Last week I held a rainbow themed dinner party. I do a big fancy dinner party once a year and I’ve already shared my secrets and timing tips, but I also have to share my crazy themes. Last year I did Disney and we ate Bambi’s mom. This year I originally wanted to do a safe, simple Italian theme, but you know what happened? Everyone I planned to invite started talking about how Italian they are and I got scared. Back to the drawing board! Rainbows seem pretty in fashion, at least for kids, so I decided to class it up a little bit and have each course be a different color.
Of course, I’m particular, so I had to do the rainbow in order with the same order I always do my meal, but if you get inspired by this perhaps you can switch it up a little. I had one other rule for myself: no food coloring. Why? I don’t know. I just didn’t think it would be elevated enough if I was dyeing things left and right. There is one exception, but it’s dessert, and food coloring seem okay there, right? Also, I added some copycat Outback Steakhouse bread for a nice, deep brown color. Apparently rainbow bread is a real thing, but… ick.
Rainbow Themed Dinner Party Ideas
My rainbow themed dinner party decor is really simple. I made this reversible table runner a couple of weeks ago specifically for the party. I thought I was going to put it on the black side, but it turned out I liked black and white better. Who knew? Since this is an adult dinner party, there weren’t rainbows everywhere. I don’t do cheesy decor. Instead, I added simple vases full of food-colored water and a tea light down the table runner. Pretty classic. Another variation, one I wound up not having time for, would be to have a flower of each color in the vases. I did have a rainbow bouquet; it had to stay on the appetizer table though. Oh, and I like to make fancy napkin pockets like this. That’s about it.
Appetizers (Red & Orange)
The names of the dishes are links to recipes, if I used one, FYI. This was a hit because so many people thought it was going to be tomato bruschetta and got a fun surprise. I did use marscapone instead of goat cheese, just so people didn’t get too goat cheesed out. I try to do as much make-ahead food as I can, but I didn’t even try with the appetizers. They’re the first thing eaten, but the last thing I cook.
Wine Pairing: Sparkling Pink Wine
Okay, so that link is going to go to red peppers, but orange peppers worked just as well for the purpose of this rainbow themed dinner party. We kept the rest of the ingredients the same, but I did cook them in the oven to save the hassle of oil right before guests arrived.
Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc
I did change this recipe up slightly, in the sense that I in no way paid any attention to the recipe. Instead I put my own favorite rainbow colored fruits and vegetables (kiwi, anyone?) inside. I did follow the sauce for the most part, which is why I’m linking this recipe in particular even though I didn’t even do the main part of it, with one exception. Siracha is way too hot to start a meal with, so I did chili garlic sauce instead.
Here’s one I came up with myself. Well, kind of. I borrowed the base. FYI, I cut up all the veggies for everything early in the day and bagged all the squash ingredients. You can’t make this dressing ahead though; it will turn solid if you leave it in the fridge too long.
Wine Pairing: Beaujolais or Pinot Gris
Let me tell you, it took me sooooo many tries to find a delicious green soup. I almost switched the soup and salad order just to avoid this. Then I planned on my fallback, asparagus soup, but I’d already done that one at my spring themed dinner party. I tried this one the week before the party and it was great! I added pine nuts and olive oil for garnish. It can be served hot or cold, but I’ve found most people prefer hot soups so that’s what I did. I made it in the morning and put it in the crockpot before guests arrived to reheat. I do think it lost a little color that way, but it tasted fine.
Wine Pairing: Pinot Gris or Riesling
Side Dish (Blue)
Do you know the main issue with a rainbow themed dinner party when you don’t want to dye food? Most blue foods are actually purple. Look it up. I decided we’d be less literal with this one and blue cheese would have to do. I skipped the mushrooms. Also, pro-tip: You can make risotto ahead!
No messing around with this recipe. The blueberries add a nice vibrant color to the risotto, and it was most people’s favorite dish. It’s important to have a strong entree at any dinner party, I always think. To get this chicken cooked in advanced, I followed a caterer’s tip and seared it in the morning, put it in the fridge in a drip pan for 30 minutes, then plastic wrapped it until cook time. I made the sauce in advance as well and put it all in the oven together.
Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir
For my first time ever making homemade ice cream, I went with lavender. How weird is that? Honestly, it does have a crazy flowery taste, but adding some honey and cinnamon frosting worked well. This is the one area I allowed food coloring as well – lavender ice cream is sadly very white on its own. Everything in this dessert was made the day before, down to scooping the ice cream, so it’s really easy to serve.
Black & White Cocktail
I typically offer wine pairings (that the guests are assigned in advance, if you didn’t read my tips from earlier posts!) with each course, even dessert. But for this rainbow themed dinner party, I really wanted something black and white. I tried a squid ink pasta for an amuse-bouche and it just didn’t turn out. So, I had to add a cocktail. This one’s easy, but a little pricey. We did shave chocolate instead of chocolate sauce to class it up. By we I mean my husband, because this was his one contribution to the meal.
That’s it! This year went much smoother than last year, which isn’t shocking since my husband was home and I wasn’t pregnant, but I honestly was able to do a lot in advance and spend time at the table. That was good, since my husband over-invited and we had 11 guests instead of my usual 8. Speaking of that, we had a ton of toddlers too. It helped a little to put out snacks and toys in one room, but not enough. Next year we’re banning kids. Hope you go out and have a fancy rainbow themed dinner party of your own soon, and tell me how it goes if you do!