I can feed my family of 4 just fine. But add our extended family and I get really stressed out! Instead of not wanting to have them over, I took it upon myself to figure out how to put together an easy dinner party! These celebration dinner ideas, including an easy polenta recipe for a delicious side dish, keep me from being stuck in the kitchen and freaking out about hosting a large group in my home.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #STOUFFERSGOODNESS #CollectiveBiasWe do really like to get the family together to celebrate an occasion or just hang out. But someone always gets stuck in the kitchen. I decided to take it in to my own hands and figure out how to throw an easy dinner party for the family. These celebration dinner ideas are perfect for hosting a fun party and feeding your family well without spending hours on the meal! I’m showing you how using STOUFFER’S® goodness can help you throw a fast, fabulous family dinner party! While we usually throw our kid’s birthday parties on a weekend, we still like to celebrate on their actual birthday, even if it falls on a school night. We always invite the extended family and, if they are free, they come for dinner. We save the crazy decorating for the themed parties but we still like to make a little fuss. But this fuss doesn’t have to become fussy or complicated.
Celebration Dinner Ideas
Especially great for a weeknight easy dinner party!
MENU: Save the gourmet dishes and elaborate recipes for another time. This easy dinner party menu is delicious and starts with a few store-bought items mixed with a few super easy side dishes. There are a few things that I will never make at home because I could never do them justice. That includes lasagna and mac and cheese.
Why would I spend all that time in the kitchen when STOUFFER’S® nailed those recipes!? What’s even better is that our favorite STOUFFER’S® dishes come in family size! If you’re looking for large, family gathering meals, these are great! This frees me up to bake a cake (or at least a glaze for a store-bought cake), and make a yummy side dish. DRINKS: Set up a simple station so the family can serve themselves. If your family is like ours, you’ll never find a moment to sit down thanks to the kids needing help doing this or that. A beverage station ensures that most of the kids can get their own drinks. The older kids can help the smaller ones or other adults will jump in when they feel like the situation might be going awry.
I am not one of those gals who says no to plastic cups. They make tons of sense for an easy dinner party where you don’t want there to be a lot of clean up. And they come in tons of pretty patterns to add to the party decor, however elaborate you want to get with it. I always like to set out letter stickers by the beverage station so the kids (and adults too) can find their initial and stick it to their cup. This helps to not waste so many cups. It’s amazing to me how random cups get left all over the house when people come over. Stickers are inexpensive and don’t take much space to store. There is always the marker method too. I don’t know about you, but kids and markers frighten me…I’ll stick with stickers…get it? DECOR: Nothing brightens up a table and makes it feel more special, quickly, than fresh flowers. Flowers can be on the expensive side but places like Walmart carry bouquets for a very reasonable price. I buy one bunch and then break them up in to smaller arrangements. I use empty glass food jars, in different sizes, as easy and inexpensive vases.
Or you can have your kids help with this by looking around your yard to see if you have any flowers blooming or pretty greenery. You can send these little arrangements home with your family members or place them around the house when everyone has gone. I love having fresh flowers in my home. It feels so decadent.
balloon, string or yarn, scissors and tape.
Step 1: Layout your supplies and try to figure out what size and color balloons you want to put together.
Step 2: Blow up the balloons. Leave a little extra string at one end and then tie the string around the balloon knot. Continue tying balloons, on the same string, until you have the desired amount. This is a very easy DIY so don’t even think about measuring! Just tie on the balloons where you think they will look the best.
Step 3: Hang the balloon strings with tape. I suggest washi tape or masking tape so it doesn’t mess with your paint. Don’t find that one out the hard way like I did… Since I knew I wanted 3 balloon strings, I taped up the first, finished one so I could gauge where I wanted the other balloons to fall in comparison. This whole project took me about 5 minutes. And a BIG thank you to my husband for blowing up the balloons so I didn’t pass out. (I’m a lightweight).
Depending on how many people you are having over will help you determine how many lasagnas to buy. I served STOUFFER’S® Meat Lovers Lasagna (family size, serves about 8), STOUFFER’S® Lasagna with Meat and Sauce (family size, serves about 7), and STOUFFER’S® Mac & Cheese (family size, serves about 5, but also sold in party size!).
