Most agree that dinner parties are fun. Friends, wine, food, what’s not to like? Well, for a lot of hosts, dinner parties are met with a good amount of anxiety. Concerns about menu and presentation fill your head for days leading up to the event. Here are my tips to make the whole hosting process easier and therefore more enjoyable!
- Send a real invitation (okay, e-invitation). A formal invitation is a great way to start the dinner party process, as it clears up any confusion that may ruin the evening. Tell them where to be, when to be there, and what they can bring. Also, ask if they have any dietary restrictions you should be aware of. I whipped mine up with the (free) app Redstamp. Plus, I mean, so cute right?
- Plan your meal before you start flapping your jack. Settle on an appetizer, main, side, and dessert. Take into consideration how many people you have and how formal you want the dinner to be. If you are having close friends or family over, feel free to make it fun and light. For regular friends keeping it simple might be your best bet. Don’t set yourself up for failure by picking an overly ambitious main dish. It’s best to stick to things you have made before, as to prevent any hiccups.
- Skip hot appetizers and head straight for their cold brethren. Olives, cheese, grapes, crackers, and nuts are a dinner party lifesaver. They take minutes to prepare, are great conversation starters, and always a crowd pleaser. Plus they won’t take up precious oven space/time.
- Ask your guests to contribute intelligently. Sure, it’s easy to just ask someone to bring wine or beer, but you can handle that yourself with little to no effort. Why not let them actually HELP you? My suggestion is to ask them to contribute towards dessert. Our friends recently learned to make ice cream, and brought a delicious peanut concoction to pair with our homemade brownies. It lets your guests showcase their skills, and saves you from making an extra dish.
- Set yourself up well. Do as much as you can the day before. I was making chicken artichoke potpies, so I roasted the chicken the day before, saving me an hour the evening of dinner. Also, try to eliminate trips to the kitchen by setting out a water pitcher, glasses, plates, napkins, and silverware ahead of time. It’s your party, you should enjoy it!
- Add some small personalizations to give the party a pulled together feel. Set the table beforehand and place namecards at each seat. Making individual dishes instead of serving family style also saves on the serving/cleaning up hassle.
Do you have any tips or tricks for headache-free hosting? We would love to hear ‘em!