The first principle of dinner party planning is that guests and the host tend to enjoy simple dinners the most. So always make an effort to keep things simple. It will put less strain on your budget and nerves, and you’ll have more time to spend with your guests.
Here are a few essential tips to keep in mind.
1. Always plan ahead. Whether you’re making dinner for two or 200, planning ahead will simplify the process. Finalize your guest list and decide on a theme early. As a general rule, try to start planning at least one month in advance to give your guests time to save the date and prepare for whatever theme you establish.
2. Consider your guests’ needs above everything else. Serving beef roast with Thai peanut sauce may sound great in theory; but it’s not ideal if your guests are vegetarian, have a peanut allergy or are reluctant to try exotic food. Always attempt to ask your guests in advance if they have any specific dietary requirements, and then plan your menu options accordingly.
3. Plan your menu in-line with your cooking and baking skills. Again, try to keep things simple. No one expects you to whip up Cotriade or Confit de Canard or mille-feuilles with creme Chantilly unless you tell them that’s what will be on the menu. It’s always best to be realistic with respect to your culinary skills. Over committing yourself to prepare recipes you haven’t already mastered can be a recipe for disaster.
4. There’s nothing in the rule book that says you can’t serve deli foods or high-quality take-out. With enough planning, you can even honor one of your guests by making him or her the cook or barbecue master for the night. If you plan to handle all the cooking, try to prepare as much as possible in advance. You can pre-cook or pre-bake some dishes the night before so that they can be easily reheated just before your guests settle down at the dinner table.
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. This is the one tip most people forget. You’re planning a party… not a funeral. A successful party has food that complements great conversation. No one will judge you for burning the bread if they’re laughing and having a great time. This is why wine was invented. So lighten up and enjoy spending the evening with friends. They’re at your dinner party because they like spending time with you.
If you have a great party planning tip you’d like to share, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!
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Photo credit: Jmgallo – Cindy’s Party Potatoes