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Mar 31 2016

Dinner Party 101: Six Tips for Planning the Perfect Evening

By Admin

Dinner Party 101: Six Tips for Planning the Perfect Evening

 

A dinner party is one of the best ways to get a group of people together, from longtime friends looking to catch up, to people who only know each other in passing. Of course, planning a perfect dinner party isn't quite as easy going to one. If you're going to host, you've got some serious work ahead of you. Use these six tips to help you plan a dinner party that your guests will be talking about for weeks afterward.

  1. Get Your Guest List Right

To throw a successful dinner party, you need to spend some time on your guest list. Think about how your guests will get along and what they might talk about. Do you have two friends who don't know each other, who both love modern art, French wine, or baseball? Seat them next to each other at your dinner party.

You'll also want a mix of people who know each other and those who don't. A group of old friends is fine, but make sure you invite newcomers in pairs. Ideally, you should have a group of people who don't know each other too well, so nobody feels out of place.

 2. Create Clear Invitations

Dinner parties can create confusion among guests. Are they supposed to bring a bottle of wine? Is the dinner party a potluck? When should they arrive for cocktails and when is dinner? These are questions most potential guests will have if you don't provide details on your invitation.

Deliver your invitations at least two weeks ahead of time. Three weeks would be even better if you're planning your party for a Friday or Saturday night, when people may have other obligations.

Ask guests to RSVP. This will give you time to send out last-minute invitations if you only have eight people to sit at a table for 10.

3. Have Drinks Ready

Cocktails and wine are a must at any dinner party, even if all of your guests don't partake. Some people make the deadly mistake of waiting until the appetizers or dinner is served to offer their guests drinks.

By the time your guests arrive, you should have white wine chilling, red wine ready to pour, and cocktails ready to mix. If you're expecting a large group, you may want to make cocktails in batches or serve them in a large punch bowl.

You don't want to spend the whole night behind the bar mixing Manhattans and martinis while your guests mingle without you.

 4. Appetizers are Essential

A dinner party isn't the time to go on a diet, and you certainly don't want your guests to feel underfed. That's one reason to have appetizers ready before your first guest walks in the door. You also want to give people something to do during those first awkward moments at a party, as well as whet their appetite for the delicious meal you have coming.

5. Plan Your Meal

If you're going to do the cooking yourself, stick to things you know how to make well. This is especially important if you don't consider yourself an excellent chef or aren't all that comfortable in the kitchen. Home cooks who insist on making something new for a dinner party should first try out their recipe a week ahead of time to make sure something else can be made if it doesn't work.

A salad, soup, main course, and dessert are usually sufficient; in many cases, you can even skip the soup. Choose dishes that contain seasonal ingredients that are fresh and easy to find at your grocery store or farmer's market.

6. Consider Hiring Help

Planning a dinner party on your own is certainly possible, but doing everything yourself may not be. There's a chance you could enlist a friend or two to help with the dishes, but you don't want to ask for volunteers behind the bar.

You might also want to consider hiring help in the kitchen. Catering services are often relatively affordable and can make dinner parties much easier, even for people who love to cook. If you don't cook often, a catering service is the only way to go.

Dinner parties can be a lot of fun, and planning one shouldn't turn you into a stressed-out mess. By following these six simple tips, you'll be able to relax and enjoy your party instead of sweating the details all night. After all, a dinner party is supposed to be fun for the host too!

By: Christopher Godwin

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