Do it Yourself

Wooded Dinner Party | How to Plan an Outdoor Party on Short Notice

Today’s inspiring wooded dinner party plan and shopping trip has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StouffersHoliday #CollectiveBias
We have friends over almost every weekend and sometimes getting a meal together can be a challenge. Especially a last minute meal.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be. I’m going to share some of my favorite short notice party tips with you. They are going to help you pull together a fun party at short notice without going nuts.
Never again will you get all frazzled, when you have these solid party planning tips in your arsenal. 

Mix Store Bought & Homemade Menu Items

When I’m pressed for time I love incorporating a mixture of home cooked and store brought items. I’ve never had a guest say to me, “is this store bought? It sure taste like it is.”

I have a knack for making store bought foods  look and taste homemade by doing one simple thing to them. 

Always embellish store bought foods.

I’ll show you an example of a last minute menu plan using STOUFFER’S® Family Size Lasagna with Meat Sauce and bagged salad. I’ll also show you how to create a wooded dinner party using some things from your backyard (or craft store).

Great food paired with a beautiful atmosphere is all you need for a last minute dinner party.

A good entrée when pressed for time is STOUFFER’S Lasagna. It comes in all different sizes to accommodate any social event. For my event, I used a STOUFFER’S Lasagna with meat sauce family size box from the Walmart frozen food section.

To give it a home cooked feel, I baked it for 50 minutes, then removed it from the oven.

Then I lined the bottom of a casserole dish with thin slices of french bread. 

Next, I mixed butter, olive oil and garlic together and brushed it onto the french bread. 

Now here’s the fun part. I transferred the STOUFFER’S Lasagna from it’s baking dish and placed it atop the french bread. I transferred the lasagna, section by sections until the french bread was covered. Once the lasagna was all transferred, I placed it back into to oven to bake another 20 minutes.

I paired the lasagna with a bagged salad. Bagged salads by themselves are nothing special, but when you incorporate some of your favorite salad add ins, you create something your guests will enjoy.

For my bagged salad I added olives, cucumbers, tomato and artichoke. I feel like these add ins make the salad so much more substantial. I served the salad on a simple white dish.

Once the food was ready, I started working on my table.

Shop Your Home First

Don’t be afraid to shop your home before shopping the store. It’s a great way to save money and repurpose items. 

For my Wooded Dinner Party, I shopped my backyard for pinecones, branches, and rocks. I have a ton of free natural elements back there, great for fall decorating.  

Here’s what my shopping list looked like.

  1. Pinecones
  2. Branches
  3. River Rocks
  4. Candles
  5. Fall Colored Napkins
  6. Bakers Twine
  7. Dinner Plates & Silverware
  8. Tablecloth
  9. Pillows

After shopping the stores and my backyard, I started on my do-it-yourself projects. 

Make It If You Can
    Making things for your tablescape or party is another way to save money and also customize your decor. I wanted to by linen napkins, but they weren’t in the budget. Instead of the linen napkins I wanted, I used folded paper napkins and tied them in with color.

    I saved money by not only making my napkins, but my center piece and place holders as well. 

    Pine-Cone Centerpiece

    Pine-Cone Place Card

    Silverware Holder Tutorial

    I used two napkins in different colors and sizes.

    The smaller napkin I folded into thirds to create a strip to wrap around the larger napkin.

    Next, I took the larger napkin and folded two corners inward. Then I took the strip I  made with the smaller napkin and wrapped it around the center of the larger napkin.

    The last thing I did was wrap the middle strip with bakers twine and tied a bow.

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      Styling My Table

      To cover the table I used canvas drop cloth. I love the neutral color in this fabric and the amount of fabric I get for the cost.

      Once I had all of the decor and food, I began arranging it on the table until I liked the finished look.

      Here’s my wooded dinner table once everything was in place. The weather was perfect and so was the food.

      For more flavorful food inspiration be sure to check out the STOUFFER’S® pinterest board. And for more of my super easy entraining ideas, check out other parties I’ve planned.

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      39 thoughts on “Wooded Dinner Party | How to Plan an Outdoor Party on Short Notice

      1. I can't believe how many ideas you came up with here that I want to replicate. Brilliant!

      2. I hope I can pull this off as well as you did! You did a great job!

      3. I love outdoor parties. I'm actually disappointed when the weather starts to change here in New York and it gets too cold to host these types of events.

        1. Much of the outdoor events up North have to be in the Spring, but it can be too windy or in the Summer. New York is great for winter holiday parties though, because NYC feels like true winter weather. Here we can havd 70's in December. That's never the case in NYC

      4. What a great post. I particularly liked the ideas, tips, menu and overall spread and can envision accessorising the table and planning the menu.


      5. Totally loving how everything came out so nicely! I like the idea of using store bought food and making them look homemade lol Great job!

        1. I prefer home cooked but I want hostesses to know its okay to use store bought in a time crunch. Just embellish it if possible.

      6. love this! it looks great. I wish it wasn't so chilly here, I'd love to plan a little outdoor get together like this! – Jeanine

        1. Thanks Brittany. Such simple projects I hope even a non crafty person feels like they can duplicate

      7. Can I just say #nailedit !! You definitely know how to throw an effortless party and make it look incredible. Writing notes.

      8. I love how you dressed it all up!!! Great idea to always embellish- great way to save time and make it easy, but also special!

      9. Wow!!! Such a beautiful table. I totally agree- dressing up a packaged food can be a lifesaver!

      10. You make it look so easy! This is fabulous! The STOUFFER'S Lasagna is perfect for those last minute guests. I love all the decor and ideas! -client

        1. I had a friend who didn't cook much her husband was more of the chef of the family but when she put things together she would totally cater or bring in takeout

      11. You Know what, You can come to mine any day and do all these artistic work and make it look like a Dinner for a royal guest! And thanks for the tips on Store Bagged foods…Superb!

        1. Thanks so much Julie. Yes sometimes we just don't have time to cook an entire meal so using store-bought stuff is definitely a good way to go

      12. Whoa, that is an amazing post and you are very talented. I love how you showed how to create the folded napkin and use things from home or outside from nature to decorate. Being creative with what you have instead of having to feel the need to buy to create. Very nice post!!! Beth,

        1. Thanks Beth I really wanted people to feel like this was something that they can re-create even if not everything maybe bits and pieces of it .

      13. I'm not big on dinner parties, mostly because I just don't have people around me to do that with. However, this set up is absolutely gorgeous. Also, Stouffer's foods are delicious! I haven't had the lasagna in a long time, but I think I'm going to have to try it again soon!

        1. I love the new lasagna is preservative free and it has natural ingredients I love that the cheese is all natural too

      14. I am going to call you when I have to plan a party at the last minute! You are a rockstar!

      Let's continue to conversation in the comment section.