Whether you’re celebrating a birthday or other special occasion, or if you’ve just revamped your home and have made some modifications, such as assembling flat pack kitchens or want to show of your new dining suit ensemble, hosting a dinner party does not need to be a stressful or awkward event. It can be something as simple as wanting a get-together with friends to mark a special occasion or simply to get the whole gang together in one place, there are some easy ways to ensure it all flows.
Firstly. Relax. These people are your loved ones and are coming to see you and your family. You know each other, they don’t care about fancy menus or expensive table settings. There’s no need to cause yourself undue stress by attempting complicated or deluxe meals if that’s not your usual style.
Consider who you’ll invite. Ideally, all your guests should be able to mingle easily without conflict or unease. It might be nice to feel you can invite everyone, but if there are people who truly clash, then this can be potentially be difficult or award for everyone and you may need to make a choice about who you invite to this dinner party and which one you ask to another event. Be mindful of how many guests you include. To many individuals may make it arduous for you to spend quality time with each, and it can become quite expensive with a large gathering. Keeping it relatively small can assist in promoting a sacred and intimate gathering.
Send out the invitations in a format the guests are accustomed with. Include a RSVP date and contact number, and ensure all the relevant information is included. It’s important to be mindful of the timing to send out details of your event. To early and people tend to forget, to short notice and people are often already booked or busy. Three weeks is often a decent amount of time to accommodate most people. Follow up or check with guests around the week and a half mark.
Deduce an appropriate time. Will people be bringing children? Is it a weekday when there are obligations such as work the following day or is it the weekend, where the timing can be more relaxed? If guests are bringing children, you may need to make sure there are age-appropriate activities set aside for them in a safe area to play and potentially ensure the region of your home where the majority of the party will be held is child friendly. Do parents need an area where their little mites can rest or sleep if needed? Will the youngsters be eating at the same time as other guests or do they require an earlier meal and a separate table to consume their food at? If high chairs are available, do you have them or will parents be bringing them? If parents have very young children, it might be easier to put aside seating in a section of the table where the parents have more space to move with the children or make an exit if necessary.
Decide ahead what will be on the menu. Take into account guests’ special dietary requirements and allergies. Have a variety of foods to cater for most palates without breaking the budget. It’s usually best to have a little more than a little less with your main meal to save someone missing out or going hungry.
An idea is to have some small appetizers or nibbles for the guests upon arriving, followed by the main meal and then dessert. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time. It can be an exhausting process spending the entire time in the kitchen preparing meals, and this may cause you un-necessary pressure with time frames for meal preparation and attempting to interact with your loved ones simultaneously. After all, you want to be able to enjoy the party too. Decide if you will be serving alcohol or have guests bring their own. Light refreshments such as water and tea and coffee should be available for your companions throughout the gathering. If you do provide drinks, allow a variety to cater for most tastes.
Consider where in your home is the best place for the meal to be served. Is there enough room in your dining area or is the weather notice enough to host outdoors, without being plagued by mosquitoes? Contemplate matters such as access to restrooms, if the lighting, ambience and temperature of the area will be comfortable for a few hours. The location should be accessible and with enough area to move around without your guests feeling boxed in or potentially becoming over heated or cold.
Assess whether you want to have games and activities as part of the event, or if you will simply have free range talking and mingling. Generally, if there are celebrations or guests who are not familiar with each other, games can be a great ice breaker.
Don’t over plan. Enjoy the natural flow and allow things to unfold and develop naturally. Remember, you’re there to be part of the celebrations and memories, not to structure everything. Spend a bit of time with each person. Mingle and appreciate the ambience, participate in the games and fun and relax as best you can.
Have a wind-up plan. This might be coffee after dessert or a plan of action with your partner or housemate to conclude the evening. As a pre-exemptive measure, put an end time on the invitation.
Thank your visitors for coming, and be polite with your guidance if you’re attempting to get the last few out the door. This might be by cleaning up the dishes, turning the music of or simply saying “Oh my goodness, look at the time. We’ve kept you long enough” and stand up.
Clean up the night before. Rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. As much as it may have been a long night, you’ll be grateful there’s no mess in the morning. Food residue tends to stick to plates and cutlery, and can be laborious to remove if left over night.
But above all, have fun and enjoy the night.