How to Plan & Host The Perfect Dinner PartyTo ensure your night goes without a hitch.

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Serving up the perfect dinner party needn’t be stressful; by following some basic guidelines, even the most novice host can achieve a flawless evening. Whether you are a hosting pro looking for some inspiration or you need all the help you can get – look to our guide and browse dinner party themes from all-out elegance to casual, discover planning advice to keep you calm and collected, and read our six ultimate hosting tips for the big night.

Choosing A Dinner Party Theme

Let’s start with some themes to help shape your dinner party. It’s important to have an underlying idea of what you want your dinner party to be like – something to tie everything together from the food and drinks menu to tableware and decorations. Not only is this likely to impress your guests, it will also make your life much easier when it comes to planning. From casual affairs to fun sharing ideas, here are our four dinner party themes guaranteed to impress.

Planning the Perfect Dinner Party

Once you’ve chosen your theme and have an idea of your menu, there is a still a little work to be done before you should start organising and prepping. From finalising your guest list to making sure you don’t over-do the spending, here are a few things to consider when planning the perfect dinner party.

Avoid Too Much Experimenting

Now is not the time to try out a 48-hour broth, bake a sourdough from scratch, or cook a joint of meat that you haven’t before. If you want to try something new, just make sure your menu comprises of a few dishes that you are confident with making as well as a few that take no time at all or are even mostly prepped when they are bought, such as nice bread or pre-prepped sauces. That way, if most of your time is spent experimenting, there are still some elements of the meal that are quick and stress-free.

Stick tT Your Guestlist

When it comes to the guest list, remember you are going to be catering for everyone – so less is more. If this is your first dinner party, we recommend keeping it nice and small and inviting up to five others so there will be six of you round the dinner table. Start by inviting close friends; you needn’t extend the invite or feel bad about turning down plus ones for a dinner party. Adding an extra person at the last minute will only add to your to do list, so save yourself the stress and stick to your guest list. If you’re a more experienced host, maybe you can manage a table of up to eight or ten – just keep in mind the menu you have chosen as ten fillet steaks soon uses up a good chunk of your budget for the night.

Decide Where To Spend and Where To Splurge

Make a list of what you need to execute your theme and ask yourself if you can use any tableware and linens that you already have. If your current crockery clashes with your theme, consider buying some basic white or neutral plates and bowls for the night that will match but won’t break the bank. It will be helpful to save on things like tableware if you’re going all out with quality ingredients and alcohol. However, there are some things that are worth investing in and quality wine glasses are one of them. We recommend splurging here and saving on wine by buying by the case.

Make Sure You’re Catering For Everyone

While we recommend checking any drinks preferences well ahead of your dinner party, sometimes things change in the lead up to or on the night. To ensure all of your guests feel well catered for, buy a couple of bottles of nice soft drinks and keep them chilled. These will also come in handy should anyone indulge in too many pre-dinner cocktails...

Start Planning Well Ahead Of Time

Planning in advance is the best move you can make if you have an upcoming dinner party. Make lists of ingredients, write down how long each course takes in terms of prepping, cooking and serving and give yourself plenty of time to allow for glitches (like not pre-heating the oven or guests arriving late). Also, try to do as much prepping, cooking and cleaning up before your guests arrive. There will inevitably be things to finish off on the night so why not make a timeline for the evening to keep yourself organised? Here are a few things to consider:

How long you need to set the table
When to chill drinks
How many courses you have
How long each course takes to prep and cook
When to heat dishes up
Time needed in between courses

Pay Attention to Finishing Touches

The finishing touches to your dinner party can sometimes be the details that your guests compliment and remember such as the plating up of the food, the music playing, the candle burning in the background or the flower arrangement. Consider these things well in advance to ensure they aren’t forgotten in the lead up to the night. .

Six Top Tips for Hosting a Dinner Party

Once you’ve chosen your theme and have an idea of your menu, there is a still a little work to be done before you should start organising and prepping. From finalising your guest list to making sure you don’t over-do the spending, here are a few things to consider when planning the perfect dinner party.

1. Wear an apron
Even with the most proficient prepping, things can still get busy in the kitchen – especially when you are catering for a few more people than normal. Protect your favourite garments and wear an apron while you’re finishing things off and serving your guests. You can thank us later...

2. Read the room
Once your guests have arrived and are settling in, consider whether you need to adjust the music volume or lighting. You don’t want your guests struggling to talk over your playlist while you’re busy in the kitchen or spilling their cocktail on your carpet due to dim lighting.

3. Provide condiments
You might think your food is perfectly seasoned – or that hot sauce isn’t usually served with salmon – but your guests are your main priority and one way to ensure they are satisfied is to provide them with their favourite condiments to enjoy your meal. So make sure salt, pepper and other sauces are laid out on the table.

4. Sit down to enjoy the meal
Make sure you have time to sit down and enjoy the food and company. Plan your prepping and serving so that you aren’t needed in the kitchen while your guests enjoy any of their courses – you deserve a chance to eat after all that hard work. Plus, it might make your guests feel uncomfortable to see you rushing back and forth from the kitchen while they dine.

5. Go with the flow
While it’s important to be prepared and plan so that the evening goes smoothly, it’s also okay if things change on the night. Once the guests have been fed, relax the schedule a little – if that means eating dessert away from the table while playing a game or raiding your drinks cabinet once the wine has ran out, so be it.

6. Enjoy yourself
And finally, our main tip is to enjoy yourself. Don’t let the night become a chore and keep things fun. If things don’t go to plan, laugh it off and if you’re stressing out about keeping on top of things, have your guests help you out by topping up the drinks or bringing some dishes out to the table.