A dinner party can be a really fun way to host your loved ones, show off your cooking skills, or just enjoy an adult’s evening in without the kids. However, hosting a dinner party can be stressful. Make it a stress-free experience with these tips.
Decide When And Who
If you’re not used to hosting dinner parties, four to six guests is a good place to start. If you aren’t used to cooking for a lot of people, more than that will be overwhelming and stressful. Start small and invite close friends, who won’t care if you burn things.
A dinner party is a more intimate affair than a regular party, so invite friends who already know each other, and then add a couple of other people who you feel sure will get on with the other guest. You could also choose to invite a group of couples.
Invite your guests about a month ahead of the date you plan to have the dinner party. Offer a range of possible dates so you can find a date that works for everybody, or least most of the people you want to ask. Three or four weeks in advance is enough time for people to rearrange their schedule if they need to, but so far in advance that they will have forgotten about your dinner party by the time the date rolls around. Friday and Saturdays are usually the best nights to host. Any other night can be difficult to fit around work schedules, or could be less fun when everyone has to worry about getting up for the work in the morning.
Be Strategic With Your Menu Planning
If you want to host a dinner party so you can showcase your culinary skills, then the main focus should of course be on the food. If that isn’t the point of your dinner party, then you still need to serve food, but you don’t need to put as much pressure on yourself to turn out a gourmet feast. You could instead make some simple small bites, serve them as tapas, and have a more relaxing evening.
It’s a good idea to cook meals that you have made before, so you don’t get any nasty surprises on the day. Choose recipes that seem fancy, but are easy to make. If you can, prep your dessert a couple of days before. There are lots of make-ahead desserts that will still wow your guests, but give you one less thing to do on the day.
Try to time your cooking so you’re not stuck in the kitchen all night. The more you can do before your guests arrive, the better, so you can actually enjoy the company of the friends that you invited.
Provide Plenty Of Drinks
There are lots of guides on the internet to help you pair wine with food, or you can head to your local off-licence and ask for some advice on what to offer with your menu.
Have some beer or cider on hand too, and perhaps some liquor, so you have something to offer those who don’t like wine. Make sure you have some non-alcoholic options too, for any guests who are driving or who just don’t want to drink alcohol for any reason.
If your guests offer to bring alcohol, accept their offer. They’re likely to bring something they like, so you have one less thing to worry about when you’re prepping your dinner party.
Prepare In Advance
There are kinds of preparation you need to do before your dinner party; food prep, house prep, and mental prep.
For preparing the food, make a list of the ingredients you will need based on your finalized menu. Give yourself plenty of time for a couple of trips to the store (in case you forget something the first time), and one day for preparing the food. If you know you are going to be busy the week of your dinner party, book a grocery delivery online to save some more time.
Another option to make more time is to send your spouse or roommate to the store to pick supplies, while you clean the house or vice versa.
Don’t forget house prep too. You don’t need to deep clean every room, but make sure that any rooms your guests will be in, like the lounge, kitchen, dining room, and bathroom, are all clean and ready for them. Make the spaces feel inviting with details like a great tablecloth from Richard Haworth.
Take some time to mentally prepare too. You might be stressed, nervous, or just exciting. Whatever you’re feeling, take some time to get calm so you can enjoy your evening.
Set The Mood
A few simple touches can make a lot of difference. Decorate the table with fresh flowers, or set the mood with candles. Dim the lights for a relaxing mood, or hang fairy lights.
Don’t forget the music. Small speakers are ideal, but your laptop will be fine if that’s what you have. Create a playlist, so you can just set put it on and forget about it. Instrumental, classical, or jazz music can all work well, played low in the background. If you know a friend with amazing taste in music, ask them to make the playlist for you.
Clean up right after the party, even if you’re tired. Some of your guests might offer to help with the clean-up, but don’t feel like you need to accept. You invited them over, so prepping, cooking, and clean-up are part of your job as a host.
Gather all the plates, glasses, and anything else from around the house and move them into the kitchen. If it’s already very late, and you don’t have a dishwasher to stack everything in right away, and don’t want to be up until the small hours washing dishes, you can put everything in the sink to soak overnight. Reset your dining room, and make it as easy as you can for yourself in the morning to get everything clean again.
Note: This is a collaborative post