Hosting a dinner party. It can sound like a daunting undertaking. While it can be daunting, it can also be a really fun way to spend the evening with your friends and family! A dinner party is essentially a fancier version of having people over for dinner. You dress a little nicer, you offer hor d'oeuvres with wine that maybe isn't from a box, and you bring out the good plates. There is quite a bit of planning involved in hosting a successful dinner party, though. If you don't cover your bases, the night could end with a burnt entrée and hungry, unhappy guests. It doesn't have to be stressful though! We've put together all the essentials you need to ensure a successful, fun dinner party that will keep your guests waiting for the next invitation.
We mean it. A dinner party isn't something you can throw together at the last minute. To host a true dinner party, you need a few weeks to get everything ready. The first thing you'll need to do is sort out the guest list. Obviously you know your space best, so you know how many people can comfortably fit in your home. If you really want to invite a lot of people, you could rent a tent for your backyard, or if the weather agrees just host the entire party outside! Just know that also means cooking for that many people, unless you pay someone to cater the food. You should give your guests at least two weeks notice once you decide who will be coming. That also gives you a chance to decide the theme, figure out the menu, and all the other fine details. Double and triple check your ingredients list the week of, and go to the store a day or two before the big event to gather everything you'll need. You should also write out a timeframe for how long/when whatever you're cooking will be ready so your guests aren't waiting an hour to eat. Don't forget about the “party” part either! Have a nice playlist ready to go, offer talking points or games, and give plenty of time for guests to enjoy themselves and the meal you've prepared.
Bestie, this is not the time to act like you're hosting a show on Food Network. Unless you make five-star dishes regularly or are a literal chef, stick to what you know you can cook well for your dinner party. Trying something new or extravagant will only add more stress to your already full plate! If you really want to try something new, do a few test runs with the recipe before you add it to the menu. Our advice? Stick with something simple that doesn't take too much of your direct attention. Roast chicken with vegetables or a nice pasta and salad combo can leave anyone impressed when they're done well! You'll likely have some before dinner cocktails and snacks and offer a dessert after, so you don't have to give your guests three different side choices with their entrée. We promise keeping it simple will save you time and stress, and everyone will be satisfied!
No matter how much you prepare, there's always the chance something can go wrong when you host an event. The good news is, you're likely only inviting people you know and like to your party! They'll understand if the food is a little late, and they don't expect your house to be magazine ready. Don't get so hung up on the details that you forget to enjoy your own party. You also don't have to do it all by yourself. If someone wants to help clean up, let them! If you don't have fine china and charger plates, you can still have a beautiful table with delicious food and good company. A few candles and a fresh bouquet from the grocery store can go a long way in setting the mood for your dinner.
Dinner parties don't have to be over the top! They just require a little more planning and likely a few more courses than a regular get together with your friends. How fancy the night is truly depends on you! If you follow these guidelines, though, a dinner party of any scale is sure to be a hit.