Hosting a dinner party can feel overwhelming, especially in Muskoka, where the more remote setting brings both challenges and opportunities to create an unforgettable experience. Here are our top 7 tips and things to keep in mind for hosting successful dinner parties in Muskoka.
1. Arrival & Parking
Given the absence of Uber in Muskoka, guests will need to drive or boat to your cottage. To streamline their arrival, inquire beforehand about their mode of transportation and ensure ample docking space for their boats. If space is limited, consider relocating your own boat to accommodate your guests. Guide them regarding any navigational hazards they should know before their arrival. Being present at the dock to welcome and assist them in docking can set a warm tone for the evening.
2. Beverage Selection
As a gracious host, cater to your guests’ preferences by stocking up on both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Begin with a refreshing cocktail, such as an Aperol Spritz or a customized signature drink. Garnish the cocktails thoughtfully for an appealing presentation. However, ensure responsible drinking by arranging for designated drivers or offering a guest room for those who may need to stay over.
3. The Gathering Spot
Take advantage of Muskoka in the summertime by initiating the gathering outdoors, whether it’s at the boathouse, on the dock, or the cottage deck. Consider the spot with the best view for a mesmerizing sunset experience. If your cottage doesn’t offer sunset views, treat your guest with a sunset cruise.
4. The Menu
Start the evening with crowd-pleasing hors d’oeuvres like a charcuterie board or unique options like crostinis or guacamole—easy-to-eat choices that also look enticing. For the main course, provide a variety of options, such as salmon/chicken or pickerel/steak, accompanied by sides like a fresh summer salad and corn on the cob, all prepared with seasonal and fresh ingredients. Opt for desserts from local bakeries for a fresh and flavorful finish. Don’t forget to have alternative options available for any younger guests or picky eaters.
5. Setting the Mood
Craft the perfect atmosphere by dimming the lights and scattering candles throughout the space. Curate a playlist that suits the mood, whether it’s nostalgic 70s rock or sophisticated jazz.
6. The Dining Experience
Unless equipped with outdoor heating or on a warm evening, plan to transition indoors for dinner. Set the table in advance with all table accessories—placemats, charger plates, fabric napkins—and embellish it with a captivating centerpiece featuring fresh flowers and candles. Conclude the night in the great room, possibly with a fire crackling in the fireplace and music playing in the background.
7. The Next Morning
The following day, extend gratitude to your guests for joining. Share captured moments from the evening by sending them memorable photos. Because you all had such a wonderful time, start planning for the next get-together!