Dinner parties are great fun. You spend the night with close friends, there’s plenty of good food and alcohol on offer, and unlike a house party, you get to sit down throughout! It’s a relaxing way to spend your time, especially as a guest, and as a host, it’s one of the easiest (read: cheapest) kinds of parties you could ever plan.
But in that moment, it doesn’t quite feel that way, does it? You’re cooking in a rush, you’ve got about 6 people about to come through the door and the table isn’t even set! You haven’t started making drinks yet either, and you’re not sure about the quality of your decorations – all in all, it’s quite a stress!
However, it’s best to remember that dinner parties are what you make them. If you follow a recipe you can make some excellent food with very little skill, and you can always ask your guests to bring a dish with them. As for everything else, we’ve got some tips below that’ll help you to put on the ultimate dinner party and impress everyone you’ve invited.
Pick a Theme and Stick to It
If you want to theme your dinner party, make sure that you stick to this choice all throughout your decorating efforts. If you chop, change, and hang up things that don’t quite fit, they’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
You should try to go for a cohesive theme here that has a lot of of possibilities, like a Roaring 20s setup or a Nautical idea with plenty of items to invoke the feeling of being on the coast.
And if you can’t find much else to decorate with, try to get a balloon arch to put up – they always look good. Plus, handmade items will work just fine! Go online to watch a few tutorials, unscrew the paint caps, and get to work.
Your Seating Plan Needs Some Careful Thought
A seating plan is made to ensure people talk to each other; that means ensuring couples are near each other but not directly next to each other, and anyone who doesn’t know the others is next to the most gregarious of all the invitees.
And because you want to encourage as much conversation as possible, double-check that people who don’t get on too well are seated away from each other… But before you finalize the whole thing, check with all the guests to see if they’re comfortable being sat where you’re planning.
Start Cooking Well Before Guests Arrive
If you start cooking hours in advance, you give yourself plenty of time to get the dishes together, meaning you can make as many mistakes as possible. If the terrine falls apart, or the roux doesn’t come together, or the fish burns and there’s no other meat left in the fridge, you’ll have a chance to fix it all. Keep the food covered and warm under a low heat if need be, but you can always warm things up again once the guests arrive and ready to eat.
Serve Up Some Professional Looking Mocktails
Cocktails are always impressive for those who drink alcohol. They’re packed with both alcohol and flavor, and they’re super easy to whip up once you’ve got a proper shaker to use – it’s true! But, like me there are people who don’t enjoy or wish not to partake in alcohol. Learn to whip up a signature mocktail drink for the dinner party that doesn’t make anyone feel left out. It’s easy to substitute the ingredients from a popular drink and mock it. Pick a name of a cocktail you’ve enjoyed in the past, run through the list of ingredients, then make it with a booze free version so everyone can enjoy.
Of course, you might also have to look into how to make clear ice to ensure you get the right look, but then you just need a fancy glass to pour it into. You can pick up a case of these at any store with a ‘Home’ aisle.
You may also want to salt the rim and add a cute mini umbrella or olive stick, but you won’t exactly have to practice to get those right! In fact you can leave the mocktail mixing until a couple of minutes before people arrive, so no stress here at all.
Fold Your Napkins Just Right
Another part of the decorating, setting the table well is key here. That means you’re going to have to learn how to fold napkins – yes, even into shapes you didn’t think should be possible! Thankfully, once again there are step by step tutorials online, but you can also just invest in napkins that are designed with sparkly patterns and simply tie a ribbon around them. That’s easy and simple and won’t take much longer than 10 minutes to get through.
Schedule an Activity for After The Meal
No dinner party is complete with something fun to do once everyone is done eating. Get on this before you even think about the food you’re going to serve – it might take some time to set up! If you want to book someone for a big dinner party or you simply want to have time to clear the table away to set up a dance floor, this is your chance to prepare properly.
Of course, you could also go the age-old route of playing a murder mystery game. This is especially good if there are some wannabe-sleuths amongst your guests, but it’ll be fun for anyone who’s been invited. You can also plug in a karaoke machine and let everyone have a go, no matter how bad a singer they are.
But all in all, just put something fun on. Think about the people your guests are and what they’d enjoy, and align your idea with it. It doesn’t matter how ‘silly’ it might feel – design an activity around it.
The ultimate dinner party is one you feel stress-free and content in. Follow the tips above to serve up good food and drinks as well as a totally good time too! Get your guest list sorted, start cooking early, and never splurge too much on the fancy items – cheaper varieties will also taste amazing!
How do you go about throwing your dinner parties? Do you have any sage advice to share from your experience? Please share!
Until our next rendezvous…