Top Tips: How to host a stress-free dinner party
Hosting your first dinner party in your new home is very much a rite of passage for many people. The idea of gathering your nearest and dearest in a space that you’ve worked so hard to make your own is a big occasion.
However, with what seems like an endless list of things to think about – the guests, the prep, the timing! – it can also be quite a stressful experience. Our top tips will help you to plan your upcoming dinner party and, most of all, ensure you have enough time to enjoy the event yourself.
Before you start calling around all your friends or family, it’s good to consider how many people you can comfortably accommodate for. Do you have enough space around the table for all of your friends and their partners? Is your oven big enough to cook up that five-course meal you’ve been daydreaming about?
Dietary requirements are also a huge thing when planning a dinner party so once you’ve narrowed down your guest list, be sure to check around the group beforehand to see if anyone will require specific catering.
There’s nothing worse than leaving everything to the last minute and having to spend the entire evening in the kitchen while your pals get to mingle. If you can prep certain things the evening before, that’ll be a big-time saver. It’s also worth planning your menu accordingly – for example, slow cookers are fantastic for big one-pot dishes that are always jam-packed full of flavour.
The prep doesn’t end at food, either. If you have a dishwasher, ensure this is empty before your party arrives; that way you can load the dirty dishes as you go. This goes for emptying the bins too!
Your guests have all arrived and you’re trying to act as chef, waiter, cleaner and host – the last thing you’re going to want to be thinking about is rounding up matching cutlery and glassware. Avoid any last-minute stress and set your table well in advance, perhaps the night before when you’ve got plenty of time.
A well-dressed table will make the night feel like more of an occasion but you don’t need to splurge on fancy crockery; simply put out wine glasses, lay some nice napkins and light a couple of candles!
The menu is the biggest part of the evening but this will hugely depend on the number of people you have invited. The food doesn’t need to be complicated; perhaps something pre-prepared that can be warmed up or served cold for a starter, a slow cooked meal or big pasta dish for the main and a simple but classic pudding for dessert.
If you have quite a big crowd coming over – say more than six people – you may also want to consider asking everyone to bring something with them. For example, you can have your guests bring a side, salad and the dessert, while you focus on the main course!
It’s important to think about what kind of evening you’re planning. Do you want something more traditional – serving up individual plates of food to your guests once they’re all seated around the table? Or would you rather something a little more unconventional?
Family-style serving not only saves you time and takes off the pressure of having to dish up individual portions, but it’s often more relaxed and accessible for your guests too.
The Main Event
The time has come. You’ve planned, you’ve shopped, you’ve prepped and your dinner party is in full swing. Now is not the time to worry that you haven’t picked up enough pre-dinner snacks or that you should have spent more time cleaning and tidying.
Do as much as you can to ensure that you get to make the most of the evening; you’ve put in all the effort and its only fair that you get to reap the rewards! Embrace the fun and relaxed atmosphere and not only will you get to enjoy it yourself, but your guests will feel more at ease too.
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