Hosting a dinner party for your family and friends doesn’t always go how you expect. In your head, you’ll have hors d’oeuvres ready right at 7 p.m. Your guests will enjoy these finger foods with a beer, cocktail or glass of wine. You’ll serve your main course around 8 p.m., and so on.
Your night may be perfectly planned out in your mind, but let’s be realistic: How often does it actually go according to plan?
There’s no way to guarantee the exact evening you’ve dreamed about, but with these smart tips, you’ll know how to plan a dinner party and make sure your friends and family have a great time celebrating the occasion. Most importantly, though, you won’t have to stress about being a good host, and you’ll be able to enjoy the evening, too!1) Be as organized as possible
Your best bet for hosting a great, family-friendly dinner party (without the stress) is to be as organized as possible. Some things are out of your control, of course, but the more you plan, the smoother your night will go.
Properly timing your party – from when you plan to present dishes to when you’ll prepare them – goes a long way in keeping you on track. After all, once you get behind, you’ll be rushing to get caught up the rest of the evening.2) Include both hot and cold dishes in your dinner party menu
Your first step in planning a dinner party is deciding what to serve. You want to incorporate both hot and cold dishes so that you won’t have too many hot dishes “fighting” for kitchen time.3) Use all aspects of your kitchen
Your kitchen only has so much room. You only have so much space in your oven, and only so much time to cook. Take advantage of your stove top, grill, slow cooker and other cooking means, in addition to your oven. Make good use of your refrigerator for cold dishes as well, or even for dishes you can warm later.
4) Keep dishes warm throughout your party
Setting your oven to a low temperature or using a warming drawer is essential to timing your meals and serving hot dishes hot. If you don’t have a warming drawer, set your oven below 200 degrees Fahrenheit and store hot dishes there until they’re ready to be served.
5) Partially prepare foods in advance
Not everything can go into your oven or stove at once. To serve dishes as freshly as possible, you may wish to present them as soon as they’re done cooking, rather than keeping them warm for an extended period of time. If so, get a dish started – cooking it only partially – and finish it later, closer to when you plan to serve it.
6) Prepare drinks beforehand
It’s not all about the food. A good cocktail is often the centerpiece of a great dinner party. Save yourself any hassle when your guests arrive and prepare a pitcher of the cocktail you want to serve long before your party starts.
7) Let your guests serve themselves
A buffet-style celebration is not only easier on you, but also keeps you from missing out on the party and needing to run back and forth between your kitchen and the table.
8) Plan for the kids
Don’t forget about your youngest guests. Setting up a kids’ craft room is a great way to keep them occupied and entertained after they’re done eating. They’ll be finished quickly; plan ahead and let them play so the adults are able to enjoy your lovely dinner.
9) Stay away from the common allergies
These days, food allergies are increasingly common. Why let them enter the equation? Try not to use any ingredients that people are commonly allergic to (dairy and nuts, for example).
With these nine tips, you’ll not only be better prepared to host your dinner party, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the evening. Hosting shouldn’t be all work. You should be able to play too.