Much To My Delight

Much To My Delight

Middle Eastern Dinner Party

In July, I threw a sweet little dinner party. That’s right, July. I wanted to wait until all the guests had digested properly before speaking of the soiree.

Vin and I hosted the dinner in our little Queens backyard to introduce his Croatian family to my southeast Texan brood. It was an exotic evening filled with food, fun and a whole bunch of different accents. I chose Middle Eastern food not only because our neighborhood of Astoria has a large Middle Eastern population (and great food sources), but also because some of the attendees from my Dad’s wife’s family are Lebanese, and I thought they might enjoy it.

Party Tip #1: Know your audience and tailor your menu and decor accordingly. 

I picked up some colorful flowers down the street and plopped them in turquoise bell jars, then gave them an exotic jolt by taping gold doilies on each side ($2.50). The white candle holders are from Ikea ($2.99 each) and are fantastic because the high sides prevent the wind from blowing out the flame.
Party Tip #2: Look for creative ways to spruce up items you already have to make them look custom for your party. No need to buy new decorations/platters for every type of party.
I’ve yet to find a tablecloth to fit two long folding tables, so I used two cheapo gold plastic tablecloths as a base, then topped them with a more ornate velvet window curtain I no longer use. I still don’t have a set of matching plates so I scooped up these hard plastic plates at Party City ($12.99 for 10) and thought they looked great. (Don’t use real knives with plastic plates though–they look like a crime scene afterward).
Party Tip #3: Think outside the box. It doesn’t have to be labeled tablecloth to become one. Old bedsheets, butcher paper and window curtains work just as well.
I bought some fresh pita and made a few dips for appetizers. The roasted red pepper dip, jalapeno-garlic-lemon feta, and roasted eggplant dip were all made by me, but I bought the hummus at a great Lebanese deli a few blocks away. 
Party Tip #4: You do not have to make everything yourself. I’m a glutton for punishment and usually take on too many homemade tasks, but I’m starting to come around to the idea of making life easier and opting for a mix of homemade and pre-made foods.

I used one of my craft punches to make the food labels, then glued on some gold rhinestones for a little flash. I’m acquiring quite the Martha Stewart craft punch collection and will likely enroll in some kind of “scrapbooking for seniors” club in the near future.

Party Tip #5: Whether they’re elaborate or not, I’ve found that guests really do appreciate food labels. People like to know what they’re getting themselves into (it’s especially helpful to give a warning if something is super spicy or has meat in it for vegetarians).

For the main course we had lamb meatballs with tzatziki sauce (the big hit!) and a tagine with spiced butternut squash, sweet potato, honey and currants. I also served a great orange salad with red onion, olive oil, fresh mint and salt and pepper.

Party Tip #6: If you’re going to have lots of heavy dishes, try to lighten things up by adding a fresh fruit or green salad. It’s also nice to add a splash of color to the table.

We also had a bevy of delicious desserts brought by Vin’s mom as well as few that I didn’t end up serving because everyone was so full. We washed everything down with a homemade mint tea.

Party Tip #7: Refer back to Party Tip #1–Know your audience. Skip the tea. Buy some booze.

Jenn P.

30-something psychotherapist. Loves cooking, hosting parties, exploring new places. Texan by birth. New Yorker by choice. Likes to tell little stories. Pull up a chair; I'll tell you one.

  • gabrielle
    the decor is absolutely beautiful. that is exactly my style no matter what im serving- im going to be, um, borrowing some of these ideas!!
  • victoria | vmac+cheese
    ADORABLE party. I love the idea of taping gold doilies onto the jars. It looks so neat! Also, Mediterranean anything is pretty much my fave type of food. My stomach just growled audibly looking at those meatballs and tzatziki. Drool.
  • Nancy Sima
    It was a great night! All was yum the first time around, still lovely the second time in pictures!
  • Rachel @ The Avid Appetite
    wow, you really thought of everything! so gorgeous! i may have missed it, but how did you affix the tags to the serving bowls?
  • Bravoe Runway
    This is fantastic soiree, I love to entertain as well, I just wish I could cook most of the food versus buying pre-made items. These were great tips, I’ll be sure to refer to this at my next event!
  • Adey
    The last tip is HILARIOUS and most applicable to my family ;) This looks like an incredible spread!
  • Nada (One Arab Vegan)
    Wow what a gorgeous spread! That tagine topped with mint looks incredible – bookmarking for inspiration later :)