What better way than to catch up and relax with loved ones than over a beautiful dinner in your own home? Whether it’s a relaxed meal with friends and family or a more formal affair, throwing a great dinner party is no small feat. We all have that friend in our social circle that’s the perfect host and can make entertaining look effortless. But there’s a lot that goes into making sure your guests are having a good time from creating the right ambience with music and preparing ice-breaker activities to ease guests on top of serving delicious food.
We’ve compiled 5 essential elements with tips to help you throw a successful and stress-free dinner party.
Plan A Loose Timeline
After you’ve decided the main elements of your dinner party - including the date, the number of guests, the budget and what type of party it will be - it’s important to consider the overall arc of the evening, so that you’re prepared for whatever is thrown at you. Break it down into three parts - a beginning, middle and end to your event. As guests arrive this means drinks, light snacks and music. Then the evening would transition to dinner with flowing conversation. Finally, it’s tea, coffee, dessert - and maybe even some entertainment like a game of Pictionary or Charades.
As a host, it’s important to gauge the mood of your guests and not rush them to the next phase of the evening if everyone is enjoying themselves.
Create A Warm and Relaxing Atmosphere
Share Common Points of Interest
Is there anything more awkward than not knowing anyone at a party? After greeting guests upon arrival make sure to introduce your guests to one another. A good host would bring up any common interests guests may share. It’s important to create a feeling of connectivity so that your guests feel comfortable and can enjoy themselves throughout the evening.
Choose A Solid Playlist
Music is a wonderful way to instantly create a relaxed atmosphere. It’s perfect for filling awkward silences and makes people feel ready to have a good time. If you’re stumped on what songs to choose, check out this playlist on Spotify that will set the ambience you need.
Overstock Your Bar
Nothing kills a party faster than running out of drinks and ice. You don’t need to get your guests sloshed to have a good time, but it never hurts to have a selection of alcohols, such as wine, beer, whisky and gin. Make sure to also have sparkling water or other alternative refreshments for guests that don’t drink alcohol. If you’re entertaining closer to the holidays, it’s always fun to also serve a themed cocktail that can be mixed in advance.
Cook What You Know
Light Snacks & The Main Meal
You don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to throw a memorable dinner party. We get it, you want to impress your guests with showstoppers like a Beef Welling or a crispy slow-roasted pork belly. But is it really a good idea to serve a 15-step dish for the first time? Save yourself unnecessary stress and stick to recipes that are already part of your repertoire for the main meal. Double brownie points if you stick to recipes that don’t require constant stirring or checking so that you’re not missing out on all the fun with your guests.
You can still experiment with new recipes, but we suggest doing so with light snacks and canapes. Bruschetta is a great crowd-pleaser and will keep your friends and family from over-indulging in the wine to fight off hunger pangs. Need some ideas for nibbles for your dinner party? Check out these classic crowd-pleasers.
Dessert is a must for any successful dinner party. Even if it’s a relaxed occasion with close friends, skipping dessert is a huge no-no. Whether it’s made from scratch or store-bought, everyone loves dessert. Pavlova is our go-to dressed up with fresh whipped cream and piles of fresh fruit.
Respect Dietary Restrictions
When sending out your invites don’t forget to ask if any of your guests have any dietary restrictions. The last thing you want at your dinner party is a guest feeling left out from forgetting to ask this simple question beforehand.
Stay Positive & Flexible
Don’t be hard on yourself if the evening doesn’t unfold according to your plans. Is your cake is still soggy and uncooked in the middle? Pull out some ice cream from the freezer and serve with fresh fruit and get on with your night. Burnt the main course so much that it’s inedible? Be flexible and order a pizza. Your guests will appreciate your efforts and it always makes for an amusing story later down the track!
There are bound to be surprises that crop up throughout the evening, but it’s how you handle them as a host that will set the tone for the party.
Remember To Have Fun, Too
Even with the right music or a flowing conversation, if you’re feeling stressed your guests will feel it too. An anxious host can make for an awkward and tense dinner party, so take a deep breath and enjoy yourself, too. Give yourself moments to enjoy the company of your friends and family and let them help you throughout the evening.
There is nothing better than good food and good company. The wonderful thing about dinner parties is that no matter where you live, how small your kitchen is, no matter your budget, you can always invite friends and family over and make an event of it. The past year has certainly been a rollercoaster of a year, but if anything it has taught us to appreciate the small moments we have together. Dinner parties don’t need to be a stressful affair, so enjoy these delicious moments with your loved ones over an evening of fun and food!