One of my favorite things to do is throw themed dinner parties. I choose a theme (generally a type of cuisine or culture), prepare a menu, plan the decor, and create a special playlist for the occasion. In the past, I have done two French dinners, a Derby Day lunch, and, most recently, a Breakfast for Dinner soiree on Christmas Eve. I am always sure to organize the event in a way that reflects the customs of the culture I am using as inspiration. For instance, my French dinners followed the pattern of an authentic French dinner party (aperitifs and an amuse bouche followed by an entree, the main course, the salad course, the cheese course, dessert and a digestif), whereas my Southern meal was served family style.
So, Valentine’s Day is coming up in the next few weeks. I’ve always loved the idea of throwing a fabulous, feminine party on Valentine’s Day for a few close friends. Here, I’ve come up with a menu, a playlist, a few decorations and activities for the perfect Valentine’s Day party.
The two words I had in mind while I curated this menu were comfort and indulgence. To me, that could mean nothing other than one thing: cheese. As far as starters go, the cheese plate is a common choice. I recommend selecting two or three cheeses which range in texture and flavor for your plate. For chilly days in February, choose something fruity and strong-odored. The smellier, the better. If you want to keep it classic, try a Comté or Camembert. Or if you’re looking to try something a little different, I recommend Sartori’s Balsamic BellaVitano. It is absolutely delicious (especially on Carr’s Rosemary Crackers)! Some great cheese accompaniments are Carr’s crackers, a simple baguette, prosciutto, and/or candied nuts. Next to the cheese plate, serve an assortment of seasonal fruit such as clementines, pears, and persimmons, as well as year-round fruits like apples, cranberries, and apricots. Finally, why not throw some chocolate into the mix? After all, Valentine’s Day is nothing if not an excuse to gorge oneself with all sorts of chocolate. Challah crackers topped with nutella and coconut are a perfect way to feed your sweet tooth.
Remember what I said about food that is comforting and indulgent? Well, the main course is where the cheese really comes into play. Mac & Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Truffles are the ultimate luxurious indulgence. This Truffled Macaroni & Cheese recipe combines the two to create something unspeakably delicious. If you’re looking for something a little bit less indulgent (but still special), you could try Pasta With Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce or Rigatoni with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Spicy Sausage (vegetarians can obvious make the recipe sans sausage).
I chose to keep the cocktails (and most of the desserts) pink, fruity, and frilly. The first is a Cranberry, Tangerine, and Pomegranate Punch to which champagne can be added for an extra kick. The second is more of a dessert cocktail. The POM Strawberry & Cream cocktail is made with vanilla vodka and looks positively adorable.
Last but not least, the desserts! Macarons are feminine, delicate, and delicious. Therefore, they are the perfect V-Day treat. They are certainly a more difficult dessert to make at home, so you may want to buy these beforehand. Thankfully, macarons are becoming more popular and are therefore easier to locate. If you’re in the city, you could pick some up from Laduree and if you’re not, I am willing to bet that there is a bakery near you that can provide the treats. If you are unable to make or purchase macarons, but still want for a delicate little dessert, try making a croquembouche. You can even cover the morsels in a pink frosted glaze, as seen here. No Valentine’s Day is complete without a classic, heart-shaped sugar cookie. You could make these beforehand or just bake the cookie and have your guests decorate them! The same goes for the third dessert, which I listed as “Build-Your-Own Cakes” (which I will talk more about in the activities section).
I tried to create a playlist that would appeal to a wide variety of people and is entertaining but not too distracting. I have to admit that some of the songs on this playlist are of questionable taste. I just know that when I get together with my friends, nostalgic music from the early 2000s always comes on eventually. It is inevitable.
All images courtesy of Pinterest.
These printable Valentine’s Day cards from Jessica Marie Design would make adorable invitations.
- Have a Build-Your-Own Cake station! Before the party, bake several small, round layer cakes (enough for each guest to have at least two layers). Set up a station with colored frostings and toppings (fruit, nuts, sprinkles, fondant pieces) so that each guest can create a unique dessert.
- Have a manicure session! Perhaps go out of your comfort zone by choosing a color or design that you would not or are not able to wear on a daily basis.
- Make old-fashioned Valentines!
- End the night with a movie (maybe a marathon?). Some ideas: Stuck In Love, Marie Antoinette, Definitely Maybe, Clueless, Bachelorette, Midnight in Paris.
Happy (Early) Valentine’s Day, everyone!