Tips for Throwing a Dinner Party

Here are some tips for throwing a fun and successful dinner party, from lessons the Hostess has learned over the years:

  • A Good Plan is Half Your Success.  Even if the plan is to order pizza, it’s good to have a plan.  Have a plan and then work the plan.  Figure out the menu and then figure out how and when you’ll get everything done.  Then, come dinner time, you’ll have your wits, and your sense of humor, still with you.  And this will make you the perfect host/hostess.
  • Size Matters.  In my opinion, 6 – 8 guests is perfect for a dinner party.  10 – 12 can work, too.  More than that, and it quickly loses the intimacy and you might as well go back to a walk-around and mingle kind of party.
  • Serve Within Your Comfort Zone.  If a less than perfect dish is your idea of a complete disaster, then don’t attempt to make something you’ve never made before.  Stick to what you know.  Or at least practice beforehand.
  • Don’t Stress the Small Stuff. Something doesn’t have to be elaborate to be lovely.  Sometimes I use a tablecloth (which may or may not be ironed depending on my mood) and sometimes we just use place mats.  Sometimes there is a nice, floral centerpiece and sometimes there is just a candle or two.  We attended a nice dinner party one time where the hostess used a sheet to cover the table.  And one of the best desserts I ever served came from a local bakery.  If you’re thinking you can’t host a dinner party because you don’t have time or budget for fancy, then rethink it.
  • Leave Procrastination for Another Day.  Do what you can ahead of time.  Like setting the table.  Or cleaning the bathroom.  And definitely do the shopping ahead of time.  Leaving everything to the last minute will just make you stressed and cranky.  Or at least that’s what it does to me.
  • Start the Party at the Door.  From the moment guests walk through the door, let your home say “welcome.”  Get that music playlist started and candles lit before guests arrive.  (I always like to have a candle or small light in the bathroom so when guests need to use the loo they aren’t fumbling around in the dark trying to find the light switch.)  Drinks should be ready to serve and, if you’re serving an appetizer, it should be ready to go as well.
  • You’re the Cruise Director.  You don’t need a whistle and clipboard, but just remember that people expect to follow your lead.  You need to get them to the table when it’s time to eat.  Pour the wine, or direct someone else to do so, when it’s time for wine.  Clear the plates when people are done eating and bring in the dessert when you want them to eat it.  And, if you want the party to end, stand-up, stretch and start doing the dishes.  Your guests will get the hint.  We’ve entertained some very successful and high-ranking business people that, at the office, are always the ones taking charge.  Yet, at a dinner party, these people will sit, as if unsure of their next move, until someone says, “It’s time for dessert!”  It’s your party.  You get to be the one that calls the shots for once.

Happy Entertaining, and read the Hostess’s post for more details.

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