-p You have my vote!

  79. 83
    Stephanie says:

    I really loved your dinner party. What a great idea with the pumpkins. I might have to steal your idea, in fact I might have to steal your whole menu, it looked delicious.
    Good luck in the contest!

  80. 84

    The whole thing looks fantastic. Yes, fall is definitely here!

  81. 85

    What you did shows that parties can be fun not boring with people sitting around drinking or watching a ball game. You paced the eating with a great physical activity and you tantalized the senses with smells. Your pacing probably allowed you to interact with your guests while preparing the dessert.

    Good ideas!

  82. 86

    I LOVE your dinner party! What a tremendous dinner with friends!! Way to go on making it delicious and healthy!! I learned how to make cinnamon ice cream this summer. I actually read it in a cookbook written by a lady who ran a tea room in our city for many years. She used it to compliment apple desserts. Our local ice cream company used to make cinnamon ice cream . When they stopped she made her own by combining store bought vanilla with cinnamon. I did it and it works! Duh! Why didn’t I think of that? Loved your blog!!


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