In spite of the dwindling popularity of dinner parties, we think they’re special. A group of friends around your table sharing great conversation, food and wine creates long lasting memories. Being the cool, calm hostess that makes guests comfortable and the time together enjoyable is no easy task. Here are a few helpful tips to help you plan ahead and create an amazing dinner party that friends will talk about for a long time to come.

The point of throwing a dinner party comes down to making guests feel welcome and comfortable in your home. You’ll need an idea and plan of action in order to get there. You’ll be glad you did when you sit down to dinner knowing that every detail has been taken care of and the only thing left is taking pleasure in time together!

  1. Select a date; don’t bother trying to find a time to suit everyone’s schedules.  Take a look at your calendar and choose a convenient date for you as long as the celebration does not revolve around someone’s birthday, anniversary, or a holiday.  A small dinner party with a few friends requires nothing more than a phone call, but if you’re planning a fete with numerous people send an invitation via the mail with an RSVP. You’ll want to invite guests two to three weeks before the party. During this time you’ll come up with a plan of action leaving no stone unturned.
  2. Decide a theme for the dinner party.  The theme can be elaborate or simple.  Plan the entire party from food to decorations around the theme.
  3. As soon as you set a date take stock of how much time you have and the level of your cooking skills. Use the tried and true recipes in your repertoire: don’t serve a dish from a recipe you’ve never tried before.
  4. Make lists. Your first list will be the guest list followed by menu ideas. Create a wish list of everything you can think of that you either want or need. Pare it down to size as you go along.
  5. One of the most important things you can do to assure a smooth path to a great dinner party is to create a time table.  Grab a notebook and begin at the time set for guests to arrive.  Work your way backward.  Guests arrive at 7 for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres means everything must be ready to serve by 7 o’clock. Include every aspect of the party in the time table: grocery shopping, setting the table, cooking, decorating, lighting candles, picking up necessary items, and every detail.
  6. Do any heavy cleaning well in advance of the party. This would include carpet cleaning if needed. Your house should sparkle on the night of the dinner party. Check china, crystal, cutlery, and linens. Make sure everything is spotless.
  7. Plan to do the grocery shopping for fresh produce the day before. Make all recipes that you can ahead of time and freeze. If your dining room can be closed off, set the table and decorate the room the day before making sure that no children or pets go into the room. Once your cooking is done, make sure your kitchen is clean too, as guests often gather or offer to help.
  8. On the day of the party have a comprehensive checklist of each task that needs to be done and how long it will take. Check off each item as it’s completed right down to lighting the candles and opening the wine so it can breathe.
  9. Make time for you. Make sure you’ve included in your time table plenty of time for you to relax in a bubble bath and pamper yourself before guests arrive. By taking time for yourself you’ll be calmer and more relaxed so that you can truly enjoy the dinner party. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable your guests will be.

Entertaining friends and/or family at a dinner party can be a daunting and sometimes stressful commitment. Alleviate the stress and cut off at the pass any problems that may arise. Plan ahead, do as much as you can in advance of the day of the party, create lists and time tables to follow, make time for yourself, and you’ll be hosting an amazing dinner party!