Hosting a dinner party can be stressful, to say the least. With so many things to consider: invites, decorations, table settings, menus and more (does it ever end?), it can be all too easy to become entirely overwhelmed and robbed of the joy that comes with celebrating over fine food and drink with friends and loved ones. Thankfully, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you are able to not just host, but also enjoy an amazing dinner party surrounded by amazing people in the comfort of your own home.
Say goodbye to stress with these 10 pro tips that are guaranteed to turn you into the ultimate dinner party host.
- Pick The Perfect Date
A dinner party is the ultimate kitchen dining celebration amongst friends and loved ones, so the last thing you want is for half your guest list to not show up due to pre-existing commitments. This is why picking the perfect date plays such a key role in planning the ultimate dinner party. As a general rule, you want to ensure that your party is flexible and far enough in advance so that all your guests can turn up. We suggest aiming to set your date 4-6 weeks in advance, to allow yourself plenty of time to plan and get organized, as well as to give your guests a chance to sort out their calendars. If you are looking for an easier way to pick a date that suits everyone, you could always look into using a party planning tool or app to make the job easier for you.
- Choose A Theme
One of the more fun aspects of planning for a dinner party is choosing a theme. Your theme could be as simple as chucking a few bouquets of flowers and candles on your table and cabinet for a simple yet elegant evening, or as over the top as a fancy dress party for the ultimate fun night out. We recommend letting your creative juices flow when choosing a theme, and some fun ideas include (but are not limited to):
- A Mexican Fiesta
- Bollywood Night
- A DIY Pizza Party
- Casino Night
- Breakfast For Dinner
- 70s Retro Throwback or
- A Movie-Inspired Night
- Send Out The Invites
Now that you’ve settled on the perfect date and theme for your dinner party, it’s time to send out your invites. This can be as fancy or as simple as you want, so feel free to do what feels most comfortable. Regardless of whether you keep it basic or go all out, be sure to include information such as your address, time of the event, theme, dress code and any other important information that your guests may need. Including an RSVP option is also a great idea to ensure that you know exactly how many people to plan for.
- Curate The Perfect Party Playlist
No dinner party is complete without the perfect music, so curating your perfect dinner party playlist in advance is a great way to ensure that the music never stops on the day of your event. You can choose music in accordance to your theme or simply collate a number of your favourite songs for your guests to enjoy. We recommend creating and saving your playlist on an app such as Spotify or Apple Music which will enable you to get the party started with a mere tap of your screen on the day of. Stress? We don’t know who that is.
- Plan The Ultimate Menu
Now, let’s get started on the main event – the delicious food that you’ll be serving up to your guests. This is one of the most important steps because, this is a dinner party after all. Generally, it is a great idea to prepare and provide a few different options in terms of appetisers, mains, side dishes and desserts, especially if you are expecting a crowd with different tastes. It is also wise to check up with your guests for any dietary requirements or allergies so that you can provide suitable alternatives for all to enjoy. Also, always try to stick to what you know. A dinner party is definitely not the time to be experimenting with new dishes that you haven’t prepared before. If you do want to try something different, we always recommend giving it a trial-run well in advance. Your menu should include:
Appetisers: Winter soups, summer salads, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres etc
Main: Red meat, poultry, fish or vegetarian
Side Dishes: Salads, roasted vegetables, starches and grains
Dessert: Pastries, cakes, ice cream, fruit etc
Looking for more inspiration on dinner party menu ideas? Be sure to check out this helpful article.
- Prepare What You Can In Advance
The last thing you want is to be stressed out or slaving at the stove when your guests arrive, so we always recommend preparing what you can in advance. For example, there are many dishes that you can pre-make and refrigerate or freeze up to 1 month in advance. Many desserts can also be made well in advance, including cakes, pastries, mousses and more. Always consider each course and think about which bits you can do beforehand. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy the company of your guests without having to worry about not getting the food out in time.
- Set The Perfect Table
The day of the party has arrived and it’s time to set the perfect table. If you have opted for a more out of the box theme, your decorations and table setting will need to be a little more elaborate and in line with your chosen theme. Alternatively, if you’ve opted for the more conventional approach, there are still some table setting basics to consider and include:
- Tablecloth, placemats and napkins
- Table centrepiece (flowers, candles, etc)
- Salad and dinner plates
- Soup bowls
- Bread basket
- Drinking glasses
- Wine glasses
- Add Your Finishing Touches
Your table is set, the guests have arrived and it’s now time to serve up your incredible food. Trust us when we say that the finishing touches can truly elevate even the most simple of dishes. For example, a rustic pumpkin soup can be brought to the next level with a delicate garnish of pepitas, olive oil and micro herbs; a plain chocolate cake turns into something out of a french patisserie thanks to a dollop of mascarpone cream and berries; that simple ratatouille made delightful with the help of an inexpensive food ring. These small yet impactful finishing touches are guaranteed to wow your guests and make you look like the next Masterchef champion.
- Keep The Drinks Flowing
If you want to keep your guests happy, make sure they never go thirsty. Whether it is just plain water, wine, beer or even your amazing homemade kombucha, ensuring that you keep the drinks flowing is key to planning and executing a perfect dinner party. You could even channel your inner bartender by putting on an amazing cocktail making show for your guests. The sky’s the limit! Oh, and always make sure you have non-alcoholic options for those who are driving or feel like taking it easy.
- Enjoy A Stress-Free Dinner Party
Now that steps 1-9 are out of the way, it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labour at your stress-free dinner party. Hopefully, you’d have prepared as much as you can beforehand and left yourself enough time to enjoy the awesome night you have planned for your friends and family. Dinner parties are all about letting loose and enjoying the company of one another, so be sure to reward yourself with that extra glass of wine. The dishes can wait till tomorrow.
No matter how small or big, fancy or elaborate your dinner party is, the key to success is all about the preparation and planning stages. We hope that this article has given you a few new ideas on how you can perfectly prepare for any upcoming dinner parties you have planned.
What are some of your favorite dinner party prep tips? Be sure to leave a comment to share your thoughts and ideas!