Hosting a dinner party is something we all love to do, but doesn’t it seem like there’s a friend who always puts on a show that the rest of us can never measure up to? Well, luckily for you you’ll never have to envy their efforts again because we’ve put together everything you need to know. Take a look at the wise words that follow, get busy in the kitchen, and then put your feet up at the end of the evening as your guests go home happy. Here’s how you make it happen.
Choose a menu that offers plenty of variety
If you opt for a menu that’s got plenty of variety then you’ll be able to cater for just about every taste. Going solely in one direction works when you’re cooking for the family because you know what everyone likes. Doing the same with guests will always be a case of hit or miss, and it only takes one miss to put a dampener on all your hard work in the kitchen. You want everyone to go home full and happy, so put some thought into how you can create a menu with a theme, but one which allows everyone’s taste buds to experience something different with each course.
Take the time to check if your guests have any special requests
Special requests are increasingly common in a day and age where everyone is hyper-aware of their dietary intake. There’s nothing more deflating than a guest telling you they can’t eat your main because they’ve given up dairy, so make sure it doesn’t happen to you by being proactive. Sending a group message over Whatsapp, or a quick note with the invitations is a great way to get on the front foot. Most people will happily eat anything you put in front of them, but you still need to cater to those with intolerances and more specialist diets.
Choose drinks that complement the range of flavors on the plate
It’s no use having a great wine list and mediocre found, just as it’s no use having incredible dishes and cheap wine no one likes. Get them both right by finding a vintage that perfectly complements the flavors on the plate. You don’t want to go overboard and have something that dominates, you just need a tasty, fruit companion. Give it a little bit of thought and you’ll have some fresh ideas before you know it.
Practice your menu at least once during the week before the big night
There’s a lot to be said for a dry run a few days before the big night. It’ll give you the opportunity to fine-tune the seasoning and cooking times, and it’ll also give you bags of confidence when you’re doing it for real. The pressure will be on when you have half a dozen of your friends waiting for their dinner, so give yourself the best possible chance of nailing it by practicing beforehand.
Make sure your kitchen is up to standard
Checking the kitchen is in perfect working order isn’t something most people think to do, but it can be a real lifesaver on the night. Make sure that your oven timer is working, give the preheat a thorough check, and make sure your ventilation system does a great job of removing smoke and steam from the kitchen. All these little bits and pieces of preparation may sound like overkill, but they’ll save you so much time and effort once your guests arrive. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did it once you look at the full table of people looking expectantly at you for their first course.
Give some thought to the seating plan before everyone arrives
The seating plan is one of those things you can easily forget, but it’s something your guests will expect. If they ask you where you want them and you’re just staring blankly then it’s not going to look great, is it? Make sure everyone is sat near someone you know they’ll get on with, and arrange the room so everyone can see you. You’re the host, and if people can’t see you whilst they’re eating, they won’t feel as important as they’d like.
Pick out some mood music that you can have on in the background
Music is a great way to set the mood for the evening ahead, and it also masks any awkward periods of silence when everyone is settling in. Take the time to get it right and you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the moment. You’re looking for something with poise and subtlety that puts the room at ease. Leave the loud guitar solos or electronic music for another time.
Thoroughly tidy up the dining room before you set the table
Nobody wants to have to squeeze into the room past a pile of clutter that’s obviously not meant to be there. The day before your guests arrive, you’ll want to survey the room and remove anything non-essential. It’s all about putting on a show, so don’t worry if you have to dump a few things in the spare room where they’ll be out of sight. Even the best food can be ruined to a point by settings that leave a lot to the imagination. Put the work in the day before and you’ll be so much prouder of what you achieve.
Leave plenty of time for the sweet treats at the end duct
Last but not least, what about dessert? You don’t want this to the question your guests ask you as you hint that it’s getting late and you have to be up early in the morning. You don’t want to schedule every minute of the evening, but you do want to plan when you serve each of the courses. Don’t leave so long between courses that you run out of time, and don’t rush things so people can’t enjoy themselves. Find the right balance and everyone will leave happy and excited to do it all over again.