Whether you’re hosting a housewarming event, celebrating a special occasion, or want an excuse to spend more time with those you love, a dinner party is always a good choice. However, while they are a lot of fun for the attendees, dinner party hosts have their work cut out for them, even if you’re keeping it low-key and only inviting a handful of guests. Many choose not to host a party due to the stress of planning a successful event.
With that in mind, here are some simple tips you can follow to plan a party that is stress-free and sophisticated – the kind your guests will be talking about for years to come.
How To Host A Sophisticated Dinner Party: Send out Invites Early
Sending out invites beforehand gives your guests plenty of time to add them to their calendars or make arrangements that allow them to attend. Ideally, you should send out invites between three and six weeks before the party, whether you’re sending out a physical invite or a virtual one.
It would be best if you also asked guests to RSVP by a specific date so that you can prepare accordingly. This also means you know exactly how many people will attend, which can shape the rest of your dinner party plans. For example, if several guests cannot make it, you may not need to spend quite as much on groceries or drinks unless you want to be living off leftovers for a while.
Determine your budget
If you’re worried about the costs of hosting a dinner party, you’ll be pleased to hear you can throw a party on a budget. For example, you could:
- Keep the guest list small and intimate;
- Host a potluck party, where guests contribute to food & drink;
- Shop locally to curb spending on groceries.
However, you should set a strict budget ahead of time. Otherwise, you risk overspending on ingredients, drinks, or decorations – which is much less likely if you have a budget allocated to each purchase.
As the name suggests, the dinner is the star of the show at your dinner party, which means you need to think carefully about your menu. You should also be sure to take dietary requirements and allergies into consideration when cooking! Though you may be tempted to cook an intricate 5+ course meal, it’s better to keep things simple with just three courses. Otherwise, you’d spend more time in the kitchen than with your guests.
If you aren’t sure where to begin with your menu, try choosing a theme for the evening. For example, this could hone in on a specific cuisine that you know your guests love or stick to more traditional home comforts.
Don’t forget drinks
When creating a dinner party menu, you should also think carefully about what drinks you serve. While most guests will bring wine or some other drink as a gift to these events, you should still have some drinks prepared yourself. Think carefully about your menu, and select drinks that pair nicely with your choice of sauce, meat, or fish.
You might also want to try your hand at making your own cocktails. If you aren’t a mixologist, don’t worry; there are plenty of simple cocktail recipes you can follow online that taste just as good as they look.
Practice, practice, practice
If you really want to impress your dinner guests, then you may want to practice cooking ahead of time, even if you’re following a recipe you are already familiar with. This could also help to ease any nerves you’re dealing with ahead of time, as you already know you can do it!
Clean your home
Many people believe that they need to deep-clean their home before hosting a dinner party, but this isn’t strictly true. While your home should be clean and clutter-free, you only need to focus on spaces where guests will spend time. This could include the dining room, kitchen, living room, and bathroom. After all, you’re unlikely to serve cocktails in your bedroom or home office!
Either way, clean the space the day before the dinner party. This way, you’ve got more time in the day to focus on cooking and decorating, as opposed to grabbing the mop. Again, this will help to keep your stress at a manageable level.
Decorating the table can take your dinner party to the next level, and there are many ways in which you can achieve a sophisticated atmosphere! For example, you could:
- Choose a sleek, simple tablecloth or placemats;
- Light candles to create a more romantic/intimate atmosphere;
- Create your own centrepiece;
- Design your own place settings;
When following the above steps, stick to a specific color palette for a more aesthetically pleasing finish.
Help to break the ice
The conversation can make or break a dinner party, and as the host, it’s your responsibility to ensure the conversation flows smoothly throughout the night. However, if you’re cooking and preparing food, this is easier said than done. You could remedy this by putting together some icebreakers for your guests, especially if they’re meeting each other for the first time.
Become a pro poker dealer
Keeping your guests entertained after dinner means your party can extend long into the night. It also means you can put off washing up for a little longer! While there are many different party games, poker is always a great choice. However, you should ensure that you brush up on your poker skills by playing a few online games beforehand. This way, you can be the perfect dealer for your friends and family and teach those who may not have played before how to play properly.
Think of other games, too
Having a list of potential games or dinner party activities to choose from reduces the amount of stress you face as a host. This way, if one game isn’t working or isn’t quite as fun as you’d envisioned, you can try something else. For example, instead of card-based games, you might want to play something a little more active, like Mr & Mrs or Pictionary. If you’re running out of ideas, ask guests to put forward some suggestions or dust off family-favorite games.
Choose the background music
Ideally, your guests will be paying more attention to the conversation than the music – but that does not mean that your choice of music isn’t important. In fact, it can go a long way in terms of setting the tone for the night. As such, you should be sure to put together a playlist beforehand or at least try out a few pre-existing playlists until you find one that’s a great fit.
If any of your guests are musically inclined, consider asking them to play some music for everyone. This is a great way to elevate the experience of your other guests and gives your friends a chance to show off their skills and talent. If you were really pulling out all of the stops, you could hire a professional musician to keep you singing and dancing all night long, though this will likely eat into your budget quite considerably.
Putting together a schedule to follow on the day of the dinner party ensures that everything is in order when the guests arrive. For example, you may want to start by picking up fresh groceries and ingredients or decorating your home before prepping the food.
The more organized you are, the less stressed you’ll feel.
Leave phones at the door!
We spend more time than ever before on our phones. In fact, the average adult spends over three and a half hours a day on their phone. While it can be great for taking photographs and preserving memories, phone usage is also a conversation killer! As a result, if you’re looking to plan a dinner party with the difference, encourage guests to leave their phones at the door or to put them on silent. This way, you’ll all remain engaged and focused on the conversation and spending time together, as opposed to posting on social media.
If you still want to take pictures while upholding the no-phones rule, you could always buy some disposable cameras and snap away. Not only will the photos look great, but they’ll also make perfect keepsakes once developed.
Remember to have fun
While you may be planning on perfection, don’t forget that the whole point of the dinner party is to have fun with people you care about. That should be your priority moving forward, and it’s worth reminding yourself of this whenever you feel stressed or something goes wrong.
Your guests will not remember (or really care) if the food is a little burned or under-seasoned – as they’re much more likely to remember the conversations and love you shared over the evening.
Deep breaths, you’ve got this!