Dinner parties can be a great way to network and bring your friends together. However, if the dinner party isn’t planned correctly, it can be a recipe for disaster. Below are some tips on how to throw a dinner party.
Tip #1: Always come up with a guest list
I know this seems like a dumb tip, but you would be surprised at how many people don’t actually think out their guest list. Remember, just because you like an individual, doesn’t mean everyone else will, so when planning your guest list, remember you always want to have the right mix of people at your event. So try to balance the group of people you invite between old friends and new friends, from different aspects of your life, to ensure the conversation will be varied and stress free.
Tip #2: Decorations, Decorations, Decorations
Look, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on decorations, but adding some fresh flowers and candles can turn any space into a distinctive one. If you do have a little money to spend on decorations, try matching the decorations with the theme of your meal, so for instance, if you are serving a Mediterranean chicken entrée, you could try doing a Mediterranean themed centerpiece like the one below:
Tip #3: Music is a must have
Even though you want your guest to be able to converse amongst themselves, you will still want to have a little music playing in the background to set the mood. Make sure it’s not too loud, you don’t want your guests shouting at each other, and ensure that you organize your music list or your CDs ahead of time. Nothing kills the mood faster than an individual awkwardly stumbling to try to change the music. Also, try to keep the music in sync with your theme.
Tip #4: Everyone likes to play games.
No really they do, and dinner parties are usually no exception. So if you are afraid your guests may not mingle together very well, try incorporating a few ice breakers (maybe during cocktails) to get the party started. But if you have a lively group, trust me, the conversation will be entertainment enough.
Tip #5: Decide what you will serve ahead of time
When you think dinner party, you think dinner right? So make sure that you know what you will be serving your guests ahead of time. Also, make sure you prep everything you can and cook everything that you can ahead of time. The hostess’s job is to host and you can’t do that from the kitchen.
Below is a sample Dinner Party Menu that you can use:
- Appetizers/hors d’oeuvres: Remember to have cocktail napkins, dishes, and serving utensils if you don’t plan on having appetizers or hors d’oeuvres passed around
- Examples: cheese and crackers with grapes or apple slices, olives (don’t forget toothpicks!), pate, smoked salmon with capers and lemon.
- Soup and/or salad course
- Consider a cold soup, like vichyssoise or gazpacho that you can make ahead and simply pull out of the refrigerator and serve.
- A Caesar salad is a classic and easy to make. Salads can be made ahead of time also, just don’t put on the dressing until you are ready to serve.
- A Pan-seared Chicken with Tarragon Butter Sauce is elegant and delicious.
- Dessert course
- To save time, consider buying a dessert, or if you want to make a dessert, try baking an apple pie the night before, and serve with ice cream and whip cream.
- Or make something ahead of time. You can bake an apple pie a day ahead and either serve it cold or warm it up before dessert.
Tip #6: Do not procrastinate
When preparing for a dinner party, it is best not to leave ANY of the shopping until the day before the dinner party, or worse yet the day of the dinner party. It is best to do all of your shopping two days before your dinner party, that way if you happen to forget something, you have plenty of time to run out and get it. Also, you should clean your house the day before the party and do all prep work then. That way the day of your party you can concentrate on cooking. In order to spend more time with your guests, I suggest you start cooking about 3 – 4 hours before the start of the party (depending on how long it takes your entrée to cook).
So, what about you readers? Have you ever thrown a dinner party? What are some of your tips for throwing a dinner party?
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