What’s the secret to throwing a truly unforgettable dinner party? Is it a menu of haute cuisine? A carefully curated guest list, with seating plans designed to pair up scintillating storytellers and Bon vivants?
What type of music should you play — fusion jazz, baroque, bossa nova, the soundtrack from Amelie? Should you serve cocktails first, then wine, or just wine? Oooh, maybe champagne?
Relax! Unless you are throwing a formal state dinner — or hosting your future inlaws — there’s no need to be quite so extra. We’ll walk you through five great tips for planning a dinner party and making sure it is memorable for all the right reasons!
1. The Guest List
Good news: you are not a Jane Austen character. You don’t need to worry about having a good mix of eligible bachelors and demure young ladies with dowries. There’s no need to agonize over whether seating Mrs. Dalhousie next to Captain McCarthy will upset Lady Wimpleton.
That said, definitely give some thought to the relationships between your guests. If they have all met, are they convivial and compatible? If you’re introducing a new friend into your inner sanctum, consider having at least one other guest who isn’t yet part of your in-crowd.
As for seating, do make the effort to pair up like-minded people, or those who would enjoy one another’s differences. This isn’t the time to force your racist, Republican Uncle Fred to get along with your gender-non-conforming polyamorous neighbors.
2. The Music
Music at a dinner party should set the mood — but not dominate it. Choose something unobtrusive. You needn’t stoop to Muzak, but it’s hard to go wrong with instrumental jazz or classical.
Steer clear of singalong favorites, party anthems, and anything that would raise eyebrows or ruffle feathers. Spotify has oodles of dinner-party playlists, in a variety of genres.
3. The Food
This isn’t the time to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients or techniques. Keep the food simple, and do as much prep as possible ahead of time. Not only will you be less stressed, but your guests are more likely to enjoy something straightforward. A simple roast chicken, hearty vegetarian chili, beef stew with crusty bread, or even a fun and casual taco bar are all crowd-pleasers.
It’s good manners to serve food that is an allergen- and diet-friendly. Double check with guests ahead of time about any sensitivities or preferences.
4. The Drinks
It’s likely that your guests will bring a bottle of wine or six-pack of their favorite cider. But being a good host demands that you have plenty on hand in case they don’t. There’s no need to whip up craft cocktails, but a few types of hard liquor and mixers is also nice to have on hand.
Don’t forget a selection of tasty non-alcoholic drinks for those who are abstaining.
5. The Secret to Planning a Dinner Party
We hinted at it above, but the true secret to hosting a successful get-together is…to relax and enjoy yourself. Trying too hard often results in a dinner party that just isn’t your style. Guests will pick up on your nerves, and the evening will be awkward and stilted. Leave the formal occasions to places that do it well, like Avante Banquets (https://www.avantebanquets.com/).
Planning a dinner party can be stress-free! Just prepare food you love to eat, put on music that you enjoy, and pour yourself a drink. If you’re having fun, chances are your guests will be too!
Do you have a never-fail dinner party recipe to share? What’s some of your favorite music to play when you entertain? Let us know in the comment section!