Having a dinner party with paper plates and plastic cups is okay, but you’re not a little kid anymore. Right? Sometimes you want a gathering that’s just a little bit more sophisticated than Barbeque Shapes and party pies. Whether you want a relaxing evening with close friends or a bit more of a formal affair, here are some simple tips for successfully hosting a dinner party.
Before deciding on a date, picking the theme, or planning your menu, you need to choose who will be coming to dinner. If this is your first time hosting a dinner party, 6 guests would be a good number to start with. As for the guests themselves, it’s best to invite people who are already acquainted with each other rather than friends who’ve never met before.
A dinner party is more intimate than other types of parties, and you don’t want it to be awkward. Or to put even more pressure on you to host AND entertain. Inviting a group of couples usually works well, with maybe one or two outsiders. This keeps things interesting while allowing new bonds to be forged.
When you’re thinking about each course of your dinner party, go with simple recipes you’re confident with and plan your menu accordingly. Unless you’re a seasoned cook, now’s not the best time for experimenting with complicated meals.
In fact, the best option is to hire a chef to come out and take care of everything in the kitchen, from the ingredients to the entire menu, and even cleaning up afterwards. No one wants to spend all day in the kitchen, exhausting themselves attempting to get everything plated up and onto the table when they should be spending some quality time with their guests. And don’t forget to consider the dietary requirements of any vegan or vegetarian guests, as well as any with allergies.
It is the atmosphere that turns a dinner into a dinner party, so there are a few simple things you should always do that makes all the difference. Your tablespace doesn’t need to be really over-the-top, but it honestly should look like you’ve made some effort. Start by decorating your dinner table with some fresh flowers with some nice, cloth napkins. You can keep those ugly paper napkins in the cupboard where they belong.
String up some fairy and modern lights fixture where appropriate and dim your lights to set a subtle mood so your guests can relax. If you decide to light some candles surrounding the room, make sure to avoid scented candles that may clash with inviting food aromas. Oh and even if your food won’t need any, you should always put out some salt and pepper shakers. It’s just courteous.
As the host of the evening, it’s part of your job to anticipate the needs and expectations of your guests. Make sure you attend to everything beforehand, such as cleaning and stocking the bathroom with toilet paper, hand soap, fresh towels, and air freshener. Then act as the welcoming committee as guests start arriving with a quick tour, pointing out where everything is.
Take a moment to chat, introduce other guests, then offer them a drink and some finger food. Make it a priority for you to check in with each guest at least once more before the food comes out. Remember that people tend to create memories from moments rather than just the food, so focus on the small details and everything will simply flow from there.
Just like every other part of life, everything is rarely perfect. You may have planned a sophisticated evening, but one guest had a little too much wine or a couple argued loudly in the bathroom. Again.
Whatever happens, just try to go with the flow as much as possible. And the more dinner parties you throw, the more you’ll get to refine your hosting skills, and the better your parties will ultimately become. At the end of the day, you’ll remember that the goal of any dinner party is to enjoy yourself. As long as you’re having fun hosting, the more likely your guests will be too. And that’s all that matters.