Host A Singles-Only
Valentine’s Day Soirée
Valentine’s Day won’t be here for another week or so. However, I am publishing this blog post early to give you guys enough time to prepare in case reading this inspires (or persuades) you to host a Singles-Only Soirée for Valentine’s Day (a great decision you won’t regret!).
Whether you choose to mix together your male and female single friends, or make it a gathering exclusive only to your single gal pals, hosting a Singles-Only Valentine’s Day Soirée at home totally makes sense. In fact, it is a brilliant way to break the V-Day stereotypes by throwing a party in honor of the people who happily and proudly consider themselves “single and ready to mingle”!
If you find the idea appealing, here are a few tips to guide you on planning your soirée.
When you’re sending out your invitations, it is a must to inform your intended guests of the theme and what they can expect (or what’s expected of them) so that they can give you an honest and accurate response when they RSVP. Some of the great themes for a Singles-Only Valentine’s Day Soirée are:
Game Night: Ask your guests to bring their favorite board game but only to offer variety. You should be able to provide your own in case nobody else brings any. Choose a game that’s fun, hilarious, doesn’t require a lot of props or participants (4-12 person game should be good), and can be finished in an hour or an hour and a half. A few great suggestions would be Catchphrase, LCR (dice game), Charades, etc.
Movie Night: Ask your guests to bring a DVD copy of their favorite romantic-comedy film. The featured movie of the evening will have to be voted by the majority
Wine & Cheese Night: This is a wine-and-cheese pairing type of party. As the name suggests, only a variety of wine and cheeses are to be served; light dinner or other hors d’oeuvres are optional.
Champagne & Dessert Night: (Alternatively, Drinks & Dessert Night) This is a great after-dinner party theme. Ask your guests to swing by your place for some drinks and desserts. Normally, that should make it clear to them that they will not be served full dinner at your soirée, but just to make sure you convey that message clearly – but politely – see to it that the wording on your invite is absolutely clear: “Please join me for an after-dinner drinks & dessert…”. Also, don’t schedule your soiree during prime dinner time, when guests will naturally expect to be fed. Any time after eight or nine-ish (PM) should be a good time. It would still be wise though to prepare some hors d’oeuvres or even just one pasta dish that you can quickly heat up for guests who might show up hungry.
Make-Your-Own Pizza Night: This is a fabulous interactive-food party theme that will surely get your guests mingling and talking while assembling their food. Make your dough at least a day before your soiree and use a quick-cooking recipe that cooks for 10 minutes or less. On the day of your soirée, all you’ll have to prepare are your toppings, pizza cutter, pizza peel, pizza stone and your oven.
Lighting: Dim the overhead lights and bring out your candles! Bright, fluorescent light has no place for intimate gatherings such as a Singles-Only Valentine’s Day Soirée, while a yellowish peach light is flattering to all skin tones. To further amp up your mood lighting, light up a few pillar candles and place it all around the party room. Pillar candles are much better to use than taper candles because it takes longer to burn the former out.
Music: Depending on the theme, you should prepare a playlist of tunes that would run for at least three hours and set on auto-play so you can just press the “play” button and not have to think about it for the rest of the evening. The music should start out soft and then gradually pick up the groove by adding up-tempo tunes halfway through the playlist (especially if you’re throwing a “Game Night” themed soirée). That being said, you should create your playlist at least a day or two prior to the party night and carefully plan the sequence and running time of the tracks. If you’re not particular about the track sequence, then it would be okay to have your playlist set on “shuffle”.
Decor: You may decorate your place with heart-shaped balloons or hang heart-shaped paper cut-outs on the wall or throw heart-shaped pillows on the floor, but truthfully, a few fresh flowers should suffice. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive type either. Inexpensive large blooms in pink and red hues grouped together in vases will give the appearance of abundance without breaking the bank. Even just one floral arrangement used as a table centerpiece should suffice, especially if you’re working on a tight budget. No flowers? Not to worry! Use an assortment of red fruits such as apples, strawberries, cherries (with stems), etc. as your centerpiece.
Table Arrangement: For dinnerware, you don’t really have to go out and buy an all-red Valentine-themed set (unless of course if you already have them and those are what you’d like to use). For fail-proof styling though, stick to whites. Simple. Elegant. Classic. It’s just impossible to go wrong!
Place cards are used to eliminate confusion when seating more than six people around a dining table together. It used to be the case that they are only used at formal affairs. Nowadays, you may use place cards even for informal or casual parties, especially if there are specific guests (or type of guests) that you want seated together or seated apart. For informal or casual dinner parties, just be creative with your place cards so that they help set a fun and relaxed atmosphere. If you have Valentine’s Day gifts to give to each of your guests (depending on the size of the gift, of course), placing the gift on top of the salad plate or soup bowl with the gift tag serving as the guest’s place card is also a LOVE-ly touch.
