A hungry girl's adventures in Cleveland and beyond.

Dinner Party Inspiration: Retro

Have you thrown a dinner party lately? You might think you're too busy or don't know how to cook or maybe you're embarrassed of your house. Whatever your reasons, I say now is the time to take the plunge! With the temperatures dropping, there is no better time to invite some friends over.

This is the first in a series of Dinner Party Inspiration that will hopefully convince you to host a party of your own.
dinner party
I have several groups of friends that like to {dinner} party. One group takes turns hosting, the host makes the main dish and everyone else brings appetizers, sides and dessert. There may or may not be a theme involved, but there is always lots of great food and wine. Back when I belonged to an online wine club, I used to host wine parties where I would supply the wine and everyone would bring food. Or you could cook up a storm and just invite people over to help you eat it all. If you want the ultimate in ease, follow these five rules. But no matter what style you choose, as long as you have friends and food, it's sure to be a great time. 

My friend Sarah loves having friends over and hosts Supper Club every other month. It's always the same weekend so people can plan ahead and she selects a theme for each party.

I'm starting off my series with Sarah's last party theme because it was super easy and so much fun.
                        Retro Dinner Party


For this party idea, the theme can be really specific (all casseroles) or you can even pick a favorite decade (50s, 60s, and 70s). Sarah let it be a free for all and we ended up with an interesting and delicious mix of dishes.
Ambrosia, cheese balls, Lawson's chip dip, creamed peas and onion,
meatloaf and jello were all on the menu
My favorites of the night were big surprises! Melissa's Spam Sliders were so good. Spam is salty but oh so good. Loved the addition of grilled onions and cheese.
Spam Sliders
And even more surprisingly delicious was Sarah's Tomato Aspic. None of us had ever tried it before and were all nervous because you know, savory Jello - ew! But this one tasted like a tomato and cucumber salad or a Bloody Mary and was excellent! Not one bite was left.
Tomato Aspic
But the coolest dish for sure were Patricia and Jim's homemade TV dinners. In real metal trays. Genius! And they even included adorable homemade mini apple pies. Get trays to make your own here.
Homemade TV Dinner
Are you ready to throw your own Retro Dinner Party? If so, put on that apron and use this simple "recipe" to get you started:

1. Punch - it's a perfect way to kick off the festivities
2. Finger food - nibbles are my favorite 
3. Casseroles - a single dish of yum
4. Mystery meat - the perfect excuse to try some Spam!
5. Dips and cheeseballs - the possibilities are endless...and delicious
6. Creamed something
7. Beverages - old man beer and classic cocktails
8. Jello - classic, salad, aspic, finger Jello or maybe some Jello shots :) 
9. Something sweet

This is the perfect excuse to get out those serving trays and nut dishes...
Polka Dot Serving TrayNut Server
and tie on a pretty apron. These are so cute you'll want to keep them on all night!

If you need some recipes ideas, here are some to get you started:

Scratch or classic soup based tuna noodle casserole
Cheese Ball
Creamed peas and onions
Jello Salad

A great cookbook with lots of recipes is Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook - my Mom has this one and there are some gems in there.

Hope this post inspired you to host your own dinner party! If retro isn't your thing, stay tuned for other fun ideas like Campfire Dinner Party and Soup Party.