Parties are fun, but hosting them can be a lot of work. How do you minimize stress so you can feel like a guest at your own party? Planning ahead is your best friend. The less time you have to spend in the kitchen, the more time you’ll have to enjoy yourself with the people you love. These tips and tricks will help you throw a stress-free gathering like a pro.
Start planning early
6-8 weeks in advance: Pick a date. Being flexible will ensure you find a date that works best for most people, if not all.
Create your guestlist. The best dinner parties are usually those where guests have a range of backgrounds and interests.
Select party invitations. A unique design will help set the tone for your party, whether sophisticated, casual, a special theme, or something else. Don’t forget to include R.S.V.P details like your phone number, e-mail address and deadline, if necessary. It will help you plan the amount of food and drinks you’ll need.
Create a menu that will wow the crowd
4 weeks in advance: Decide what to serve and cook a test meal to make sure everything works. Don’t use your dinner party to try something for the first time. To avoid unexpected requests, ask your guests about allergies, intolerances, and other dietary restrictions so that you can create a menu that works for everyone.
Once your menu is confirmed, check that you have the appropriate dishware available. Use nice serving dishs for starters, a special basket for bread, little bowls to provide butter for the bread etc. Want to mix it up? You could go for unusual serving dishes and mix modern with vintage pieces.
Decide on alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic drink options. If you’re not a wine expert, get advice from your guests!
Sugar, spice and all things nice. What’s better than a stunning dessert to finish your evening in style? A crunchy-and-custardy crème brûlée or a raspberry cheesecake are sure to impress.
Think decorations and dishware
2 weeks in advance: Think about decor. Eye-catching details don’t have to be expensive. There are a lot of creative and clever ideas for DIY decorations. Explore Pinterest or Instagram for ideas.
Also make sure that you have enough dishes, glasses, and silverware.
Now is also a good time to send your guests a party reminder. A text or email should suffice.
Design the perfect seating plan and a music playlist to set the mood
1 week in advance: Consider your guests’ personalities and try to seat them in a way that will generate good conversations. Make sure everyone has enough space.
Create your favorite soundtrack, if you don’t have one already. However, the tunes shouldn’t overpower stimulating dinner conversations- guests shouldn’t have to yell in order to hear eachother.
Go grocery shopping
3 days in advance: Buy as many groceries as you can in advance, and prepare a list of foods you’ll need to buy fresh the day of, such as fish, meat, bread, vegetables, fruits and flowers.
Do as much as you can the day before
1 day in advance: Prepare decorations, set the table and prep the kitchen. Think about which bits you can do beforehand that will take the stress out of hosting. If your dessert needs to sit before being served, you could make it the night before.
Start cooking early
The day of: Think generously about how much time you’ll need to cook everything and then add an hour. If something doesn’t go as planned, you want to have some buffer time to fix it.
Now, it’s time to finalize decorations, set out snacks, and prepare the drinks. You can also dim the lights and start the music.
A drink station where guests can serve themselves when they arrive, eases your workload. Include alcoholic and non-alcoholic options as well as mixers, ice and utensils. Don’t forget to have water available as well.
Greet your guests and let the fun begin
Party time: Wait for all guests to arrive and give them time to get comfortable. Give arriving guests a clear destination and reserve certain small tasks in the kitchen for early birds.
Good conversation is your dinner party’s bread and butter. A great way to introduce your guests to one another is to share interesting facts about the person. That makes it easier to get your guests to talk to one another and avoids awkward silences.
Flowing from different areas of your home lets your guests stretch their legs and switch up conversation partners. One suggestion is to serve appetizers in the living room, dinner in your dining room and dessert in the backyard.
You’ve done everything you can to prepare, so now just let go and have fun. It is a party after all! And just remember- it’s perfectly okay not to be perfect. Chances are, your guests won’t even notice anything that didn’t go as planned.