Hosting a dinner party is a skill in its own right and something that can be quite a task. Read on for some handy hints and tips for hosting.

The Plan

You wouldn’t throw a big birthday bash without sending out invitations, whether they are hand written and posted or the more economical e-invitation version. A “dinner party” is still a form of party so you should begin by officially inviting your guests to the occasion. 

Ask your guests to RSVP stating any dietary requirements so you can consider these and put together a menu to suit everyone and avoid any nasty surprised on the night. 

The Preparation

The days leading up to your dinner party are prime time for preparation so use them wisely instead of attempting to do everything on the day of your event. If you can make prepare or make any of your dishes in advance, for example dessert, it’s a good idea to do so.

On the day of your dinner party it can be helpful to have all your ingredients out and ready to go before you start cooking, so you can spot anything that may be missing in advance. 

Ensure to empty the dishwasher before you begin the evening so it’s ready to load up.

Finally, spend some time making a fitting playlist to set the ambiance for the evening but be sure to keep this to background music, not too load that guests can’t hear each other!

The Setting

The table is your centre stage so make sure you spend time making it shine! Everyone likes their table set up differently, some prefer to keep things to the basics for a minimal, natural vibe whilst others like to dress the table in plenty of glitz and glamour to symbolise that this is a party and not just your usual dinner. 

If you want to do things by the book here’s how it should be done:

Place a plate or charger about 1.5 inches from the edge of the table, then line up flatware with the bottom rim. It doesn't matter how far apart they are as long as they're evenly spaced. Stemware is above and to the right of the dinner plate; bread-and-butter plates sit above and to the left. Use the flatware on the outside first and work toward the plate. 

Consider set places for your guests, this way you can mix up the attendees and prompt conversation by seating similar characters together. Candles or mood lighting are a great way to create a calm atmosphere so set this before your guests arrive. 

The Food

Choosing what to serve to your guests can be a harder task than actually delivering on the night. You’ll no doubt want to impress your guests with your offering but above all serve them something that looks good and tastes great. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Go seasonal, plan dishes which use ingredients that are in season to get the best flavours 
  • If you are doing canapés make sure you have one type for every three guests so for example if you were to have nine guests you would serve three different canapés. If canapés is a bit too much put out light nibbles to keep guests satisfied before dinner 
  • Plan a menu that allows you to sit with your guests and eat – nobody wants to see their host up and down from the table during their meal
  • Presentation is key and can be achieved with simple garnishing, serving food which varies in colour and using serving dishes for things like accompaniments 

The After-party

You’ve planed the evening to ensure it goes without a hitch, you’ve created an environment fit for your party and you’ve prepared your menu to suit your guests and your skills, all that is left to consider is what the rest of the evening holds. 

Dinner and drinks with good conversation may be all that is needed but it’s always a good idea to have something prepared for light entertainment to avoid guests doing the dishes... Card games can be a great way to continue the social aspect of the party and encourage a bit of badinage.