7 Steps to Throwing a Successful, yet Inexpensive, Dinner Party

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People have been gathering together to share meals socially for centuries. Regardless of whether you are planning a business dinner party with colleagues, a family dinner party to celebrate a special event or a casual get-together with your best friends, you understandably want your event to be enjoyed by everyone and to be an overall success. While preparing dinner for a few extra people than you normally would may seem like it should not be a big deal that requires special planning and effort, this is not actually the case. Regardless of how low-key or upscale you intend for your event to be, you need to take a few steps to ensure that you pull off an amazing event. After you have finalized your plans to host a dinner party, you can then take the necessary steps to plan and shop. Allow these helpful steps to guide your party-planning efforts.

1 – Create a Guest List

Many aspects of party-planning revolve around who will be in attendance. For example, the menu may be more elaborate if you are hosting top executives from your company than if you are hosting a few neighbors and close friends. When you prepare the guest list, think about how many people you can comfortably accommodate in your home. Remember that each person should be able to sit around your dinner table comfortably without feeling cramped. If necessary, scale down your guest list or plan ahead for more seating.

2 – Prepare a Menu and Shop

Once your guest list has been finalized, you can then prepare a menu. Some people have signature dishes that they know are a big hit with guests. Others may need to search online or ask friends or family members for recipes. If you intend to serve new dishes to your guests, always prepare them ahead of time so that you can ensure that they are delicious. While you want the food to be delicious, think about its appearance in serving bowls and on the plates. Try to create a great mix of colors while also incorporating meat or pasta, veggies and a starchy food. Add wine, bread and salad to round out your menu.

3 – Think About Décor

Your next step is to think about décor. For an elegant dinner party, it is appropriate to pull out the nice dishes and to cover the table with a tablecloth. For a casual event, a more relaxed tablecloth and everyday dishware may be appropriate. Consider a table centerpiece and if you will have candles lit for ambiance. Keep in mind that the party décor should blend well with the décor throughout the rest of the home while also being suitable for the event that you are planning. If you don’t already have what you need, then it’s time to hit the stores. For last minute parties, local stores will have what you need. But if you have time and planning, you can often get a wider selection of decor options online.

4 – Set the Mood

Many people believe that mood is created by décor, but these are actually two different factors to consider. The mood or ambiance will be dictated partially by the décor, and the lighting in the space will also impact mood. A lower light level can be more comfortable for dinner guests, but avoid making the lighting too dim. Your guests should be able to clearly see each other and their food. A dimmer setting, however, creates a sense of intimacy. You may also select a music playlist ahead of time with at least several hours of music in the lineup.

5 – Prepare Food Ahead of Time

Some dishes must be prepared immediately before serving, but many can be prepared ahead of time. For example, you may prepare a salad and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to serve it. Some main courses and side dishes may be prepared ahead of time as well, and you may only need to slide them into the oven at the right time. Preparing food ahead of time gives you more time to get dressed beforehand. It also ensures that you have time to clean the kitchen as well as ample time to socialize with your guests.

6 – Dress for the Event

Spend time selecting the right outfit for the event. You may want to be dressed slightly nicer than your guests, but avoid over-dressing. When you are too elegant or formal for the type of event that you are hosting, you may make your guests feel uncomfortable. Likewise, if they are dressed more elegantly than you, they may feel overdressed and uncomfortable. Put ample thought your wardrobe, and remember that it should correspond well to the overall theme or mood of the event.

7 – Take Last-Minute Prep Steps

You should be dressed ahead of your guests’ arrival. In addition, the house should be perfectly clean, and the table should be set. After you are dressed, make all necessary last-minute preparation steps. For example, put your pets away, and light the candles if you intend to use them. Dim the lights to an appropriate level, and get your playlist ready to go. If you don’t have time to choose a playlist, music subscription services will often have excellent dinner music a single search away.