Hosting a dinner party can be intimidating and stressing for some, but it doesn’t have to be. We will give you some ideas on how you can have a stress-free dinner party while dazzling your guests and enjoying the dinner yourself.
The real secret for a stress-free Dinnerplan is to plan ahead. Getting done with most of the preparation in advance is the best way to ensure you will be able to enjoy the company of your guests.
- Choose the menu with anticipation. For hosting a perfect party, the best is to choose recipes you have prepared already a couple of times. You should feel comfortable with the cooking process so you don’t find yourself staring at your blue soup while the recipe you used had a photo of green soup as end-result.
- Make an inventory of your tableware and cookware, so you know if you need to get additional dishes, glasses or silverware, or if you need to iron that tablecloth that has been lying in your closet for a while (you know, the one you keep for special occasions).
- Make an inventory of your kitchen closet and see what you have and what should go on your grocery list to make your menu come to life.
- Choose the drinks you want to offer. It is wise to have bottles of water, red and white wine, some sodas, coffee and tea available as a starting point. If you want to offer more elaborated drinks, like cocktails, aperitifs or digestives, make sure you have additional glasses and ice.
A secret to enjoy most of your dinner party is to cook ahead as much as possible, so you are mostly ready with your food and drinks by the moment your guests arrive. Cooking while your guests are enjoying the dinner is not fun for you, nor for your guests.
- When putting together your menu, choose at least one course which can be prepared the day before, so you reduce the amount of things you have to do on the day of the dinner itself. There are several dishes that can be prepared the day before and keep developing their flavors overnight. That way you make better use of your time, but don’t compromise on taste or quality. Stews, slow cooked meats, braises, casseroles and pot pies can be cooked the day before. Also most desserts can be prepared in advance.
- If you cannot finish the dish the day before, then try to prepare as much as you can to reduce the time it takes to finalize on the day of the dinner party. For example, chop veggies and marinate your food the day before. Organize the small things like arranging flowers and setting the table.
- It is a lot of fun to cook with someone else, be it your spouse, children, significant other or friend. Shopping and cooking with one or more people is a great team effort that is excellent for bonding. Make sure you divide the tasks beforehand so it’s clear who will do what. Put on some music, sing along with the songs and have a great time!
The Hosting Moment
- Do not forget yourself. As important as making your guests feel at home and preparing a delicious meal, is being in the right attitude and a good mood. No matter if you cook by yourself or with someone else, cook with a nice glass of wine, put on music that makes you happy, put on comfy clothes and shoes.
- Have an empty dishwasher, so you are ready to put all the dirty dishes as they come. That way your after-party won’t be a nightmare. Don’t start cleaning when your guests are still there though. Enjoy their presence and leave the cleaning for later.
- Make the necessary arrangements so your time in the kitchen is as short as possible and don’t give yourself too many tasks. Place a table with drinks and ice so people can serve their drinks themselves (help people serving their first drink and tell them the bar is there if they want something else). If offering cocktails/aperitifs opt for simple options. Do as the French do and serve your aperitif with some olives, nuts or cherry tomatoes, and use this time to finalize or warm the dishes you will serve during dinner.
- Plate the appetizers and desserts dishes in advance if possible.
- A nice table can add to the whole experience and create an unforgettable experience for your guests. Light unscented candles, put some soft music, place small flower arrangements on the table (in a way that everyone can still make eye contact with each other), use a special tablecloth and use your favorite set of dishes to serve your table.
- Finally, enjoy your dinner and keep a happy, positive attitude even if things do not go according to the plan (nothing ever does, and it gives room for the best stories!).