Hosting a dinner party is a very elegant and sophisticated way to get a group of friends together for an evening of good company and conversation. However, when hosting a dinner party, it is common for the host to feel overwhelmed at some point during either the planning stages or the preparation process. Here are a few tips to help you smoothly and calmly plan the perfect dinner party without getting frustrated.
Have a well laid out plan
Planning is key when hosting a dinner party. The moment you decide to have a dinner party is the moment you should start planning the particulars, and you should list everything in writing so that you don’t forget. Things to plan ahead of time include the theme if you are going to have one, the menu, the drinks to be served, the groceries you need to buy if you are preparing the food yourself, the guest list, the invitations or how you will inform your guests of the party, and possibly the type of place settings you want to choose. You can never be too over prepared to host a dinner party because the more you plan the less likely you are to encounter a crisis at the last minute.
Prepare as much food as you can ahead of time
The more you are able to do ahead of time, the more you will be able to relax in the moments leading up to your guests’ arrival. Often times when people hosts dinner parties, they are still scrambling in the kitchen as their partners open the door to greet the guests. The longer wait you wait to cook certain foods, the more pressure you will be under as the party approaches. The best thing to do is to prepare almost everything early on during the day and to keep it warm in the oven as your guests arrive. By doing this you will have the peace of mind that everything is already prepared and ready to serve whenever your guests are ready.
Do not experiment with the menu
It is understandable that you might want to show your guests how wonderful of a chef you are by trying out a new recipe you came across a few days before he party, but this could lead to disastrous consequences. A dinner party is not the right time to try something new with food. It could be very embarrassing to find out 30 minutes before your guests arrive that you have been cooking the ham at the wrong temperature for the past one hour and it is still frozen in the middle, or that the recipe called for salmon fillet and you mistakenly used salmon steaks. If you have not made this recipe before, don’t let the day of your dinner party be the first time.
Create a playlist
Background music can really set the mood of your dinner party and can liven the atmosphere. Whether it is Pandora, your iTunes playlist, or a mixed cd, be sure to provide some music in order to set the scene. Soft jazz is always a good choice for music because it is calm and soothing and sets the tone for a relaxed environment. However, make sure that the music is not too loud. Your guests should not have to shout in order to hear each other, especially at the dinner table. The music should play at a soft and low volume so that everyone can hear it but can still also hear themselves think.
Don’t forget about the minute details
The small details are sometimes very important. For example, ice is one of the few party items that is most often forgotten. Be sure to get some and to have enough. Also, use tablecloths instead of regular napkins. Your dinner party is supposed to be a classy event, and your table setting should reflect that. Also, the seating arrangement at a dinner party can sometimes be very important. If you are expecting more than 6-8 guests consider making place cards to avoid the awkward moment when everyone is trying to decide who should sit where and next to whom.
Dessert is always a nice ending to a great meal. Your dessert doesn’t have to be over the top, but a little something would be nice. It can be a fruit tart, a slice of pie with some ice cream, cake with coffee or tea, or homemade parfait. Chances are your guests are not expecting anything grand for dessert, especially after you cooked the entire dinner meal, but something sweet after dinner is appropriate. Planning the dessert should be just as fun as planning the meal itself because there are so many options to choose from.
Start cleaning up early
You might be exhausted after the party, but everything will look twice as messy the next morning. You might not clean up the entire area, but choose at least one aspect to clean. Whether it is dishes, cleaning the stove, or clearing the dinner table, start cleaning that night.
Planning a dinner party can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the process and to have fun as well.