Put Together a Dinner Party

Recently, we hosted a dinner party in honor of a summer clerk who has been working at my husband's law firm.  In the summer months, John's firm hires law students in an effort to give them a feel for practicing law and to help them decide which firm is the best fit for their personality and lifestyle.  It really makes for a fun summer for everybody involved; and since I adore dinner parties, we hosted a first year law student and his beautiful wife for a little "get together."  

Normally, there are lots of cookouts, wine tastings, and baseball games, all of which, are outdoors.  So, I decided it would be nice to have a seated dinner inside with the AC blasting.  I love the outdoor thing, but who are we kidding - temps here in Birmingham are in the 90's long after the sun has gone down.

So, with my mind on keeping it as cool as possible, I planned a menu (love planning a menu).  Honestly, when someone says, "We are having people over for dinner.  What should I serve?" My eyes light up!

The Menu

Chilled Corn Bisque 
with an avocado shrimp relish

Chilled Salad of Mixed Baby Lettuces
with spiced pecans, blue cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette 
(served on a chilled plate)

Crab Cakes Topped with a Citrus Butter Reduction 
paired with Asparagus Risotto and sautéed haricot verts/baby carrots

Homemade Peach Ice Cream 
served with a small butter cookie

I made the peach ice cream (recipe is here), but the rest was catered.  So, no recipes this time.  But, if you love the idea of planning a fabulous menu, here are a couple of my secret weapons for planning a party.  I love to mix in some new ideas with some tried and true favorites just to make the party more interesting.

Here is just one example of the many menu suggestions included in this book.

Another favorite is this one by Michael Leva and Nancy Parker.  It is full of menu ideas, flowers, and table settings for entertaining. . .  Not to mention is makes a great coffee table book.

So in addition to my chilly seafood menu, I decided to keep the theme going with my table.    
Do you remember the DIY post on painting shells for a fabulous accessory?

  Well, I actually did a variation of that for my table.  I picked up five of these shells from Home Goods (they were in the discount area for $12 each).
TIP: When creating a table scape, always repeat the accessories to tie the table together.

But when I initially put them on the table, it seemed like it was too much white.  When I took this picture I had yet to place the flowers, but they too were white, so I knew it needed something.
  So, I ran outside and gave them all a dose of glam with some left over gold spray paint.  Here's what I ended up with for the final table scape.

The flowers are from the grocery store and I had everything else.

Oh, I also did some fun chocolate treats on the table for nibbling between courses.  I think these are also a fun alternative for those who don't want dessert and would rather have coffee and a simple piece of chocolate.  

I will see you Friday.  I have redesigns for the rest of this week and then I plan to finish up a few additional projects.  My kiddos are at camp so I'm totally focusing on interior design for the next few weeks.  I will try to remember to snap some pictures so I can share a few projects with you.  Have a great day. M.


  1. Thanks for the book suggestions. I am a lover of books and creating menus so these recommendations will come in handy. Thanks!

  2. Wow what a beautiful and elegant dinner party!! You were so creative and that menu sounds devine...you had me at the peach ice cream....lucky guests! Always love a good cookbook suggestion:) GREAT JOB!

  3. Oh it looks utterly fabulous - what a VERY lucky Summer clerk! I just ADORE styling the table for a dinner party - and your menu sounds delicious - perfectly thought out for the temperature. Wonderful of you to include some entertaining books as well - I can never get enough of these - lol!
    Great post.
    Paula x

  4. The shells came out fantastic. Thanks for the tip about repeating.

  5. What a lucky lawyer and his wife! Your table is beautiful and those menus all sound amazing. I loved how so much of yours was "chilled" in light of the heat. :) Great idea on the chocolates - that is a new idea for me and it's a good tip!

  6. The table looks great... when my husband suggest we have people over for dinner I panic and think take out! The menu looks delish! (and LOVE the shells!) Hope all goes well....-Ann

  7. Amazing what a difference a little gold paint can make. The table is just lovely, Mandi! You are a gracious hostess!


  8. Catered! Now there's a brilliant solution on how to take the stress out of entertaining! I'm going to seriously consider that for our next dinner party :)

  9. This looks so lovely! And now I'm feeling a little guilty that I didn't host a nice dinner for the summer clerks at my firm this summer!

  10. Absolutely gorgeous table! Love the gold shells and the simple arrangements were stunning. I am like you....catered is the way to go...definitely takes out the stress!


Thank you for thoughts on my post! M.