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The practical guide to hosting a dinner party

Dinner Party Hors dOeuvres

Hosting a dinner party is probably one of the best ways to create a special connection with people in your life and to grow your network. If you are not a whiz in the kitchen or if you don’t have much experience as a host, the idea of hosting a dinner might seem quite scary. But at the end of the day, a successful dinner party is not much more than a combination of certain simple ingredients that need to be taken good care of. Here are a few tips that will make the process of preparation hassle and stress-free so you can concentrate on the important part – spending quality time with your guests.

Dinner Party Hors dOeuvres

Guests

One of the best things about hosting a dinner is that you choose who will attend. While it’s a huge advantage, it also comes with some expectations from you.

  • The first thing to decide: how many people are you going to invite? Here take into account if your place is spacious enough to make your guests feel comfortable. If you have never hosted a dinner before, it’s better not to invite too many people, four to six guests should be just fine.
  • Think of a sitting plan to ensure your guests have engaging conversations and enjoy the company of each other.
  • Invite your guests, at least 2 weeks in advance. Get in touch with everyone once again a few days before the event itself to confirm they are coming.

How to organise

Prepare

Seat at a dinner table

When you have your guest list ready, it’s time to move on with further steps of creating a top-notch experience. A lot of planning needs to be done. What will the timeline be? It’s not only about the food, but it’s also the whole party’s time management.

Tips for a novice host:

  • Your first guests are very likely to arrive earlier than you expected, so think of something to keep them entertained while you are waiting for others to arrive.
  • Check beforehand if you have enough plates for all the courses and get a good corkscrew if you don’t have one yet.
  • Don’t forget to give your place a good clean and take out the trash.
  • Shop in advance for food that can be stored, like some specific spices or a sauce, so that you won’t need to be rushing around looking for them last minute.
  • If you insist on taking the shoes off when visiting your place, get the required number of slippers, like the ones in hotels, for your guests.

Atmosphere

Brainstorm ideas for the aesthetics you aim to achieve well before the dinner itself. You might need to purchase some items for decoration, so make sure you have sufficient time for that. Pay special attention to how you want to set the table, as it will be the focal point of the evening. Fresh flowers are a great idea for adding an elegant note to the decoration. Music and lighting will set the tone for the evening, so pick them wisely.

Oh, and don’t forget about toasts, they might seem old-fashioned, but it’s a good way to set everything going and to thank your guests.

Keep everyone entertained

Greet your guests at the door and spend some time with each and every one of them. All in all, your dinner party is in many aspects about you making your friends and family feel good. Think of possible activities for the evening, like a board game, karaoke or anything else your guests would enjoy doing. You can even prepare small gifts so that your guests can take back home with them a memory of a wonderful evening.

Menu

  • Find out if your guests have food allergies or some specific dietary requirements. You don’t want anyone to leave hungry and dissatisfied.
  • Prep as much as you can.
  • Don’t forget to fill up the ice-trays.
  • If someone wants to give you a hand, welcome it.

Planning the Menu

Picnic potluck

If your cooking skills are something you’d like to show off when inviting your friends over to your place, focusing on food is the right decision. Whether you are an experienced cook or not, the most important rule is not to cook meals you haven’t tried before, if you don’t want any surprises on the day you are having people over. And please, don’t overthink the food. You don’t need any stress while cooking, and struggling with a complicated menu has a high chance of becoming a disaster. A great option is trying recipes that are easy, but look impressive.

In any case it is better to “rehearse” beforehand and ask for feedback from your closest friends or family. When rehearsing write down the order of the tasks that need to be done and how long they take, so that you are sure of how much time you will have to invest in cooking on the day of the dinner itself.

Make sure cooking doesn’t keep you in the kitchen throughout the evening. Doing everything the recipe lets you in advance is a great idea. For example, there are wonderful prepare-ahead dessert recipes that can easily prevent last-minute panic.

But what if cooking isn’t your area of strength at all? Well, there needs to be food at a dinner table anyway. Yet you can always choose not to put too much pressure on yourself. Go for small bites: tapas, crostinis, bruschettas, cheeses and fruits. Still, if you really want to impress your guests there is always an option of hiring a chef and enjoying your evening to the fullest; for an extra price tag, of course.

Alcohol

As for alcohol, having suitable wine is recommended – a nice wine and a food pairing chart can help you. You also can get beer or liquor, but it doesn’t mean that you have to guess each guest’s preferences. If anyone asks you what to bring with them, always say “alcohol”. It can solve the problem, as people tend to pick what they personally like.

Enjoy a good time with your guests!

Following these simple tips will ensure your home dinner party will be a great experience for you and your guests. Though it can seem overwhelming at first, with a bit of practice you’ll become an expert very fast. Not only will you leverage the benefits of a healthy home-cooked food but you will also get closer with your friends and family through quality time together. And don’t forget, the main reason to host a dinner is to have a good time!

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