Top Tips for Hosting the Perfect Dinner Party
While summer socializing might be all about finding the best new rooftop bars or trekking down to the beach at sunset, venturing too far away from home becomes less appealing when the temperatures begin to plunge. And while you don’t need winter to come around to give you an excuse, it is the ideal time to plan and host the perfect dinner party for your friends.
It can feel like an intimating task, and you might feel yourself reaching for your nearest vape e juice to calm your nerves. The truth is that following a few simple rules and planning in advance will make it a breeze.
Make a Guest List
Before you start any planning, you need to decide who to invite. It may seem obvious, but getting the right amount of guests is key to setting the best mood on the night. Six is the ideal number of people to have. Four is perfect for an intimate dinner but will feel less like a party. On the other hand, having eight or more guests runs the risk of the entire evening being spent in small breakaway groups having closed conversations.
Naturally, this number is flexible based on your personal preferences and available space size. Additionally, if your guests have yet to meet before the party, make place cards for seating to ensure those you feel will get along are seated next to each other.
Preparing ahead of time will be the best option to avoid any last-minute stress, potential culinary flops, or being rushed. Selecting dishes that can be made in advance and just put in the oven to cook on the day will allow you to spend as much time with your guests while still serving a delicious meal.
The dessert will likely need to be made the day prior in order to set, and snacks served with cocktails can be made the morning of. Setting your table in advance will eliminate a task that could eat up a large portion of your time during the day.
Keep a Balance
When planning a menu, there are two important recommendations to remember—the first is to consider your guests' dietary needs. You would not want to exclude anyone from any part of the meal because they are unable to eat it. Sticking to simple recipes done well will help to avoid any nasty surprises.
Secondly, keep a balance between your dishes. You don’t want too many heavy dishes that will leave everyone feeling uncomfortably full. Additionally, you want dishes that complement each other, with ingredients that are not too repetitive or overwhelming.
Stock the Bar
Whether you are serving wine and beer, cocktails, or non-alcoholic drinks, you want to ensure every guest has a drink option available for their meal. For example, a rich red wine pairs excellently with a hearty meat dish, while fish and chicken with vegetables are nicely complemented with white wine or rosé.
If you are serving cocktails, set up a mini drinks station that allows your guests to refill their own glasses throughout the night. Have three to four standard spirits, additional mixers, various garnishes, and plenty of ice. For something extra-special, create a signature cocktail for the evening. Serve as a drink with snacks to set the tone for the evening.
Set a dress code for your guests to make the evening feel elegant and chic. It does not have to be anything outlandish or over the top, but without the need to walk around or brave the elements of the outdoors, you can get away with wearing that pair of heels that feel unsteadily high or a daring new top you have yet to brave the outdoors with.
It is a fun element that contributes to the evening, and if you suspect you may need a change at some point during the night, bring along an extra pair of shoes or clothes you can easily change into.
Set a Mood
If you want to have a dinner party filled with good music, good moods, and lots of laughter, you need to create an environment that facilitates this. Making your home feel comfortable and inviting will help your guests feel more relaxed and allow conservation to flow easily.
You can achieve this by lighting candles for mood lighting, putting on an appropriate playlist that is not too loud or distracting, and, if it is on the colder side, setting out small knee blankets for anyone who gets cold. Beautiful flowers on the table, along with simple crockery and elegant napkins, will tie things together. Finally, clear wine glasses and water glasses finish off the table decor.
In the chaos of preparation or the stress of the day, you can forgive yourself for forgetting one of the most important things - to relax. Nothing is enjoyable about feeling stressed, and your guests will likely pick up on any negative feelings you might have.
Before anyone arrives, take time to slow down, breathe, and collect yourself. With the proper preparation and the best group of friends, your dinner party will go off without a hitch. Focus on the time spent with those special to you, as this is what most people will remember from the night.