How to host a dinner party without cooking!
Dinner Parties | Entertaining | Helpful Hostess Tips

Hosting a Dinner Party Without Cooking

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Does hosting a dinner party without cooking seem impossible? It’s not, and I’m here to tell you how to do it!  I’m going to give you the blueprint to do this without ever taking out a pot or pan to cook in!

Step 1 – Figure out your guest list

Who is coming to your party? Have you decided to invite extended family? Friends from work? Your mom tribe? Your guests always determine what type of meal you’re going to serve, and that doesn’t change when you’re hosting a dinner party without cooking.  Always figure out your guest list before you decide on a menu.

You can get a Dinner Party Checklist for free by simply joining the Sweet Humble Home community!

Step 2 – Choosing your no-cook menu

Here are a few different ideas for no-cook menus:

  • Soup & Salad Bar
    • Pick up different already made soups from the salad bar at your local grocer as well as a bunch of different items from the salad bar to make your bagged salad greens even more special!
  • Tapas & Wine
    • Pick up appetizers from two different restaurants.  Place them in small amounts on small plates around the table – and there you have it! A fancy tapas party!
  • Picnic Chicken & Sides
    • One of the easiest meals ever!  Simply order enough fried chicken from a local caterer or even a fast food joint.  Get extra large sides, bring them home and put them all into pretty dishes.
  • Chinese Buffet
    • Did you know that most Chinese restaurants (at least in the towns I’ve lived in) will make large trays of your favorites if you give them notice? Talk about simple.  Again, everything into pretty dishes and you’re on your way! Imagine the decor you can play with for this theme!

All of these ideas along with the specific menus I’ve served and where I picked up the food are in my Hosting a Dinner Party Without Cooking FREE printable which you can download right after joining the Sweet Humble Home Community!


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Step 3 – Pick out your decor and serving pieces

The key to making any dinner party special is what you do to set it up.  The above ideas are mostly all buffet set ups.  This is how you would go about setting them up:

Choose a table covering.  I like to go one of two ways.  Either super festive or simple.  For the Picnic Chicken & Sides idea I would use something like this really sweet blue gingham tablecloth:


Let’s keep going with the Picnic Chicken theme.  The next step will be to choose serving pieces. More often than not I will choose to use white dishes.  They highlight the food, and go with any theme you decide on, so they are a smart investment.  Here are a few of my favorites:

I think it’s also important to mention while on the topic of serving dishes that it’s always a good idea to bring height differences into the mix.  Using different heights on your serving table creates visual interest as well as making all of the food visible to guests.

As for decor…..

Prettying up the table is super easy using what you probably already have on hand.  Live plants are pretty (and free).  Use flowers from your yard or an indoor plant on the outside table. Bunches of flowers (as seen below) from your local grocer can be cut down to size and placed in mis-matched vases around the buffet and the table.

Hosting a Dinner Party Without Cooking - Sweet Humble Home
Hosting a Dinner Party Without Cooking – Sweet Humble Home

For the Picnic Chicken theme I might add a little jute material tied with some twine around the salt and pepper shakers and glasses that I use to hold the utensils.  I would use baskets to hold the corn bread muffins, and place simple, textured placemats in a natural tone for each place setting.

The bottomline for decor – it does not have to complicated or Pinterest worthy.

Step 4: Set up your bar

Again, keep it simple.  I always encourage hosts to have one signature cocktail, a red, a white, and a non-alcoholic (in our Picnic Chicken theme I would choose sparkling lemonade).  You can also check out my article on Girls Weekend Cocktails – to get the ideas flowing! Make the set up easy.  Place everything either at the end of your buffet or on a side table.  I always place as much as I can into a drink tub which I keep on the counter.  The one I have is very similar to this one:

For each party I host I also use my beverage dispensers.  I generally fill one with water and lemon, and in this case, would fill the other with lemonade.  The one I have is below:

I added a small box with chalkboard paint so I can label the contents of each one.

Step 5 – Setting Up For The Party

The evening before set your table up for the party.  Get each of the place settings in place, and put the empty bowls with a sticky not inside as to what will be added to that dish right before guests arrive.  When all you have to do is come up with the food and place it into dishes – well, it couldn’t get easier than that!

Step 6 – About an hour before guests arrive pick up your food.

I usually have already picked up items like corn muffins, potato salad, and other sides ahead of time, but for the Picnic Chicken – go to where take-out friend chicken is best in your area, order as much as you’ll need along with any sides, come home and put everything into the oven on warm.  Fill your dishes about 10 – 15 minutes before guests are due to arrive.


Just like that you’ve put out an incredible spread that you didn’t have to cook!  See how easy that was? Now just press play on your playlist and enjoy your party!  Entertaining.  Simplified.

Let me know how it goes – and remember – if you’d like the full menus for what I use for no cook entertaining and where to pick it all up just join our community by clicking below and I’ll send it to you free of charge!  If you’re already part of the Sweet Humble Home Community – look for yours in your inbox soon!




Hosting A Dinner Party Without Cooking - Sweet Humble Home Entertaining Simplified

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