How to Host a Literary Dinner Party

Dinner parties are a fun, easy way to get together with your friends in a memorable way. Whether in a cozy dining room on a wintry evening, or al fresco for summer, a dinner party can get a new twist when you throw books into the mix. Hosting a literary dinner party allows you to express your creativity in the kitchen, and guarantees fun conversation among your guests.

It’s easy to throw a literary dinner party:
1. Pick a book. This will create the “theme” of your party.
2. Create a menu.
3. Create a dinner setting.

Invite Your Guests
For a literary dinner party, you need to keep the guest list to a minimum, 4-8 people is ideal. Pick up the phone, or if the theme is a little more extravagant (i.e. If you’re discussing The Great Gatsby) some print invitations in the mail will add a special touch. Let them know the “theme” (the book) of the party.

Have Guests Bring a Copy of the Book
Whether it’s a library copy, a used book or a first edition, your guests should bring a copy of the book you selected as the dinner party theme. Ask them to select their favorite passage to read aloud after dinner (or as an icebreaker during cocktail hour). They can dress up as characters, bring props, or act out scenes. Have fun and be creative!

Set the Scene For Your Dinner Party
Does the book take place on a tropical island? Line the driveway with tiki torches or include some bananas and coconuts as part of a table centerpiece. Is your selection a noir book? Use black and white plates, napkins, candles, and dramatic place setting cards. Use lighting, table decor, background music, the entrance ways and the kitchen to reflect the book and the menu.

Send Them Home With a Gift
An unique dinner party favor will end the evening on a pleasant note. Send your guests home with a nice bookmark or bookplate.

Create the Menu
This is the most challenging and most exciting part: creating a menu based upon the book you selected. Remember, you always have cookbooks at your fingertips. Browse, mark, and combine different food pairings to capture the themes or settings of the book in real life! I’ve included some custom sample menus below:

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Carson McCullers:  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Fried Catfish
Seasoned Corn Bread or Hushpuppies
Steamed Collard Greens
Sweet Potato Pie
RC Cola or sweet tea

Lord of the Flies

William Golding:  Lord of the Flies

Codfish or Wild Salmon w/ Coconut Sauce & Jasmine Rice (optional: serve in banana leaves)
Curried Pork Roast
Mango & Red Cabbage Slaw (garnish with cilantro)
spring water or Mai Tais


Vladimir Nabokov:  Lolita

Grilled Cheeseburgers (with a toppings bar, incl lettuce, tomato, condiments, pickles, onions, etc.)
Russet Potato Oven Fries
Classic Hot Fudge Brownie Sundaes
Shirley Temples or scotch and soda

Portrait of a Lady

Henry James: Portrait of a Lady

Rack of Lamb with Red Currant-Wine Sauce
Seared Asparagus with Garlic-Infused Butter
Roasted New Potatoes
Maple-Baked Pears
Light Pinot Noir or sparkling water

Swann's WayMarcel Proust: Swann’s Way

Brunch Menu!

Grand Marnier French Toast
Coddled Eggs
Fresh Seasonal Berries with Cream
Fragrant Tea or Champagne

This entry was written by and posted on January 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm, filed under For Fun, How-to and tagged . Bookmark the permalink

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