Throwing your first dinner party can be a seriously nerve-wracking event. With so much at stake, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of planning it and end up despising the process. In actuality, a well-executed dinner party should be stress-free and really rewarding. It’s less about the food and more about the fun and the atmosphere, and who doesn’t love playing hostess? With these simple rules, you can have a delicious dinner party that your guests will remember.
The majority of the work for a dinner party should be done before the guests arrive, so that when they’re in your home, you’re free to give them the full attention. Think hard about your guest list before anything else – make sure everyone gets on, or will probably get on if they’re not yet acquainted. Appoint a deputy to keep the conversation going and drinks flowing while you’re out of the room. Make sure all your shopping is done before the day itself – you’ll want to spend that cleaning and preparing food. If you’re cooking much from fresh, do everything that can be successfully reheated in the microwave well ahead of time. Make sure your cocktails are ready for when your guests arrive so you’re not rushing from the start. It’s really important that you’re aware of any dietary requirements of your guest in advance too – there’s nothing more awkward than a vegan having nothing but carrots and broccoli to eat at a dinner party.
Don’t over-complicate it
Nobody is expecting Michelin star cuisine. Make something you’re comfortable making, that you’ve trialled before, and you know you’re not going to mess up. A cold starter or dessert is a great way to ensure you have to do minimal cooking too. If you’re a nervous chef, check out these kitchen hacks that Kristin Mcgee has come up with to get you started.
Keep the drink flowing
There’s nothing worse than running out of wine at a dinner party. Buy as much as you expect to need, and then buy extra. If you’re lucky, your guests will bring some too, but don’t count on it. Wine is the lynchpin of the dinner party, so keep everyone’s glasses topped up. Unless you’ve got a very foodie group of friends, don’t stress yourself with pairing the wine with the food, just have a few different grapes and colors available. And always have a liqueur or whiskies available for after dinner sipping.
Have entertainment planned
Nobody is expecting a clown or a mariachi band to show up after dinner, but it’s a good idea to have a few ideas of post-dinner fun, just in case conversation starts to slow down. If you’re all keen card players, a few rounds of poker after dinner can be brilliant fun. Otherwise keep it light with Articulate or the name game – where you pop a celebrity’s name on your forehead and ask questions to determine who you are. There’s no better way to get everyone giggling.
The more you have prepared before guests arrive, the easier it’s guaranteed to go. Just enjoy it, don’t do the washing up until the next day, and have a laugh – it’s meant to be fun after all.