Dinner parties are almost always a welcomed form of entertainment, but at the same time, they can be difficult to prepare for. While it’s not nearly as stressful as hosting a wedding or large-scale event, it does require some attention to detail and planning so everything comes together perfectly. Here are some helpful tips that will have you prepping your dinner party with ease!
Planning the dinner menu is one of the most important steps when hosting any dinner party. You want to make sure that all your guests enjoy their meals and that there are no allergies or dietary restrictions that will clash with what you prepare. Start by communicating with each guest about any food allergies or preferences they have, which can make it easier to narrow down dishes for them. Make sure to buy foodstuff in bulk. If you plan to cook a lot of bean recipes, buy bulk dried beans to save cost.
If you are planning on serving multiple courses, the main course is typically where your menu will start. You want to make sure that whatever you are cooking does not take too long for guests to wait around before eating, so if you’re having appetizers, entrees with sides certain guests might be allergic to, etc… think of the timeline and how it would work best.
Write it Down
Once you have decided on your dinner menu and everyone has given their input about what they would like at the party (if any), write out an organized version of what you’re making! This may sound silly but when you cook and you get lost along the way, it’s helpful to have it right in front of you. You can always write up a formal menu as well, but unless your guests are extremely special some might not care for this!
If you do end up missing this step, or missing certain dishes off your list when you go shopping, there are creative ways you can find to make those dishes even if you’re missing some ingredients, for example making fried chicken without buttermilk or many recipes without eggs. Whether these substitutes are being made for preference, dietary concerns such as allergies or because you forgot something on your shopping list, you’d be surprised what workarounds are available if you find the right recipe.
The location of your dinner party is important because the decoration and overall atmosphere will contribute to how your party turns out. Choosing the right location is one of the most important aspects of hosting a dinner party. Here are some ideas that can help you pick out where to host your dinner party:
Dining in front of the TV, over coffee at home, or outside on your deck are all great choices for casual parties. This is often when people relax and enjoy each other’s company so keep decor light and simple! Keep things low-key with fresh flowers, candles, and lighting around the house or backyard if any outdoor dinners are served.
If this is an upscale occasion, raise the level of adornment. If the location is in your home you might want to consider renting out another room that you don’t normally keep open. A formal dinner party in the dining room or living room will require not only flowers and candles but also table linens and place settings.
For birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, etc… opt for something with more flair! There are so many ways to make these special occasions memorable even when it comes to where you host them. You can look into venues like restaurants or event spaces, depending on how much of an investment you’re willing to make! Try something fun for special birthdays. Create a gray and black theme for the 40th birthdays. Include gray foods on the menu. Impress guests with the level of thought taken to prepare for the party.
When prepping for your dinner party it is important to be mindful of the guests you have invited. If you are inviting people who don’t know each other well or have not had the chance to meet previously, try to mix up the group. For example, if there are two groups of friends coming together for this dinner, make sure that one doesn’t just connect with the person they came with but has a few conversations with others as well! This way, everyone gets along and feels open enough to celebrate and converse about life’s joys and hardships together.
Once you’ve done all this legwork and decided on a date and time for your dinner party, it’s time to send out those invitations! There are so many options available and there really is just something special about receiving an invitation in the mail. Here are the top invitation ideas:
Have you ever seen an invitation in person that blows you away? This can be your chance to send your guests something that shows how much effort you put into the night. You can always create calligraphy or hand-drawn invitations for special occasions like weddings, birthday parties, engagements, etc… The best part about this is that it’s totally up to you! If drawing isn’t your thing, there are many companies online that offer the service for a small cost. There are also tons of websites with free printables if that’s more your style!
While there’s definitely something to be said about receiving a real invitation in the mail, this is a digital world and sometimes it just makes sense! Digital invitations can easily be sent via Facebook or other social media platforms and lack the extra cost of paper and envelope postage.
If this dinner party is for special occasions like birthdays, engagement parties, etc… consider allocating some funds to make it as memorable as possible. You can always ask those attending what they would like to see done with the money because ultimately you know them best. This will help ensure that everyone is happy and that the night is perfect!
For casual dinners, it’s okay to be a little more low-key. It should still look nice but doesn’t need to be as extravagant as other opportunities. Keep decorations around $10 per guest and you can always make your own centerpieces with fresh flowers from the grocery store or go big and splurge on fresh flowers for each table.
The Table Setting
If this is an upscale dinner, the table setting should reflect that. You can opt for place settings or you can always mix it up and go with a buffet-style set-up! It all depends on how many guests you’re inviting and whether there are two seatings. Here are some table setting rules:
- Candles- One candle per guest is a must. This ensures that everyone will have enough light to see their food and eat comfortably. If you’re planning on using centrepieces with candles, make sure that they are all the same height or smaller than your guests’ arms when seated
- Water glasses- These should be set out on the table already filled before guests arrive. If there isn’t room for them on the table, you can always ask a friend or family member to take care of it while guests arrive
- Napkins-These should be placed flat near the forks and unfolded.
One of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself is to share a great meal with friends and family. This list has hopefully made your next dinner party an unforgettable one! Remember, don’t be afraid to have fun, experiment, and most importantly…enjoy your guests!