Let's go with a simple meal: soup, main, dessert. And let's plan to have as much as possible done in advance so you can spend time with your guests instead of in the kitchen.
So let's talk soup. Pick something easy that focuses on one ingredient and can be made in the morning and kept warm on the stovetop. Ladle into bowls and hit with a swirl of sour cream or a drizzle of olive oil, to serve.
For a main course, do an all-in-one dish.
- Roast Chicken Dinner with Roasted Garlic Gravy
- Roast Chicken with Herbed Mushrooms
- Roast Chicken With Spring Vegetables
Or short ribs (these are even better if they're made the day before and just need to be dished up to serve. Only caveat here is that you might want to make some mashed potatoes as well, but those can be kept warm on the stovetop, too).
For dessert, go with something like a crumble, which can be assembled in advance and popped into the oven just as you're starting the main course. Scoop into bowls and top with store-bought ice cream to serve.
- Blueberry Crumble With Cornmeal-Almond Topping
- Cranberry Almond Crumble
- Peach and Strawberry Crumble
Bonus course: A post-dessert cheese course is super-fancy, and all you need is a quick stop at the store to make it happen: How to Set Up a Cheese Plate
For drinks, keep it simple with one or two types of wine, or enlist a guest to bring premixed pitchers of cocktails.