How To Throw A Last Minute Valentines Dinner For Your Mates
The Debrief: Got no plans for Valentine's day? You do now. Gather the troupes, we're throwing a dinner party.
I refuse to believe that Valentine’s Day should be any less fun when you’re single. In fact, I’ve decided that it doesn't have to have anything nothing to do with your relationship status. I am putting my foot down.
Admittedly, I’m the walking talking clichéd definition of a hopeless, Disney princess-style romantic at heart. And for all the faults in that, I’m not mad about it. What I’ve learnt though, is that the whole love thing is fucking great and should always be celebrated. But sorry Cupid, V-Day is no longer reserved for whoever is lucky enough to be sleeping with you.
Chances are you’ve got a group of mates who have put up with you at the best and worst of times and hell, they deserve to be treated. Don’t panic, these sorts of things can be done last minute with minimum effort and pretty much zero organisational skill. So, throw a message on the group Whatsapp and let’s do this.
Because every good dinner party starts with a cocktail. If you’re not particularly confident around the old cocktail shaker, there’s no shame to sticking to a bottle (or two) of prosecco. Whack a strawberry or raspberry in to up the ante if you fancy. If you really want to push the boat out, add a splash of a nice raspberry liquor and call it a Raspberry Bellini. You can buy Chambord in little 20cl bottles which is ideal for these levels of impromptu cocktail mastery.
If you're feeling a bit less formal and a bit more adventurous (and can find a few watermelons), give our watermelon juice cocktail a go. Or go for a legitimate aperitif like the gimlet. It's far more refreshing than the name might suggest and is made from just two ingredients - gin and lime juice.
Ease and speed are key, you guys. And in these situations, we look to our dear friend ready-made pastry. Because nothing looks more like you’ve made an effort than pastry. You could go for these homemade pesto and parmesan twists, or a basic goats cheese and caramelised onion chutney combo.
Even easier option? Camembert in the oven, slice up some bread and dip away. Chances are you’ll all be pretty full by the time it gets to the main course but…
Here’s your chance to have that meal you always really fancy when you're out but is quite messy to eat and so wouldn’t normally order in public. But we’re all friends here and we won’t judge when you get a bit too intimate with that rack of ribs (if you do fancy ribs, totally go and buy some pre-marinated ones from the supermarket though, it can be a lot of effort to go it on your own if you’re cooking them for the first time. Trust me).
Spaghetti is a good shout. Easy to make in excess and ridiculously satisfying to eat. You could whip up a spaghetti alla puttanesca. It involves anchovies and garlic aka the I’m-definitely-not-snogging-anyone-tonight ingredients. You might have to nip to the shops to get a few extra ingredients but it’s really easy to make. This one pot recipe is a winner.
Just going to put it out there. There’s never a bad time to have chocolate covered strawberries. Never. They can be as romantic or blasé as you like. I’ve been known to polish off a plate in bed on my own and I’m not even slightly sorry about it.
If that’s not quite up your street, then how does a salted chocolate caramel tart sound? When you’re done salivating you can have a scan of this recipe right here. All else fails, there’s bound to be a supermarket on your way home that has an offer on either Hagen Daaz or Ben & Jerrys.
Yes, that’s right. Decorations. Because we create ambience when we host a dinner party, okay? The levels of which are of course completely adaptable. You can go for straight a straight forward lamps and candles move. Or you could do the whole shebang and fill your living room/dining room/flat with bunting and balloons. It’s totally fine if you skip out on the red and pink colour scheme, just throw up whatever you’ve got left from the last birthday party you held at yours – anything that feels celebratory will do.
Fairy lights are a must, because what’s a party without fairy lights? And tell your mates to bring flowers and you’ve got yourself a centrepiece. If you’re feeling super cutesy, you can always print off some pics of you and your mates to put around the place and laugh and reminisce about simpler times. Aww.
Background music is a must (emphasis on background). The trick is to go for tracks that won't completely take away from all of your culinary efforts. If you're super hip you might have a record player to hand. The beauty of going for one of these is that you're forced to just let the record play. No ifs, no buts, no skipping. Perfect for a seamless soundtrack to your evening.
If you don't have a record player though, delve right into the deep dark depths of Spotify and look for something other than that 00s Pop Hits playlist you've been relying on for pre drinks. There are loads of dinner party playlists on there which can be a bit overwhelming. My top tip would be to search for an artist that will go really well with your dinner party vibe (Des'ree 'You Gotta Be' is a personal favourite place to start. Don't judge me).
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At work? With your gran?
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