While certainly not as big as Christmas or New Year’s, Valentine’s Day is still a wonderful opportunity to gather friends and host an evening get together. This year, my husband and I are excited to host a few couples for a delicious Valentine’s dinner. Here are a few of my favorite low-stress party planning tips and ideas, from DIY Valentine’s decorations to a delicious yet simple menu. Learn how to plan and host a no-stress Valentine’s dinner for your friends with this guide from Christmas Tree Market.
Plan and Prepare
I love hosting friends, but hate when I get a little crazy with stress. My goal is to enjoy a fun night with friends, and not to be running around like a mad woman. This is where planning comes into play! With a guest list, menu, and basic evening itinerary mapped out, I’m a much more relaxed hostess. In our case, I’ll be serving appetizers at 7:00, followed by dinner at 7:45, and then dessert afterwards. To spark conversation and add a bit of fun, I’ve asked my dinner guests to send me wedding photos. Thought it might be fun to play a game where, based on attire, hairstyle, etcetera, we guess what year we were married. I plan to throw in a fun party favor for the winner! Another easy icebreaker is to prepare conversation starter questions, place them in a bowl, and let guests take turns asking each other questions at the dinner table.
Match the Décor with the Intimacy of the Celebration
When I started planning a Valentine’s dinner with friends, I had in mind something that had a Valentine’s feel, but didn’t scream kids’ party!
I pictured something more subtle than red hearts such as pale pinks, gold, and champagne with a touch of bright pink.
Next, I started searching Pinterest for ideas, and then hit local stores. I actually live 45 minutes from the nearest Target or Hobby Lobby, but you would be surprised at what I found at our local Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, and Salvation Army.
I made no-sew napkins with hem tape and added pink, cream, and champagne colored ribbons to my dinner table.
DIY No Sew Napkins made with hem tape and topped with a pink ribbon bow- easy to do and pair well with the rest of the table decor.
They were easy to make and pair wonderfully with the arrangements of white flowers and baby’s breath, along with the silver candelabras I found at my local Salvation Army.
You can find more Valentine’s decorating ideas on my Pinterest page here.
Prepare a No-Frills Appetizer
As for menu planning, I am always thinking about how I can serve the most delicious food without a huge fuss! For our dinner on Friday night, my friends and I are sharing the cooking load. I’m handling appetizers and parmesan smashed potatoes via Ina Garten. My plan is to start with a cheese platter filled with brie and good cheddar, cured meats (I like Columbus salami), some nice crackers, and a sliced baguette. I’m also preparing my new favorite layered cheese spread made with fresh ricotta, pesto, and tomato jam. I first had this at Nordstrom’s in-house restaurant in Cleveland. It’s really delicious, super easy to prepare, and pretty to boot! I start with a mason jar, layer the bottom with ricotta, then pesto, and finally the tomato jam. Serve with sliced baguette and crackers. I’m also planning to prepare this roasted shrimp cocktail by the Barefoot Contessa — delicious! What I love about this recipe is it’s a twist on an old favorite, and I can prepare it ahead of time!
Serve a Few Drinks
A romantic evening with your friends wouldn’t be complete without a good glass of wine. Serve some red and white wine, and maybe a signature cocktail. Try out this cosmopolitan from Ina Garten that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day! For guests who prefer non-alcoholic beverages, stock up on bottles of sparkling water like San Pellegrino.
Go for a Simple yet Filling Menu
There are dedicated Valentine’s Day menus out there, but yours should focus on a few high-impact items. Start your guests on a Caesar Kale salad while putting the finishing touches on your entree. For the main course, oven-roasted beef tenderloin topped with creamy horseradish sauce and a side of parmesan chive smashed potatoes are the perfect Valentine’s dinner pair — they are quite filling and easy to prepare! Serve roasted winter root vegetables and homemade herbed rolls to add a bit of color to the table.
Don’t Skimp on Dessert
And of course, sweets are a must for Valentine’s Day. Graciously, two of my friends are handling dessert. The plan is to serve a chocolate mousse with raspberries, and a lemon curd cheesecake. My husband roasts our coffee, and it’s so good —the perfect way to end our Valentine’s dinner.
Treat your friends to an unforgettable night with an indulgent Valentine’s dinner. With the right planning, you can host a fuss-free yet lovely Valentine’s Day party with this guide from Christmas Tree Market. What are your favorite Valentine’s Day party ideas? Let us know in the comments!