10 steps for the perfect dinner party at home

Serving meat - Taste of South America

Dinner parties are like pasta varieties – they come in all different shapes and sizes, but they’re easy to prepare if you follow some basic instructions. Some are small, casual catch-ups, while others call for a big deep breath and a few extra sets of wineglasses.

  • Send invitations
  • Confirm numbers
  • Get dietary requirements
  • Pick the chef & menu
  • Triple check the basics
  • Send reminders
  • Picture the scene
  • Remember to relax
  • Share the love
  • Keep the party going

The one thing all successful hosts have in common is good planning skills. So how do you make your event sizzle, not fizzle? First you need a checklist. Well look at that, we’ve made one for you already… Your checklist explained:


However you choose to send invitations – via email, social media or even the old-fashioned letter – make sure you give recipients the important facts along with those fancy fonts and pictures. When and where is the event taking place? What do people need to bring? This could save you the trouble of answering the same questions from ten different people later on.

You can’t plan properly until you know who’s coming, so lock in those numbers as early as possible. You may need to be quite strict on your RSVP deadline, otherwise you’ll be waiting and waiting for the reply that never comes.

This is no time for guesswork. The last thing your dinner party needs is a guest who can’t eat the main course, or worse suffers an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients. Ask each guest if there is any important information you and/or the chef should know in advance. And of course, take every request seriously.

Now you’re making progress. The big question is: will you be cooking the meal yourself or will you be hiring a private chef? If you’re taking care of everything, stick to recipes you’re familiar with and use fresh ingredients. If you want an expert in the kitchen, do your research and discuss the chef’s menu options until you’re satisfied.

Sometimes a host focuses so much on the food that they forget to take care of the essentials like cooking equipment, table space, seating, plates, cutlery, glasses, music and more. Don’t let an awkward mid-party crisis happen on your watch. Work out exactly what you need and buy more of what’s missing.

The dinner party might be your number one priority, but never assume your guests feel the same way. People are busy, and there’s a chance your event has accidentally slipped the odd memory. A simple reminder or two will do the job.

Before your guests arrive, try to imagine how the evening will unfold from start to finish. Where do you want early arrivals to wait? Is the living room clean and tidy so people can get comfy? What’s the plan for post-dinner drinks? You can’t predict the future, but you can certainly try.

There’s nothing more frustrating at a dinner party than a host who can’t sit down. Your guests want you to have a good time too. You’ve done all the hard work, so don’t forget to actually enjoy yourself!

Being a good host is no walk in the dining room. Yes you’re tyring to avoid unnecessary distractions, but you’re definitely not trying to avoid your guests. Eat together. Chat to everyone. If possible, be at the table for the toasts, the group photos, and all the other memorable moments.

The food’s been eaten, the place is clean, and the chef has left you for the evening. That doesn’t mean the party’s over. Depending on the people and the occasion, the good times might just roll on for a few more hours. Keep the drinks flowing, the music playing, the lights down low and the energy up high. You really are the host with the most!

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