Now that people are kind of, sort of, getting back together again, it might be time to consider hosting a dinner party. You haven’t seen your friends and family in a while, and a dinner party is a great setting for a relaxed get-together. Assuming you plan ahead, it’s a great way to get together in a relaxed setting with people whose company you enjoy. The key to enjoying the evening yourself is to make it easy! Here are a few tips and tricks to make things fun for everyone, including the host.
24 hours ahead – menu plan and grocery shop (this allows time to run back to the market if you forget some crucial item).
2 – 4 hours ahead – prep your appetizer, salad, and main course and place in the fridge.
2 hours ahead – get your meal prep dishes done and out of the way.
1.5 hours ahead – set the table; consider linens and fresh flowers depending on your crowd.
1 hour ahead – throw a meal in the oven and get yourself ready.
Go time – enjoy your guests!
First, plan your menu with as many make-ahead items as possible. Think of things like a charcuterie board that can be removed from the fridge when your guests arrive so they can mingle and munch for a bit before being ushered to sit down. Similarly, a casserole or other dish that can be in the oven while your guests are on their way over (enchiladas are typically a crowd-pleaser) can make life much easier as you can devote yourself to your guests instead of your stovetop. A salad, sans dressing, is another make-ahead dish that can be removed from the refrigerator when it is time to dine. If you feel like channeling your inner Martha Stewart, you can have a dessert ready to throw in the oven as dinner starts as well. That will allow the delectable scents to waft through your home as your guests are wrapping up their meal.
With all the make-ahead items, you should be able to have most of your prep dishes washed and put away before your guests arrive, which removes a great deal of stress – you won’t have people arriving in your kitchen to witness the aftermath of a tornado. Furthermore, it means a clean slate for post-meal dish duty, which is every host’s dream.
At about this point, you should be ready to greet your guests. Hopefully, you’ve built in a little time to kick your feet up in advance so you are nice and relaxed to greet them upon arrival. This is also a great time to put on some music and set the mood. Once your guests arrive, offer them a drink and maybe an appetizer and encourage them to relax.
Now if this sounds like too much work, don’t do it! The true purpose should be the connection and you should not let hosting a perfect party get in between you and those whose company you enjoy. Order some take-out and get-together. Either way, you won’t regret it.