How To Host A Successful Dinner Party?
Discover our tips & tricks to hosting a successful dinner party with Robins Kitchen. Find out how to choose a theme, decide on what to cook & more.
Whether it be for a special occasion, a typical Tuesday night, a lavish affair, or cool and casual, there is a lot to consider when hosting a dinner party. Consider the space you have to be able to entertain. Do you have enough seating for a sit-down affair? Can you clear enough space for a standing event. We cover our tips for a successful dinner party including food planning, the gear you may need, and invite requirements.
Will You Have A Theme?
- Themes come in all colours, shapes, and sizes. Sometimes the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to theme parties is a gimmick. 80’s, Pretty in Pink, Cowboys…. But the truth is a theme can be anything you want it to be. When it comes to dinner parties the style of food is typically the theme – Italian Feast, Mexican Fiesta, Backyard Bohemian, Aussie BBQ just to name a few.
- Will your dinner party include games and entertainment? Board games or backyard games like croquet are a fun way to interact with guests with a casual setting. For a formal setting, get conversation flowing and maybe learn something new about your guests with conversation starters. This is helpful for new gatherings or for guests who haven’t met before.
What is Required in Food Planning?
- Have your guests RSVP’d with their dietary requirements? Consider these when creating your meal plan and shopping list. Majority rules here. If the majority of your guest list is vegetarian then it would be wise to make your menu vegetarian. Some conditions need to be taken seriously. For example, you don’t want to send a guest with a nut allergy to hospital after serving them a salad with hidden pieces of walnuts.
- Collect recipe inspiration and make sure to multiply your recipe to match your guest number. For example, if your recipe makes 4 and you have 8 guests, then double the ingredients. Make a total list of ingredients required for all the recipes, then check off what you already have in your cupboards and fridge. What is remaining is your shopping list. For annual occasions like Easter and Christmas, where particular foods can be in high demand, we recommend ordering with your grocer as far in advance as possible.
What Are the Invitation Essentials and Etiquette?
- Guest lists should include partners +1. Giving them their own invite makes them feel included and just an addition.
- Give guests a minimum 2 weeks’ notice of the event. This will allow time for RSVP’s, food planning, and guests time to make space in their calendar.
- Provide an RSVP date. Don’t just assume whom you invite is coming. Make this for 5-7 days before the event.
- Ask your guests for any dietary requirements. This include gluten free, lactose intolerance, vegetarian and vegan. What you may have seen on a menu at a restaurant is what should be considered.
- Be clear about the theme. Especially if share plates are involved.
- Let your guests know what is required of them. BYO drinks? Bring a share plate? If there is a dish a guest makes that you love, don’t be afraid to request this. They will be flattered you are thinking of them. And always let them know what the theme is. You don’t want a Mexican salsa when it’s an Italian theme.
- Just bring yourself rules. Be careful what you wish for. Some guests will take this quite literally. If you’re vague about saying just bring yourself, don’t expect a guest to just show up with a bottle of wine even though etiquette suggests bringing something as a token of appreciation.
Preparing For the Big Day
Think about what can be prepared ahead of time. Can the table be set in the morning? Is there any food that can be prepared the day before. The more that is prepared ahead of schedule, the less stressed leading up to the party will be. The last thing you want to do is still be preparing dishes or folding napkins as guests arrive. These are our recommendations:
- The weekend before - Check all your plates, cutlery, and glasses for any chips and if you have enough for guests. Also consider checking over any tablecloths and napkins. This will allow you time to replace or buy more without rushing out last minute.
- Cleaning up the house the day before focussing on the rooms guests are expected to wonder through – We’re not talking about a spring clean here. But you do want to make a good impression. Give the essentials like the kitchen, dining room and bathroom/powder room a sanitary clean. For additional first impressions include a fragrance in the entry way to welcome your guests.
- Set the table the morning of the party. This will ensure, even if you have checked over your gear the weekend before, that you have everything you need and have time to pop out if required for replacements or additions.
- Polish glasses and cutlery the night before.
- Is there any food that can be prepared the day before? Sauces, desserts. Anything that can help free up your time on the day of the event would be advantageous.
Set the Scene
- Decorations are perfect for festive occasions. Birthdays, Christmas, and Easter are the most popular. Just make sure the decorations don’t interfere with your guests interacting with each other. If it’s blocking their view of each other or blocking a seating option, then get rid of it. It will be a nuisance and become a talking point which is certainly what you don’t want.
- Music matching is as important as matching wine to foods. It sets the tone for the evening. And don’t make it too loud. You don’t want to make it feel like a night club yelling over the top of each other. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. Loud to create ambience but low enough that you can hear the conversation down the table.
- Setting the table can make or break the flow of the evening. Don’t believe me? Consider this. For formal dining we recommend a soft tablecloth as the base. This immediately creates elegance. Use a table runner to indicate a place setting for decorations or dishes in the centre. If you will be serving the meals as gusts are seated, layer your dishes in the order they will used. Same goes for cutlery. Bread plate to the left, glass to the right. Cloth napkins also make a great impression and feel nice to have on your lap.
Hosting your dinner party doesn’t need to be a stressful occasion. The more planned ahead you will be with careful consideration of your guests, means the less chaotic your event will be. The thing is guests can sense when a host is stressed which in turn can make them stressed. Keep your guests out of the kitchen and help them relax by being relaxed yourself.
Use the analogy of a duck on water. You will look like you’re floating gracefully in the pond when really, you’re kicking away underneath. Make a checklist and contact your grocers ahead of time. Check all your gear and make sure you have everything you need without having to wash up halfway through the party. Have fun with it and cheers to you!Back to blog