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Hosting a Party Without Cooking

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Learn the tricks to hosting a party without cooking – these are the perfect life hacks to help you host game nights, book clubs, and casual get-togethers with friends.

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How do you host a party without cooking on an 85-degree day? That was exactly my conundrum when I invited two friends over just as Chicago was turning up the heat and humidity. I didn’t want to turn my oven or stove on and heat up my home, so instead, I took on the challenge of creating an elegant menu that didn’t involve cooking. 

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I decided that it was all about presentation. I took casual foods, many of which I purchased at Trader Joe’s, and then presented them in a way that looked impressive – even though the food itself was casual.

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To drink, I made a pitcher full of Lemon Spritzes, a light and refreshing cocktail ideal for a hot day. I think that the best way to greet guests after a day of work is to hand them an ice-cold drink. A Lemon Spritz is made with just three ingredients and is bubbly and not too strong, it is something that most people tend to enjoy.  

Hosting a Party without Cooking

My Tips For Hosting A Party Without Cooking:

  • Cover your bases. Serve appetizers, something a bit more hearty, dessert, and a cocktail.
  • Presentation is key. Take dips out of their packaging and serve them out of pretty bowls. Fresh flowers make a gathering feel more formal.
  • Garnish dips. This is an easy way to make something look fancy. You can garnish with fresh herbs, pine nuts, or a sprinkle of a spice or everything but the bagel seasoning. Depending on the dip, you could swirl in some pesto, sour cream, or sriracha.
  • For some mysterious reason, food looks fancier when it is presented charcuterie board style, piled up on a slab of marble or on a cutting board.
  • Make it look plentiful. Fill the surface, it just looks better that way.
  • I like to give guests options, so I served two dips, two types of meat, three types of cheese, and three types of crackers/chips.
  • Make something. Mix up a cocktail or whip up a dip in your food processor. I think it is always nice to serve one thing that you made yourself – and there are plenty of things that you can make without actually cooking.
  • Trader Joe’s is the place to go. It isn’t my regular grocery store, but it is the place to find snacks and appetizers that will make your life easier.
  • Use real plates and glasses. I think that a gathering feels so much less special when you are handed a plastic cup (and it isn’t eco-friendly).
  • Everyone loves cookies and brownies. I think that this is a fact. Just pick some up at the bakery section of your grocery store!

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My No-Cook Party Menu:

Pesto Hummus
Red Pepper Dip
Elote Corn Chip Dippers (Trader Joe’s)
Pita Chips
Multi-Seed Rice Thin Crackers (made by Back to Nature)
Sliced Turkey
Sliced Cheddar
Sliced Colby Jack
Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar (I crumbled it)
Everything Ciabatta Rolls (Trader Joe’s)
Black and White Cookies
Lemon Spritzes

My friends could snack or make a sandwich and have a full meal. It was up to them. 

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