Hosting a fondue + painting party
I absolutely love hosting! Especially when it brings my friends together and gives us all a break from our busy lives to relax and unwind. One of my personal goals for 2017 was to throw more personalized events and embrace hosting more. (I have to admit, a very large influence may have been receiving Lauren Conrad’s Celebrate book as a Christmas gift...) There are so many factors that go into hosting such as meal planning, decorating and even selecting the ideal playlist! I’ve decided to share a breakdown of a recent fondue party I threw at home followed by a night at CANVAS for group painting. I'll be sharing my favorite fondue recipe, meal prepping tips and hosting need-to-knows should you need a reference as you host your next event!
Determining an event.
Since I moved to Seattle I had my eye on taking one of the paint while you sip classes, so when I discovered this could be done minutes away from my front door at CANVAS in Fremont, I was sold. The evening rate per person for a Sunday class was $25 including a $4 house wine and beer special.
For these types of events, the more the better. I knew several friends that also had the same ambition of taking a painting class, so I thought by gathering friends together at my place and going to the studio as a group would make for a fun afternoon and evening! I decided before we made our way to the Sunday evening painting class, I wanted to have everyone over beforehand for light bites and beverages. And so, the inviting and planning began...
I received a Cuisinart electric fondue pot for Christmas and I knew it was the perfect present that would provide me the excuse to host more people in my home. (See my other fondue post here) Fondue is a ‘group’ meal/activity that requires the group to gather around the fondue pot to dip, eat and indulge. I voted for a cheese fondue because it makes for a delicious appetizer, has plenty of dipping options but can also be quite filling.
Once I had a headcount for how many people were coming over, I started planning out what I wanted to serve my guests. For fondue, I knew I wanted to stick with my favorite cheese fondue recipe I hunted down on Pinterest that turns out to be the same cheese fondue recipe served at The Melting Pot.
Here's the recipe and instructions:
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 C. dry white wine
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 2 C. Swiss cheese, shredded
- 2 C. Gruyere cheese, shredded *note you can find the Swiss and Gruyere combined AND shredded at Trader Joe's
- 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
- A pinch of nutmeg
Abide by fondue pot heating instructions - over medium-high heat, simmer the garlic, wine, and lemon juice. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the cheeses, and blend well until melted. Add mustard and nutmeg. Keep warm in fondue pot. Dip assorted breads, meats, and veggies in the cheese.
* I had to refill the fondue pot to make another batch to account for all guests. When you do this, instead of cooking on top of the old fondue in your pot, fully clean/wash out your fondue pot and start from scratch to ensure your fondue tastes fresh.
Rule of thumb: start cooking the fondue as guests arrive to ensure it tastes fresh, otherwise, you can start cooking about 10 minutes before guests arrive, just make sure you keep the pot simmering to keep the fondue warm.
I rely on Trader Joe's for my meal prepping needs, they really do have it all. For my fondue dippers I purchased a french baguette, two bags of mixed broccoli and cauliflower, red wine soaked salami and granny smith apples. I wanted to supply a wide enough range of dipping options for my guests that would also compliment the cheese. Each guest had their own color-coded fondue fork to make dipping that much easier.
For those that wanted to snack on more than just fondue, I offered a charcuterie and cheese platter with some of my favorite items. For cheese, I had a display of manchego, gouda and brie. I even used toothpick labels to call-out what different cheeses were on display. It was also a chance for me to put my new marble and gold Target cheese knives to use!
For meats, I offered dried coppa, salami and prosciutto. I also had rosemary and olive oil crackers, red grapes, cherry tomatoes and pear slices on display. To display the appetizers, I used my marble tray from Target, a wooden cutting board (that I like to use more for food display) from Crate and Barrel and a few small and large bowls for loose items like the tomatoes and grapes. Have fun playing around with the display of your cheese and charcuterie platters -- after all, more people will consume the food if it looks appetizing! Also remember, you can add more food throughout the party, so don't feel like you have to throw everything onto a plate.
I wanted to provide a variety since I know my friends beverage preferences are all over the map. Wine and beer tend to compliment cheese very well so I offered a couple of red and white wine options. I also offered beer and sparkling flavored water for those that weren't feeling wine. It's always best to provide options for guests when it comes to beverages so they can pick and choose what they want to have.
Setup and prep.
Being in a smaller apartment, it can be challenging to find room to host everyone and have a display of food/beverages for guests to easily access. Luckily, I was able to transform my living room coffee table into a "bar cart" to feature all of the beverages and bar utensils. My living room has seating around the table so it works well for making this a social space. I kept glassware in the kitchen to avoid breakage on the coffee table.
For food, I wanted to keep the fondue pot (which can sometimes get fairly messy during use) on the stovetop, so I created a buffet style setup with the beautiful Harlow & Grey plates, napkins, wooden forks and knives. I highly recommend using paper plates and throwaway utensils to reduce clean up time! I kept the dippers for the fondue next to the fondue area to make it easier for guests. I arranged the rest of the appetizers (luckily they all fit!) on my glass kitchen table which ended up working out great for guests to socialize and eat.
Remember, no gathering is a success without a good playlist, I hooked up my laptop in the living room and played a Spotify playlist -- never underestimate music when you're hosting!
After we were filled up with fondue and liquid courage, we ventured off to our painting class and had so much fun! I'd highly recommend attending a CANVAS class for a date night or something to do as a group. No matter what your skill level is, it's pretty easy to follow along and at the end of the day, you get to create a masterpiece to feature in your home! And hey, if your painting doesn't turn out, you can just blame it on the alcohol.
A huge S/O to my amazing friends for attending my little get together at home and a night out painting. I can't wait for our next one!