Hosting your first dinner party is an indisputable sign that you’re a grownup. The combination of good food and drink, wonderful company, stimulating conversation, and the satisfaction of a successful event make the dinner party one of the best ways to socialize and impress guests.
But they are complicated to pull off. There is so much involved in the planning of a dinner party that it can be overwhelming. You have to cook at least three different courses to perfection, pick the right wine to match, cater to dietary requirements and, crucially, make sure everyone has fun.
To ensure your gathering goes off without a hitch, here are five tips to help you throw the perfect dinner party.
Create a plan
To pull off your first dinner party, planning is essential. Don’t leave everything until the last minute. Create a timeline of the actions you need to take beforehand, on the day, and after the event. This will help you organize your efforts and prioritize tasks. The planning stage will be taken up with invitations, menu planning, and sourcing ingredients and supplies. Closer to the day, you will need to check in with guests, start preparing dishes, and get last-minute ingredients. This will help to make the day of the party as efficient and hassle-free as possible.
Invite the right people
It’s the people that make a dinner party, not the food. You want to be strategic about who you invite to ensure that everyone enjoys their evening. Don’t go too large on your first try. Just stick to close friends and immediate family until you have perfected it. If inviting a mix of people, try to sit people next to someone they don’t know to spark conversation and prevent cliques from forming.
Prepare your menu early
The food you choose to prepare depends on the style of dinner party you want to throw. You might be going for an elaborate fancy meal, or you might want a more casual dining atmosphere. It doesn’t matter whether you serve lobster and champagne, your favorite lasagna rolls recipe, or a vegan buffet. Just make sure you check your guests’ dietary requirements and dislikes to make sure no one leaves hungry. Prepare as much as you can before the day of the dinner party. Don’t leave your shopping until that morning, as you want to leave as much time as possible in case something goes wrong.
Create an atmosphere
A good dinner party is all about the atmosphere. No matter how delicious your food is, you need to create the right mood for your guests to loosen up and have a good time. Set the table and decorate the room according to your style, pick some appropriate music, and even plan some pre- or post-dinner entertainment to get everyone laughing.
Be a good host
Throwing a dinner party can be stressful, but you do not want to be spending all your time fretting in the kitchen and neglecting your guests. By doing the majority of your preparation in advance, it will be more or less ready to go once your guests sit down to eat, so you can spend more time chatting and make sure everyone’s glass is full. You need to be ready to take charge of the conversation if it falters and make sure guests who don’t know anyone don’t feel uncomfortable. It’s your night, and you are in control of how well it goes.