Planning a dinner party can be quite a daunting task for the uninitiated. There are a number of things to take into consideration, and that is before you even start to think about the menu.
Some people can pull off a last minute dinner party, but really it is better to plan in advance. Have a rough idea about the food you would like to cook, but be prepared to change your mind as the dinner party idea develops. Make a list of the people you would like to invite and send out the invitations. This can be as formal or informal as you like and will depend upon the people you wish to invite. Telephone calls are best so you can get an instant response.
How many guests should you invite?
Do not invite more people than you can realistically cook for. A good number for the first time dinner party host is 4 – 6 guests. If you include yourself you will have 5 to 7 people to cook for. This is not beyond most adequate cooks. When deciding upon the number of guests to invite don’t forget to consider where you will be eating – how many people can comfortably sit around your dinner table?
Take into account your guests’ food preferences
A good dinner party host will always take into consideration the food preferences and tastes of his/her guests. If one of your guests is a vegetarian/vegan, and you are planning to serve meat in the main course, you could either make a special dish for your vegetarian guest or replace the meat with an alternative. When you invite your guests ask if they have any special requirements, this will allow you to plan in advance and avoid embarrassment on the evening of your dinner party.
Make sure you buy enough food and drink
When buying the ingredients and drinks for your dinner party you should always overestimate and buy a little more than you think you will need. Accidents can happen, food can burn and mixes can fail. It is better to be ready for such occurrences rather than react to them when they happen.
Does your dinner party need a theme?
Many dinner parties have a theme associated with them. