There could be a variety of reasons why you’ve never hosted a dinner party. Did you only recently move into your first apartment or home? Perhaps hosting isn’t your idea of fun? But now, hours of cooking shows are starting to change your mind.
Whatever the reason, it’s time to crawl out of your shell and give your friends and family a great opportunity to socialise. That said, you’ll have to arrange everything from drinks to healthy vegan snacks and if you’re not sure where to start, this article is for you.
First Things First
For your first dinner party, you don’t want to invite everyone you’ve ever met. Rather, having between four and six guests is a good starting point. It’s easier to prepare for six guests than it is for 20. Ideally, everyone should already have met each other before to avoid any awkward silent moments.
A few basic pointers to consider before you get going include:
- Pick a date and check with your guests if it suits everyone.
- Advise everyone at least three to four weeks in advance. If the best date is sooner than three weeks, don’t panic. Our guide will get you ready well in advance.
- Be sure to check everyone’s dietary restrictions as not everyone eats meat or drinks alcohol.
- Experience has taught us that Fridays and Saturdays work best to fit with most people’s work schedules, but it depends on your crowd.
- Create an invitation. The good news is that you don’t have to post invites as in the old days. Simply use an app to create a stylish invite to make your guests feel special (and to make it appear as though you know what you’re doing).
Start Your Prep in Advance
For your first dinner, advance preparation is key. Here we’re referring to apartment prep, food prep and mental prep. Let’s see what you should do in each section:
- Apartment prep: Thoroughly clean the rooms or spaces the guests will be in. Usually, it’s the living room, dining area, bathroom and kitchen. Make sure you have enough hand towels and necessary toiletries in your bathroom.
- Food prep: Decide on a menu. Incorporate all the aspects of your guests’ dietary needs. Be sure to include vegan treats or snacks for those trying to watch their figures. Our experts have a cheating tip for you: Unless you’re specifically cooking a signature dish, take the pressure off of cooking by ordering food from a meal delivery service. Assess the food beforehand to ensure it’s to your standard.
- Mental prep: Hosting your first dinner party can have you experiencing everything from stress and excitement to dread. Simply do a few breathing exercises to calm your nerves.
Set the Scene
Here we’re referring to your dining area. What decorations do you need to match your theme? If you aren’t using a specific theme, use neutral décor, and use these few pointers:
- Opt for fresh flowers in your entrance area as well as on the dining table.
- Use lightly scented candles to create the mood–floating candles in a stylish bowl of water works well. Another alternative is to drape or string fairy lights across the ceiling or wall closest to your dining table.
- Create a playlist of a variety of enjoyable music.
- Do a practice run a week before to make sure everything can be set up the way you anticipate.
- Ensure that you have enough cutlery, dinner plates, glassware and napkins.
- Sit at the dinner table and play different scenarios out in your head. If a guest needs salt, is it accessible? If a guest needs another napkin, are there extras on the table?
- Buy yourself an apron with a snazzy image or message on to create the impression that you’re on top of your game.
- Buy wine, cocktail drinks and a few non-alcoholic beverages to create a suitable drinking list for everyone – Remember to chill your drinks a few hours before the guests arrive.
- Give your space a final clean the night before, and to avoid being stressed, set the tables the morning of the dinner party.
- If you’re cooking, start in advance to avoid running around at the last minute.
- Learn to improvise–if you forgot the salad tongs at your mom’s house, use your fanciest dishing up spoon.
- Light candles, put music on and have drinks ready a few minutes before guests arrive.
Dinner parties can be a fun way for friends and family to connect—especially when people’s busy schedules don’t make it easy to catch up. The trick is to make it look like you know what you’re doing until you actually do.
Fortunately, it’s not that difficult. You’ll learn your own tips and tricks with each dinner you host. Share some of it below to help other budding hosts.
Angela is a senior editor at Dreniq News. She has written for many famous news agencies.