Hosting a dinner party can be stressful. The guest list, cleaning up, planning the meal, and not to mention preparing the food. That said, it can be a lot of fun, and it’s a good chance for friends or family to get together in fellowship. If you’re the host, it might be because you’re a homebody, you get to control the guest list, or you just want an excuse to show off your home. Whatever your reason, it can be a snap with these tips for hosting a fantastic dinner party.
A dinner party should be intimate. That means a group of 4 to 6, and sometimes up to 8. If you have fewer people, there will be too much side talking and noise that it will start to feel like a regular party rather than a dinner party. You can invite some close couples, a group of singles, or whoever you want. Just make sure that the guests are likely to enjoy a dinner party and are compatible. With an intimate setting, there is nowhere to hide for people who don’t get along. An awkward dining experience is not what you are looking for.
Choose a Theme
A theme for a dinner party is optional. You may just want to show off a new apartment or celebrate someone’s birthday. However, you can have a theme if you choose. People will often choose a theme based on the food they are serving. For example, if you are barbecuing, then you can have extra barbecue accessories in the decor and table settings. Whatever your theme is, make it fun, but don’t overdo it. The highlight of the evening should be the food that is provided.
Have a Cocktail Hour
Have you ever hosted a dinner party and the guests show up, but the food’s not ready? You were delayed during the day, and now you’re scrambling to catch up. Or, maybe it was ready sooner than you’d planned, and it wasn’t in perfect serving condition by the time the guests showed up. You can eliminate this by having a cocktail hour. Offer some drinks and finger foods for your guests while the food finishes cooking or you finish preparing. It’s a good time for people to meet or catch up, and they can get a drink or two before dinner. A charcuterie board is a good option. Try to have a mix of cheeses and crackers, and have some salami or prosciutto available. Some grapes or another fruit is a great way to top it off.
Don’t Try New Things
There can be a temptation to try an exciting new dish for your dinner party, but that’s not a good idea. Any number of things can go wrong, and you’ll be stuck ordering pizza. If you want to try a new dish, cook it a few days before to test it out. That way, you’ll be able to know if it tasted good and make any tweaks to the recipe. Going with a completely new recipe is asking for trouble.
Set the Table
If it’s an informal affair, you can serve your food with the tableware and utensils you use daily. However, you may want to get a little fancy or creative if it’s something more upscale or you have a theme. For instance, you can have decorative bamboo skewers, plates with graphics or designs, or cutlery that has a little more class than you would usually eat with. Setting the table with appropriate tableware will set the tone for the evening and add something a little extra to your event.
You don’t want to be juggling too many things when your guests arrive. It’s always a good idea to do whatever you can ahead of time. That means making a pie crust, marinating the meat, or making your tomato sauce, as just a few examples. Always wash your dishes right away because they will pile up during the day, and then you’ll have to do them as well as the guests’ dishes. The key is to make it as stress-free as possible on the day of the party.
Unless you are planning on dancing while eating, the music should be understated and subtle. Some light jazz or classical music is always appropriate. Make sure the volume is low, so you can easily talk and socialize. You may want music that matches a theme, and that’s okay if it complements and doesn’t overpower.
Dressing for a dinner party at your home always presents a problem. For one, you obviously want to look your best and wear your nicest outfit along with your most uncomfortable shoes. At home is a great place to wear these things. However, you also have to prepare and serve food and do the dishes as well. Try wearing a short-sleeved dress, but wear an apron over it. As for your shoes, have slippers on in the kitchen and your heels ready to slip on when you head into the dining area.
Once the meal is over, make sure to have some games for your guests to play. They will want to settle their stomachs before dessert, so give them something to do. Pictionary is a classic option, as are charades. You can also play a game like Taboo or Codenames. The sky is really the limit here, but try to do something that’s easy to learn and fun to play.
Hosting a great dinner party doesn’t have to be hard. All you need is some planning and preparation, and to follow these tips, and you’ll host a party that everyone will love.