Appetizers: I would recommend that you serve appetizers that are easiest and quickest to prepare, so that you can have something ready in a jiff for your early-birds to nibble on while you work on your finishing touches. It may be something you can quickly grab from the food store like chips and dips or salsa or some assorted nuts. Just make sure to transfer them from their original plastic packaging and into pretty serving bowls.
Main Course: Keep it light. The highlight of your soirée should be the company of your friends. I’m most assuredly not saying neglect the menu altogether. Food is one of the most important elements of home entertaining, or any party for that matter. All I’m saying here is that your main course (should you decide to go for a full dinner menu) should not be too fancy or heavy that it requires a lot from you in terms of time and energy to prepare. The main objective here is to spend some quality time with your friends. Showing off your culinary skills should only be a distant second.
Dessert: Not quite the baker? Fret not. It’s totally acceptable to get your desserts from a local cake shop or patisserie. It doesn’t even have to be the most fancy dessert. You can never go wrong with moist chocolate cake. It’s a tried and tested crowd pleaser at any party. A Red Velvet Cake is also a gorgeous choice and very appropriate for the occasion! Not looking forward to all that (cake) slicing while in the midst of having fun? Cupcakes and Heart-Shaped Cake Pops are the way to go then! If you still want to present something that you personally made, without having to worry about having (or not having) the baking prowess or the oven, try serving some Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. Now, if THAT doesn’t have “Valentine’s Day” written all over it, I don’t know what does!
Just remember, the dessert ought to be a sweet ending to your soirée. So whatever you choose to serve eventually should not be one that would cause you any stress or burn a hole in your pocket. Keep it simple, sweet and elegant.
Beverage: Consider doing a BYOB (Bring Your Own Beverage) with your guests. As a party host, you should still provide enough drinks for your guests even in a BYOB set up, just in case only a few of your guests manage to bring any. Make sure to have non-alcoholic options for the non-drinkers like juices, iced tea or club soda. Another fun and festive setup would be to feature a Mix-Your-Own-Cocktail Bar. Politely assign each of your guests to bring a bottle of a specific cocktail or martini mixer (gin, dry vermouth, vodka, rum, tequila, etc.). Doing it this way (as opposed to simply asking them to bring a bottle of their favorite drink) will eliminate the chances of having everyone bring the same thing. Provide the non-alcoholic mixers (juices, tabasco sauce, worcestershire sauce, club soda, etc.) and garnishes. Make sure you have several shakers on hand and plenty of ice!
If you’re feeling extra generous and creative, you might wanna consider making your own Singles-Only Valentine’s Day Soirée signature drink.
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS...
- Serve easy-to-eat, bite-size hors d’oeuvres.
- Go easy on the garlic and onions in your recipes. You don’t want your guests to be constantly worried about their breath throughout the night, especially when you’re trying to encourage everyone to mingle and interact with one another.
- Have a bowl of lemon slices, fresh mint, basil or parsley leaves placed in various spots around the room for guests who might worry about their breath. Another bowl containing chewing gums or mint candies may also be added.
- As much as possible also, avoid serving food that will cause excessive gas (gas-inducers or gassy food) such as broccoli, beans, cabbage, etc.
- Incorporate some “sexiness” into your menu by adding some known aphrodisiac foods such as oysters, chocolates, wild mushrooms, figs, honey, asparagus, almonds, avocado, etc.
- Aside from the DIY Bar and the MYO Pizza Party I suggested earlier, setting up other interactive food (MYO Taco, Pasta, Mongolian BBQ, Ice Cream Sundae, etc.) stations – a more trendy and chic alternative to the traditional buffet table – offers a great opportunity for guests to mingle, start a conversation and have loads of fun time assembling their food together.
- Consider setting up not just one but multiple buffet tables or food stations in different areas of the room to disperse your guests and keep them from crowding around one buffet table. Ideally, it would be smart to set up a buffet table, a beverage bar and a dessert bar separately. However, if you’re working with a tiny space, simply setting up a separate beverage bar would by itself make a significant difference.
- If you will be having a sit-down type of dinner, it would be a smart idea to set up your dinner table the night before your soirée. The same thing goes for your buffet table. Just arrange the chafing dishes and beverage servers the way you would have them set up on the day of your soiree. Doing so will free up more time for you to focus on food preparation (and looking pretty) the next day.
- If you will be doing all the cooking, plan your schedule in such a way that you finish all the cooking at least an hour and a half before your guests are expected to arrive. This should give you enough time to take a shower, do your makeup , get dressed and do the finishing details of your soirée. Keep all the food warm in chafing dishes or warming trays, or refrigerate what needs to be kept cold.
- Other important things that are often overlooked or forgotten (that you shouldn’t) are wine opener or corkscrew, bottle opener, bin for bottle caps, ice and ice bucket, paper towels (for accidental spills), coasters (to protect your table tops), candle lighter, food keepers (for guests who might wanna take home some leftovers), party picks, drink stirrers, cocktail straws, and make sure to have some coffee to serve to anyone who asks for it or to help “wake up” anyone who might have had too much to drink.
Have fun planning your Singles-Only Valentine’s Day Soiree!