The Logistics of Planning a Successful Dinner Party
Dinner parties are fun and enjoyable. If you like to host, they make for a fantastic excuse to bring out the fine china and enjoy time together with friends and family. But before sending out the invitations, you’ll want to think through some of the logistical aspects of hosting such an event.
5 Tips for Dinner Party Success
No two dinner parties are the same. So while we can’t provide advice on how to approach all of the intricate details of your big event, we can give you a big picture overview to help streamline the planning process. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Meal Planning
“Planning a menu is essentially a balancing act of colors, textures, temperatures and flavors on the plate, along with the constraints of time, budget, occasion and season,” Anna Watson Carl writes for TastingTable.com.
If that sounds a little intimidating, we’re with you! But it doesn’t have to be a monumental challenge. With a strong purpose and willingness to be flexible, you can plan a meal that’s beautiful, aesthetically pleasing, and versatile.
There should be a couple of main dish options for guests to choose from. Ideally, you’ll serve a meat dish and a vegetarian option. From there, you want at least three sides – preferably a couple of vegetables and a starch – bread, and a soup and/or salad. Dessert is also an integral element of the meal. Making two or three options will ensure everyone finds something they want.
2. Meal Preparation
If you do a decent job of planning your meal ahead of time (at least a week and a half out), you’ll find that meal preparation goes fairly quickly.
For dinner parties with lots of variety in cooking time and preparation needs, creating a schedule like this one will help tremendously.
When you invite people to your house, you become responsible for the well-being of guests while they’re on your property. Take a few minutes to walk around your home, yard, and other living areas to make sure there aren’t any dangerous conditions that could pose a threat to the safety of your guests.
Stairs, railings, wet areas, curbs, holes, and tree stumps are examples of common problem areas. If you notice any issues, have them remedied as soon as possible.
Depending on what type of property you live in and whether guests will be walking or driving, parking may need to be given some thought. If your driveway is too small for all of your guests to park, consider asking neighbors for permission to park on their properties. (The sooner you think about parking, the more options you’ll have.)
Finally, think a bit about ambiance and the feeling you want to give your guests. Chances are, you want your dinner party to be relaxed and sophisticated. There are a couple of specific ways you can do this.
Lighting is the first important ingredient of ambiance. If light is too harsh or bright, people will feel uneasy and less likely to let their guards down. If light is soft and warm, guests are much more easily disarmed.
“Dim the lights and light lots of candles for the perfect setting,” designer Monelle Totah recommends. “Unscented candles where food is being served, beautiful scented candles throughout the other rooms, starting in the entry to welcome your guests to the powder room and living room can leave a beautiful memory of the evening.”
Music is the second major ingredient. For a relaxed feel, choose a playlist with some soft beats, jazz, and/or peaceful piano. Play it very lightly in the background so that people don’t feel like they’re competing with the speakers when they talk.
Be a Proactive Host
Some parties and events are more casual than others. So while you may be able to throw together a last-minute barbecue for the big game, a dinner party isn’t something you can afford to procrastinate with. By thinking ahead and making proactive decisions about things like food, seating, parking, and safety, you can increase your chances of having a successful party. You’ll also find it easier to relax and enjoy your role as host (as opposed to stressing out about the details).
Heed the advice outlined in this article and reap the rewards of an enjoyable dinner party that your friends and family talk about for years to come!