Delicious food, good wine and close friends: these are what make dinner parties appealing. These events are not restricted to more formal events, though; you and your friends can enjoy a more casual, fun affair.
Hosting a dinner party, however, comes with its own set of challenges – even if it is a more low-key event. You have to juggle between entertaining your guests and making sure the preparation of your next dish goes smoothly.
Here’s a helpful guide to hosting a dinner party your guests will enjoy and remember, from crafting a menu to ensuring that the night is stress-free and enjoyable.
A dinner party is successful when it is strategically planned. Whether you’re planning a casual dinner or a fancier and more stylish gathering, know your strong points and consider how to properly optimise your available resources.
It’s recommended to schedule the dinner party towards the end of the week so that you more time to plan. Friday or Saturday night works well for your guests, as they are more relaxed and can stay late since it’s a weekend the next day.
Creating the menu
Before planning the menu, know if your guests have allergies or dietary restrictions. This saves them – and you – from potential awkwardness at the dinner party.
While it’s tempting to cook a dish with that “wow!” factor, unless you’re trained to do so, it could pull you away from your guests and could prove more trouble than it’s worth. Opt for family-sized platters and one-pot meals that are easy to make. Add plenty of sides such as breadsticks and cured meats to keep your guests entertained as they wait for the next course.
Crafting the guest list
Invite groups of friends who are within your close circle and are comfortable hanging out with each other. Feel free to invite new people, but make sure they’re properly introduced and have something in common with other guests to avoid an uncomfortable evening.
Be aware of the number of guests you can comfortably fit in your space. Buy foldable seats if you have enough space but limited furniture. If you have a small space, move your dinner party to the living room for guests to lounge on a suitable sofa as they eat and chat.
Preparing as early as you need to
It’s proper etiquette in the United Kingdom to arrive on time to a dinner party, and you want to make sure you’re not running stressed during the last half hour before your guests arrive.
On the day of the party, double-check if you have enough ingredients, cutlery, napkins, plates and wine glasses. Start preparing the ingredients and cooking the food an hour or two in advance. If possible, pre-prep the day before by chopping vegetables, marinating the meat and creating the salad dressings. That will give you more time to organise your home before the guests arrive.
Setting the atmosphere with décor
It doesn’t take much budget to transform your dining space into a simple, relaxing and welcoming area. If you have enough time, refresh and revitalise your dining and living room so that your diners feel comfortable and relaxed. Ensure everyone has enough space to move around and that the seating is adequate.
You don’t need new dinnerware to create a chic setting. Start with pieces you already own and embellish them with colourful napkin rings and other details. Use a monochromatic colour palette to create a classy and inviting atmosphere. Dress up your table by placing fresh flowers and candles.
Despite the strategic planning, it’s normal that things don’t go exactly according to plan. When this happens, take things in stride. When you’re relaxed, your guests will be happy and relaxed as well. Once you’re all set, sit back and have fun at your dinner party.