Dinner is about far more than sustenance. Birthdays, work meetings and first dates; our most important moments in life occur over dinner. In fact, the ritual of mealtime can be truly nourishing and meaningful.
So just what are the key ‘ingredients’ to hosting the best dinner party around town? We’ve got the recipe.
Step 1: Plan it in advance
It is crucial to plan. But unless you are planning a wedding, this needn’t be a monster of a task to plan months in advance. How many people, how much food, what kind of food, location, budget and so on. Plan to know what’s coming up.
Step 2: The basics
When will you be hosting this dinner party? Ask a few prospective guests and make sure there are no big events or birthdays around then.
Do you have enough space at your place? Or can you hold it inside or outside? What will the weather be like?
There are no textbook answers to these questions. Some like to host parties in smaller spaces that feel cosy, occupied and busy. Decide what you prefer and what options are available for you.
Now, consider your invitees. You want a good number of people cosying around your dining table. You will want to consider whether they will all get along. Consider no-shows and plus-ones.
Now for the exciting bit! What enticing delicacies will you serve up? Key thing to remember here is that you don’t want to be too busy cooking on the night, so consider dishes that you can make in advance. And a useful tip: avoid crazy dishes that you have never made before. This could very well equal disaster and a last minute run to the local takeaway. Know that complicated dishes are not necessarily more impressive than simple meals made with good ingredients and a whole lot of love!
Have you thought about dietary requirements? You’ll need to factor these things into your food set list too. As a fail safe, maybe try to have a vegetarian/vegan alternative in case there are any guerilla herbivores in the mix.
Step 3: The big day
On the night
One of the most difficult things to do: relax and have fun.
Even though (inevitably) you’ll have half your mind on your schedule and other hosting duties, try to be present and savour everything going on around you. While it may seem that your duty is to feed your guests, in reality it is for you to spend time with them. Don’t start to clean up mid-event; you can get to it later, and hopefully with a bit of help!
Despite all your wonderful planning, expect things to go wrong at the last minute. Learn to adapt. That’s part of the fun! Self-professed “maniacal-perfectionist” and homemaker extraordinaire Martha Stewart says wisely, “So, the pie isn’t perfect? Cut it into wedges.” Stay in control and never panic.
Try to expect the unexpected. The first guest will arrive early. You’ll encounter an unexpected dietary requirement. Children will make a mess. These things happen! But if you’re well prepared, you’ll still be able to kick back and have a blast while you’re at it being an excellent host.
Quoting, again for her dinner-party savvy, ol’ Martha Stew, “there is no single recipe for success. But there is one essential ingredient: passion.” Just add the final garnishing touches, and voilà: you’re hosting a dinner party!