Dinner parties are all about relaxing, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company with good food and drinks. Whatever the occasion, from birthdays to just a get-together, dinner parties are a great way to party like “grown-ups”.
It’s almost like a “rite of passage” hosting a successful dinner party, albeit a bit stressful if you’re the host/ hostess AND the chef. But don’t let that stop you. Our quick guide to hosting the ultimate winter dinner party will ensure success for first-timers or occasional hosts!
Decide the Why, Who’s, and When
Why host a dinner party if you don’t have a reason, guests, or a date? Knowing these simple things will kick-start the event and help you plan for the rest of the night. Ask yourself why you’re hosting a dinner party. Is it for a birthday, a celebrating of sorts, or because you want to host your very first dinner party? Having a “why” will help set the tone of the overall night and dictate everything such as your menu and decoration.
Know who you’re inviting and how many people are coming to set up the right amount of dining chairs and plates. It’s polite to know if anyone has dietary restrictions so you can accommodate accordingly. Just don’t worry too much about it; you’re the host, not their dietician or nutritionist. You don’t have to prepare individual meals for each guest (you might as well go to a restaurant!), but just have options available if you know that someone needs it.
Lastly, when. When are you hosting the big dinner party? Don’t organise it last minute or on a weekend where no one can make it. Your guests need time to RVSP too just as much as you need time to buy ingredients or decor for the night! Mark the big event in your planner and calendar so you don’t forget. Nothing is more embarrassing than forgetting your own dinner party.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how easy and fast you could derail without proper planning. The ultimate tip to hosting a great dinner party is timing, from welcoming your guests through the door to when to serve your courses.
Create an attack plan of everything (and we literally mean everything) on the menu. Start with the recipe that takes the longest, like desserts that need time to cool/ set or mains that need 8+ hours of cooking. Planning and prepping everything out will help you host your perfect dinner party.
It’s also a very good idea to make recipes you’re comfortable with, the ones that you know front to back. You really don’t want to serve a new recipe you haven’t tested with and is out of your culinary skills. Reading and studying the recipes will help you feel more confident and prepared for the night ahead of you.
Set the Scene
The scene of the main feast is your no.1 focus before you go off and decorate other parts of the dining space. Do you have enough seats and plates for your guests? Does everyone have cutlery or glasses? Once you get the right amount of everything, you can mix or match your dinnerware depending on your style. Having an extendable dining table is great, especially for small dining spaces or if you don't have use for a 2m+ dining table at home!
For a safe option, choose matte black dinnerware that brings a sleek and modern flair to the dining table. Try mixed ceramics in different colours to add a playful and down to earth vibe. Add some sparkle to the table with matte metallic accents, like cutlery or centrepieces, for a trendy and subtle luxe look.
A few more simple touches, from candles, napkins, flowers or salt and pepper, really help the mood of your dinner party while encapsulating your overall interior style. And don’t forget the music – a dinner party playlist is crucial to keep the night upbeat and relaxed!
Not letting your guests do the dishes, even though they might insist on doing so, is a rule that everyone should follow. Do start your clean-up before bed and after your guests have gone home. That burnt dish you’re dreading to clean will look even worse the next morning. You’ll thank yourself for waking up to a clean kitchen.
It may be stressful but dinner parties are all about fun. Keep your expectations in check – not everything will be 110% perfect. Go with the flow and enjoy the company of your friends and the menu that you’ve prepared!