Imagine the perfect evening with friends. The food is delicious, the house is sparkling clean and all of your guests are smiling and chatting as the perfect selection of dinner music plays comfortably in the background. Several of your guests remark on how wonderful the meal is and what a lovely evening they are having. They may even ask you how you pulled it off and want some dinner party tips for their next dinner party.
If this is your vision of a great dinner party, then welcome to the club. All of us want to make a good impression. We want to show off our home, our skills in the kitchen, and our superb hosting skills. We want to put on a show that our guests will remember long after the event, leaving them dreaming of the next perfect dinner party. No pressure, right?
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed at the mere thought of hosting a successful dinner party and the above scenario seems too good to be true, take heart. We are here to help with some field-tested dinner party tips for hosting a memorable dinner party – without all the stress.
Good Planning is Good Enough
Even the most well thought out plans never come off without a hitch. We can go over every detail, every scenario and every possible outcome, but in the end, there is no such thing as the perfect plan.
Your dinner party plans don’t have to be perfect; they just have to be good enough. Remember, your guests are looking forward to a nice evening with friends and some good food, not the event of the season. Take off your “perfect dinner party” hat and let’s plan this thing out!
Sights, scents and sound. These are the big three you want to focus on to set the stage for your dinner party. You want your house to look its best on dinner party day, but you can’t wait till that day to get your place in ship shape. The first step of your plan is to have all that cleaning and organizing done well in advance, but not so far ahead that things get messy again!
The house is clean and tidy, and the place looks fantastic. You’ve picked out a beautiful centerpiece for the table, added some color here and there and even placed some pretty plants in strategic areas. So far, so good. You’ve got the sights part down pat, now it’s on to the rest. Let’s talk about scents.
The aroma of your mouth-watering cooking will fill the kitchen and probably the main areas of the house. But as great as that dinner smells, you need to give a little thought to some other scents in the rest of the house. You don’t want to overwhelm your guests with too many fragrances. Be sure to add a little aromatic variety in other rooms. An essential oil diffuser or candle in the bathroom with a subtle scent adds a nice touch without creating a battlefield of competing scents.
Which brings us to the sounds. Your dinner guests will undoubtedly be chatting and carrying on conversations before, during and after the dinner party. But what’s a dinner party without some dinner music? You want the volume low enough that your guests don’t need to raise their voices yet loud enough to be enjoyed during lulls in the conversation. Have fun with your musical choices and create a playlist beforehand that will last several hours so you can set it and forget it.
You want to plan your menu for the dinner party well in advance. The goal here is good food with good friends, so don’t over-complicate things trying to create the perfect meal. Remember when you saw the most beautiful five-course dinner on that cooking show? Forget it. Your dinner party isn’t an audition for America’s Next Top Dinner Party Host. Remember, we’re going for low-stress here! One of the best dinner party tips we know of is to design your menu with dishes that you are good at preparing. It’s okay if your taco dip doesn’t have the most beautiful presentation, we’re sure it will be delicious.
If you must try out a new recipe, at least give it a trial run a week or so in advance. We don’t want any surprises on the big day, do we? Whatever menu you create, make sure the cooking doesn’t need a lot of monitoring. Make sure you know how long each item will take to prepare, too. Part of the menu planning is making sure you have enough to feed everyone and that you have the right bakeware, utensils, glasses, and dinnerware. Take stock of your kitchen supplies as part of your menu planning, so you don’t end up frantically searching for a specific pan or that eighth wine glass.
When you plan your menu, consider including your dinner guests in the preparation. Not only does recruiting guests for cooking duty add to the fun, but it also takes some of the work off your plate You don’t have to teach them the recipes, just plan on delegating some of the easier parts of the preparation like salads, drinks, etc. With a little forethought, you can enjoy interacting with your guests while the food is being prepared and get a little help. Talk about low-stress. That almost sounds like fun!
Once you know what you are going to prepare for your dinner party, it’s time to make your grocery list. Get all of your recipes together and take stock of what items you already have. Start putting your list together and make sure you remember that you want to prepare more than enough for your guests. You never know how hungry they will be until they start digging in and you don’t want to run out of food. Speaking of hungry, all of those delicious aromas are going to make some stomachs growl right from the getgo. Add some snacks to that grocery list for good measure, too. Grapes, cheese, crackers and other simple snacks are easy to prepare and will take the edge off that hunger until your masterpieces are ready.
Get Your Gameface On
Your dinner guests arrived a couple of hours ago. They are full and satisfied and everything went off without a hitch. (Maybe not really, but probably close enough.) The table is cleared, the dishes are piled up in the sink, and your well-thought-out playlist fills the air with relaxing sounds. Now what?
You could get started on all those dishes, couldn’t you? Absolutely not! The end of the dinner doesn’t mean it’s the end of the evening. There’s still plenty of time for some good fun and entertainment. With a little activity planning, you don’t have to worry about watching your guests nod off. You can ask your guests when you invite them what kind of games they like, or what types of movies they enjoy. Don’t be afraid to take some of the emphasis off the dinner and highlight the party aspect. Almost everyone likes to have fun!
Just make sure you let your guests know ahead of time what to expect. You know your guests best, so when you are planning activities, try to create some entertainment that will appeal to the majority. If it’s a weeknight, you may want to skip the movie idea and just go with some games.
If you plan to have a game night, select games that focus more on fun than competitiveness and allow plenty of time for good conversation. Choose games that can be played in rounds or for somewhat short durations. You want your guests to feel free to bow out and head home if they like, but also keep things lively and fun for the rest. Choose some classic games that are likely to be familiar to your guests like Charades or favorite card games. It’s not so much about which game you choose as it is that your guests be well entertained.
With this, you have a guide to help you pull off a delicious, fun and low-stress dinner party. Remember that your dinner guests want to enjoy themselves and have a pleasant evening. But it’s also important that you enjoy the event too. Hosting a great dinner party does require some planning, but keep in mind that dinner party tips are guidelines and not rules. Focus on feeding your guests, making them comfortable and providing a little entertainment. Who knows, you could get rave reviews and a shot at America’s Next Top Host to boot.
For an even lower-stress dinner party, why not let The Maids® take some of the work off your plate? Deep, environmentally safe cleaning is our game, and we promise to have your home looking great for your next dinner party. Let us take some of that stress off and let you focus on the food, friends and fun!