My kids are odd and don’t love lasagna, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like mac and cheese especially when it’s made with real cheddar! These are the same meals my mom fed me as a kid and I think I love them even more now because I know they are not only delicious but also a quick dinner idea!
We’ve always loved STOUFFER’S® Lasagna with Meat and Sauce thanks to the real mozzarella and no preservatives. But I have to say, I think my new favorite is STOUFFER’S® Meat Lover’s Lasagna. It has three types of meat; Italian sausage, ground beef and pepperoni. YUM!
Once in a while I’ll buy a family size for just for the 4 of us, for a quick weeknight meal. I always end up with just a little leftover which is awesome since I get to have it for lunch the next day.
Easy Polenta Recipe For a Side Dish
RECIPE: To go along with the lasagna and mac and cheese, I decided to make one of my favorite, simple side dishes. I made Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Tomatoes. This easy polenta recipe is so flavorful! This is going to be one of your favorites. It seems a little out of the box because of the polenta, but it’s really basic. When you tell your guests what you made, they’ll look at you like you are super fancy. Just smile at them, especially since you know how easy it was.
Easy Polenta Recipe
- 1 tube of Polenta, You can also by it in a box and make it from scratch but it is sometimes harder to find
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 carton mushrooms, I like baby bellas but any kind will work
- 1 carton cherry tomatoes
- 1 large shallot
- 3 cloves garlic
- olive oil
- sea salt
- parmesan, optional
Prepare the Veggies
- Clean the mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
- Cut the mushrooms into smaller pieces and cherry tomatoes in half. (kitchen shears work really well for this!) (picture 2)
- Place mushrooms and tomatoes on a sheet pan.
- Chop the shallot and add to the sheet pan.
- Crush the garlic cloves and add to the sheet pan.
- Drizzle with about a TBSP of olive oil and toss to coat.
- Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
To Make the Polenta
- Take the polenta out of the packaging and put it in a saucepan.
- Add 1/2 cup milk and TBSP butter.
- Heat on medium, stirring to soften.
- Use a potato masher to break up the polenta and incorporate the butter and milk. (picture 3)
- It should resemble mashed potatoes.
- If it gets too sticky, add more milk.
How to Put it All Together
- When polenta is ready, place it in a serving dish. (picture 4)
- Top with roasted mushroom mixture.
- Drizzle with a little olive oil over the top.
- Sprinkle on some sea salt.
- Serve with parmesan, if desired.
Serving Size12 Servings
Amount Per Serving Calories 387
Round out the menu by serving some cheese bread and a green salad. While this menu is really simple, it is filling, feeds a lot of people and is comfort food at its finest. Except the salad. But we have to have salad sometimes…Set the meal up buffet style. I prefer to use paper plates (for family get togethers, if we’re having new friends over, I always start with the real deal and once I find out if they are judgey or not, I switch to paper…). Paper plates make clean up a breeze and because they come in all kinds of patterns and colors.
If I have used paper plates and plastic cups, I like to get crazy and use fabric napkins. It’s an unexpected touch and a great way to add color. And you just toss them in to the washing machine after dinner. When serving hot items take care to not ruin your table surface. I had my dad make me these simple wood rounds to use as trivets. I love how rustic they are and, surprisingly, they work in to all kinds of decor.Yum on a plate. Look for these great meal solutions next time you are shopping at Walmart. I like to keep one in the freezer for those last-minute meal time emergencies. I love a good versatile product that can work both in a pinch and for an easy dinner party!
For your convenience…You can find STOUFFER’S® Meat Lovers Lasagna, STOUFFER’S® Lasagna with Meat and Sauce and STOUFFER’S® Mac & Cheese family and party sized portions in the frozen section of your Walmart store. Although the single serve portions are placed in another area, look for the aisle featuring easy oven meals and convenience meals. What is your go-to family dinner meal? Consider these delicious entrees next time you are planning a family dinner party!
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