Happy December! (Seriously, how did the year go by so fast?!) ‘Tis the season for yuletide cheer, year-end best-of lists, gift exchanges (and the mad rush at the malls to get said gifts), and obligatory office holiday parties.

It’s also the season for festive functions and putting on your hostess hat to graciously welcome your close family and friends into your home. Finalizing the guest list and checking it twice; putting together a menu that will satisfy all discerning tastes; and primping up the home so it’s shiny and bright. The hostess’ job is never easy.

Hosting a dinner party can feel overwhelming, even if you have done it many times before. As a host you need to remember: if you’re having fun, so will your guests. Stick to your comfort zone. This is not the best time to try ingredients you have never used or try a new recipe with unfamiliar techniques.If you’re looking for a break from the typical dinner party, here are a few ideas for interactive entertaining for a memorable evening of mingling guests, happily full from a delicious menu.


Cooking Competitions: Iron Chef Home Edition

Photo source: Amanpreet Atwal

Don’t just have guests over — put them to work! Take a page from the Food Network and host an interactive evening of competitive cooking, like an at-home Iron Chef competition.

Best for: A group up for some friendly competition and willing to sing for their supper.

Party essentials: Lots of counter space, and a variety of kitchen tools and dishes.

In advance of your dinner event, divide your guests into small teams, and assign each team to be responsible for preparing one item for one dinner course (drinks, appetizers, dinner or dessert). Pick a secret ingredient which needs to be incorporated in the assigned course.

As the host, provide your guests with whatever ingredients they need to prepare their dish (or compensate them later for their expenses towards the competition). To manage logistics, encourage your guests to do as much prep for their secret drink/dish in advance; they can then finish up the dish and plating at the dinner party.

Create a score sheet for each participant (can’t score your own round), to share their thoughts on originality, plating and taste. At the end of the night, use the score sheets to determine the winning team. End off the cooking competition extravaganza with certificates of achievements and small prizes (like gift cards).

Recipe Ideas: See Naveen Atwal’s Mint Vanilla Cake with Mint Chocolate Centre and Mint Syrup

And, don’t forget to photograph the whole event!


NEXT: Wine + Grilled Cheese Party and Breakfast for the Holidays – Click Here for Page 2 of the Menu: Holiday Edition

the Menu is Jugni Style’s newest lifestyle column written by Naveen Atwal, bringing you details on what to eat and how to make it. Plus tips on entertaining like a pro – or at least pretending you are!