8 Top Tips For When Hosting Dinner Parties
Having a dinner party is always an exciting time to spend with your friends or family and time to enjoy the evening but when it’s you that is hosting, it can turn from exciting to stressful very quickly. After all, you want to impress your guests, you have to make sure the house is clean, set the table to look pretty, master a delicious meal for all of your guests to eat… the list goes on.
But, it doesn’t always have to be stressful. One of my proudest traits is being a “relaxed” hostess. I love hosting for people in my home, mainly because I am such a homebody and don’t mind putting in the effort to host if I get to do it from the comfort of my own home!
It’s all about keeping a nice atmosphere that keeps everyone at ease, especially yourself and my 8 top tips will help things run nice and smooth and will allow you to enjoy a stress-free evening with friends that they will remember (for the right reasons).
1. Preparation is key.
It’s always important to plan when hosting a dinner party so by making a list of the things you need to do or buy for the dinner will make it a lot easier and will prevent you from forgetting anything as you can tick off your list as you go.
Now, there are only a few things I hate more than doing the dishes, so I always like to make sure that the dishwasher is completely empty before the party starts, that way I have plenty of room for all the dirty dishes and will prevent the kitchen from building up with mess as the night goes on.
As well as keeping the dishwasher empty, I always make sure to empty the kitchen bin before a party too. There’s nothing worse than having a full bin during the party!
2. Pick the right menu.
Although it’s tempting to show off by trying to cook something elaborate, it’s much better and a lot less stressful to create dishes you’ve made before and building from that. I like to choose a menu that can be prepared in advance, meaning I can spend more time at the dinner table on the night.
If you are planning on serving quite a hearty main course, it might be best to opt for a light starter! You don’t want to leave your guests feeling too full to carry on but also don’t want them to visit a drive-through on the way home.
As well as the above, when thinking about the food menu it’s always a good idea to ask in advance about any dietary requirements or no-no’s your guests may have. Imagine having bought all of your ingredients to find out that Mark’s girlfriend doesn’t eat fish.
3. Provide plenty of drinks.
(My favourite & most used tip!)
Wine is normally the safest bet from personal experience but I would also recommend having beer or cider on hand to suit other peoples tastes. Now you don’t want to break the bank just for one night of hosting so don’t feel rude asking guests to bring their own drinks or if they offer to bring their own, let them, it will most likely be something they like and will drink which makes it easier for everyone.
Don’t forget that some guests may not fancy a drink or will be driving home so having soft drinks in is also very handy, (especially if Mark’s girlfriend has had too much.)
4. Set the table early.
It’s never a bad thing to set the table early. There's nothing worse than leaving it until the last minute and your guests walk into you running from room to room to find the candles you forgot to put out earlier or to find you’ve only set half the cutlery.
Your table doesn’t have to look like they do in a showroom or how they do at Christmas, it’s all about personal preference so you can be as simple or extravagant as you desire. For me, I like to keep it simple and I find that by adding flowers and napkins and everything else, that they just tend to get in the way when serving as well as the mess they leave when clearing up at the end of the night.
5. Play some music.
Background music is great if there is ever a lull in conversation or even if you are all having a whale of a time, it creates a nice atmosphere for guests and helps lift the mood during dinner.
I like to make my playlists in advance and make sure to include songs that I know my guests like, that way there are no skipping of songs or people getting up from the table to change the song because there is always a song that someone at the table enjoys.
6. The party timeline.
I love filling my dinner parties with a full night of activities. From the start to finish, you want your guests laughing and having a great time.
Between courses, make sure that anything that needs to go in the oven is done and in good time, that way you are not leaving your guests waiting for their next course for too long and you’re not spending too much time away from the table.
Then when dinner has finished and the conversations start to come to a bit of a halt, go get out the board games that have been tucked away in the cupboard since Christmas or even make your own up! It’s a great way of adding more fun into the night without it feeling too forced. The games you play can all depend on your group but we love Cards Against Humanity, Articulate, Heads Up and the classic What Am I?.
7. The mess.
I always like to clean up right after the party, that way there is nothing to worry about the morning after but if you are too tired, stick everything in the dishwasher or leave the dishes to soak in the sink overnight.
Some guests might offer help to be nice, but don’t feel like you have to accept it, remember, you invited them over for a dinner party so try and take care of everything involving food which means the prep, cooking and especially the cleanup.
And the candles you left lit on the dinner table? Don’t forget to blow them out.
It’s not often you can get all your friends in the same room at the same time, which is why it is so important to enjoy these moments with your friends and family around the dinner table as you may not do it again for a while.
Make sure to go easy on yourself, you’re already doing a great job by offering to host and making yourself more nervous than necessary isn’t going to help on the night and won’t make things run any smoother.
Sit back and relax and take pride in what you have managed to do for your friends and family.
These are my 8 top tips for when hosting a dinner party. I hope they make your life easier when it’s your turn to host or maybe my tips have shown it’s not that scary and have inspired you to plan your own dinner party!
If you liked this blog and like the idea of keeping organised for dinner parties, make sure to check out our Christmas Dinner Essentials Checklist blog, it’s got some great products in there that will help a lot when cooking for large aprties, not just for Christmas time!