JOMO: The EC Guide to Dining In

Hosting is in our DNA – we’ve been assembling cheese plates since we were three – and we’ve got a strong arsenal of tips and tricks for building a menu, but more importantly – creating a mood. 

We love dinner parties because they’re an excuse to test drive new recipes and playlists, cocktails and natty wines, but also because they’re an indulgence. In an age of #JOMO (the joy of missing out) and focus on self-care, they’re a perfect oasis for gathering your favorite people and taking a break from the outside world. 

We’re here to share our summer 2019 tips and tricks for maximizing pleasure, and minimizing effort for your next dinner party. Here we go!

*Photo credit:

Cheaper, fresher ingredients *on a budget* 

A big blocker to hosting is cost. It can be expensive to throw together a dinner for 10-15 people (yes, we are always feeling ambitious!). We like to road trip to the suburbs for fresh, delicious and slightly exotic ingredients. Instead of doing tons of little trips – European style – to specialty markets, grab a friend, a car, and make a morning of it. We’re currently obsessed with Fresh Farms on Touhy and Jerry’s Fruit Ranch — two markets with diverse fruits, veggies, fish selection, canned goods, and imported delicacies from around the world (feta, olives, tinned fish, desserts, breads, etc). These groceries have an ethnic twist that makes the shopping itself an anthropological event — and are much easier on your bank account. And if you want to stay closer to home, check out our local farmer’s market guide.

Pull inspiration from things you love 

Build your shopping list and your theme around the things you’re organically obsessed with right now. Could be natural wines, a travel destination, an author, a jazz record, or a board on Pinterest. Take that focus point and build your evening around it; it’ll give you a central theme to work with and will help organize everything from your color palette and decor to your playlist and bar cart.

Cooking across ethnicities and oceans

Don’t be afraid to be playful. Yes, it’s a good idea to cook things you have some experience producing (I tried making handmade pasta dough for 12, on the fly, would not recommend!) – but choose a dish or two that you’ve been wanting to try and haven’t had an excuse to test drive. Dinner parties are a great way to both expand your repertoire and work the muscle of creative cooking. Some current cookbook obsessions: “Palestine on a Plate” and “Where Flavor Was Born”.

Waste not, want not – use what you’ve got

Half the fun is invention, especially on the cocktail front; use that half drunk bottle of wine, make a cocktail out of the yellow chartreuse someone gave you for your last bday. This is an opportunity to experiment, and play mixologist. Check out these words of wisdom from Alison Roman. *Photo credit: Bon Appetit

Add homemade details to your pantry

If you have the time, spend a day or two bulking up your home pantry. Make granola (you can throw them into a crust for a seasonal berry crumble) or pickle some cucumbers for an aperitivo + charcuterie plate. Little touches add big personality to your meal. Check out this guide to homemade kombucha for a signature cocktail. and this feature from Modern Wifestyle. *Photo credit: Modern Wifestyle

Fresh flowers

Always, forever. Not optional! Right now we love peonies, lilies, chamomile, anything wild and local, and of course sunflowers. No dinner party is complete without the clean scent and color pop of a fresh floral.