How to Prep for a Dinner Party
Hosting a dinner party is a fantastic way to entertain family and friends. The truth of the matter though, is that all the preparation and entertaining can overwhelm even the most resilient of hosts. In fact, it can become so overwhelming that the host doesn’t get to enjoy the occasion at all. So follow these simple steps on How to Prep for a Dinner Party.
There are some measures that you can take to avoid the dinner party stress and host an amazing dinner party that runs smoothly.
Plan Ahead – Taking the time to plan ahead can greatly reduce the stress you experience.
I usually give myself a good two weeks or more so that I can have everything in place. Let’s go over the next steps of a Focus on Food, Menu Plan, Making Lists, and Table Decor!
Focus on Food – Make sure to ask your guests for any specifics regarding allergies or dietary restrictions well in advance.
Create a menu that compliments each item. I usually run with a theme and then it is easier. It can be an Italian night or Greek or as simple as a BBQ theme or a Steakhouse meal.
Menu Plan – When planning your menu, consider items that can be made ahead so that you aren’t spending the entire time after your guests arrive, cooking.
I do all things that can be prepped ahead and then stored in the refrigerator if needed. I have a dozen or so small bowls with lids and I complete everything down to the parsley being chopped and stored. In doing this I can have full attention on my guests.
I find there is nothing worse than a host being in the kitchen the whole time and looking haggard. You need to be with your company enjoying yourself and making it appear to be effortless.
Also, don’t try new recipes that you have never made before. I have done this and always curse myself for not trying it ahead of time. A dinner party isn’t the time for experimentation.
If someone offers to bring something let them, you don’t have to be the hero!! Make it small though, you don’t want to ask them to bring the main dish or a complicated dessert.
Make Lists – Utilize detailed lists to keep track of the various aspects of the party.
Guest lists, shopping lists, food preparations and even a list of activities can all help you get organized and avoid the stress.
I even make lists on when dishes need to start being prepped. Some can be done days ahead of time and continue that list right down to when items need to be cooked and for how long. This will greatly affect your stress level and have things running smooth as silk.
Table Décor – You can keep the table simple or more elaborate. If going all out then start early. It is a good idea to prepare the table well in advance, so you aren’t worrying about it.
This is something that I always do well in advance, like 2-3 days ahead of time. Fresh flowers can be added at the last minute but the rest is all ready for. Keep the flower arrangements low or move them when company sits down.
Sometimes I am quite elaborate with my table and this gives me time to do those little added touches like menus, place cards, small gifts or treats. If it is the holidays I definitely do more and planning ahead gives me that extra time I need.
Also, bring out your good things, this is a time to use them, celebrate them. I use my good china as often as I can.
Final prep for the table and more:
Water is in jugs and are in the refrigerator ready to be served. Water glasses along with wine glasses are on the table.
Butter is out in a dish, so it is not hard.
Salt and pepper is on the table.
If serving crackers or bread, the basket is out and a napkin is already placed in it.
Wine is chilled and a wine cooler is at the ready in the freezer or on the table.
All food is prepped to the very end if possible or at the ready.
Bar is set and welcome cocktail is ready to the point of serving if possible. I like to premake cocktails in a lovely jug to serve. Or beer and wine are on ice.
Set the Mood – Plan out a dinner party playlist to keep the atmosphere light and happy. You are about to feed their bellies, but music feeds the soul.
Relax and Enjoy – The point of hosting a dinner party is to bring everyone together and enjoy yourselves. Make sure that you have the chance to join in on the fun. Take the time to greet all your guests and enjoy the food you put so much effort into.
Also, don’t be rude and stand in the kitchen doing your dishes! They can wait, even until the next day. Your company wants to see you while they are there not hearing you crashing dishes in the kitchen.
Hosting a dinner party can be an amazing experience for both the host and their guests. Make the effort to plan in advance and focus on making lists, and make sure you take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Trying to keep a party within your means? Check out this post on How to Host a Dinner Party on a Budget.
Comments & Reviews
Tobias Dan says
I think where most hosts get it wrong is the planning stage, it is widely believed that you can start preparing for your guests few hours before their arrival since all you need to do is to cook, but at the end, they end up cooking throughout the visit just like you said. I hope your article will be an eyeopener for most people buried in this misconception.
Tara Noland says
So true, planning, planning, planning is the key. Try to think of everything ahead of time because you will be busy with drinks, plates and extras that people want.
Tobias Dan says
Well said, Tara.
Very informative articles you have got throughout the site. Keep up the great work. Sure will follow up on your upcoming posts.
Tara Noland says
Tobias Dan says
Allison Cooper says
I love all of these tips and how your broke it all down to get ready for your party! Planning an event is such hard work and this is a great way to keep you organized!
You made everything look so stunning! I have never been to an official dinner party, but I have been to people’s homes for dinner and their dishes barely matched!! lol!!
Jeni Hawkins says
Planning a party can be super hectic. Thanks for breaking it down, with these tips it will be less hectic and more fun.
Cathi Crismon says
Boy oh boy do I need to follow your list!!
I always make a list of my menu items but I end up throwing in the table decor when possible and completely miss the relaxing.
Thanks so much for the tips!!
I love hosting dinner parties, but I do tend to get a tad stressed. I could use pointers to avoid the stress. Your table looks amazing and those bacon wrapped onion bombs – drool!