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10 Tips For a Stress Free Dinner Party
Decide who to invite.
People generally have a few different groups of friends. The first of my 10 Tips For a Stress Free Dinner Party is to choose which group of friends you are inviting. College friends, work friends, mom friends, couples. Those groups don’t always mix well, so choose with caution. My advice would be to start out hosting with the group that you feel most comfortable with.
Find out if anyone has any allergies or aversions to certain foods.
There are so many allergies out there today, and some can be life threatening. I understand that some will say that it’s up to the person with allergies to let you know what they are. I believe that if you are inviting someone into your home that as the hostess, you should ask ahead of time. Also, it doesn’t hurt to find out if guests have aversions to any particular food. For example, I don’t eat shellfish. It isn’t an allergy issue, it’s because I don’t enjoy it.
Plan your menu ahead of time.
Make something you enjoy making. A dinner party isn’t the time to branch out and try new things. If your party has a theme, go with it. Otherwise, keeping to beef and chicken is usually a safe bet. There isn’t any reason that your perfect pot roast can’t be served at a dinner party. I’ve done that many times and guests have always enjoyed it. Fancy up the potatoes that go with it. Keep appetizers simple. A small cheese plate with different types of olives and perhaps some crusty bread is all you need. You don’t want to fill your guests up before dinner. This type of appetizer can also be mostly set up ahead of time saving you precious time.
Give guests a definitive RSVP Date.
Give guests a definitive RSVP date. For some reason people don’t often find it important to RSVP any longer. By giving them a definitive date you aren’t left wondering who is coming and who isn’t. Do keep in mind that you should have an extra plate or two available for guests of the invitees should they be so bold as to tack on a plus one to your invitation to them. Other guests may have last minute reasons to cancel. It all works out in the end.
Movie party? Wine theme? Mystery Night, or just plan dinner and drinks? If you are having a theme plan that in advance and pick up decor that matches your theme. Otherwise, a simple flower arrangement will be fine.
Start with set up the night before. Setting the table ahead of time is really helpful. I usually add little post it papers indicating which food goes on which dish. I get coffee ready to brew and tea available for after dinner, and make sure you have plenty of different sweeteners on hand along with creamer if you don’t normally have that in the house. Set up your bar if you’ve having one with glasses and an ice bucket, bottles of wine, a corkscrew, and cocktail napkins.
Shortly before guests arrive:
- 30 minutes before guests arrive start your playlist. Your playlist should include calmer music and should loop and play again after a couple of hours. Having this set and going will calm your nerves and have the mood set for any early arrivals.
- Place lemons and limes near the bar.
- Put out fresh ice.
- Uncork a red and a white.
- Light some candles and lower the lights. This makes for a more intimate atmosphere.
- Place your appetizer plate in a central location about 15 prior to your guests expected arrival. Don’t plan on replenishing it. The early bird gets the worm as they say, and they shouldn’t be arriving so late that they miss out. Make sure you have cocktail sized napkins and small plates available for guests to use.
Drop off stations:
Have places set up in advance for items guests may need to drop . Coats, umbrellas, wine, flowers (a few vases clean and within reach are a good idea), purses. You get the idea. Do this and people won’t be leaving items all over your nice, clean house.
Pour a glass of wine or a non-alcoholic beverage for yourself prior to guests arriving. If someone asks if they can help, let them. Delegate a task like getting someone a drink, or bringing main dishes to the table. If you’re having an outdoor party check out the Summer Outdoor Dinner Party post on Two Peas & Their Pod. My biggest tip out of 10 Tips for a Stress Free Dinner Party – enjoy!
I would love to hear any ideas you have for creating a stress free dinner party!