Entertaining at home is much easier and cheaper than making all the effort to go somewhere only to be called back after an hour because one of the kids is melting down/has toy soldier up nose/or ‘won’t settle’. Also, I don’t like to take my children out in public. Next best thing? Throwing a fabulous dinner party!
Dinner parties can be a lot of fun – the key to a doozy dinner party that will have all your guests talking is meticulous planning. Follow our planning guide to pull off a night to remember!
If you’re not a list person – you are now. Meticulous planning cannot be done ‘off the top of your head’ nor can it be achieved ‘by the seat of your pants’.
First things first
Decide when the party will be (the date), guest list, and theme. Invite guests to your party early, preferably two or more weeks ahead of time. A Facebook event is technically an invite but thoughtful pretty posted invites are better. This will give them time to RSVP and will give you more time to plan.
The goal of a fabulous dinner party is to entertain and provide comfort to your guests. Think about compatibility, tastes, ages, and the ambience you want to create.
Decide on the Menu
Be realistic about your ‘skills’. If you normally only make beans on toast for tea you’re going to be hopeless attempting anything too flash. Make things easier take away and deli foods are totally acceptable.
Think about your guests and any allergies they may have.
Plan your menu. Tie it to the theme if you can or make it the theme Tapas night or fondue party for example. Try to plan a mix of make-ahead recipes and those that require last minute baking or preparation so you don’t miss all the fun.
Take inventory of your supplies: table and chairs, cutlery, glasses, plates, candlesticks, serving areas, and of course your kitchen. Think about borrowing items you don’t have. Make sure the things you use are sparkling clean and not damaged.
Decorations for a party can be as simple as candles on the table, or a more elaborate flower arrangement, tablecloth, and even chair slipcovers. Using food or flowers is a cheap way to decorate. Get inspired by looking through home magazines for ideas.
Get Set for the Party
Make time for house cleaning, shopping, decorating, and setting the table. Make sure to save some time before the party so you can get ready and relax before your guests arrive a red-faced tizz answering the door is not the look of a relaxed host.
Write down a timetable (a sort-of list) for the day of the party, working backwards from party time. Leave plenty of time for food preparation, baking, cooling and decorating, setting the table, arranging flowers, planning music or games, and getting yourself and family ready!
Clean, clean, and clean again! A clean house is welcoming, the kitchen and bathroom will need special attention.
Tips for a fabulous dinner party
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when planning your party. Butchers, delicatessens, even the florist will be happy to give advice.
- Shop first. If you buy as much as possible well ahead of party time, you will be assured of best quality as well as a well-stocked pantry.
- Plan activities for kids to keep them out of your hair if they’re invited.
- Try to plan so you have very little to do on the actual day of the party.
- Relax! A relaxed hostess is a key to a great party. If you’re enjoying yourself, the guests will too.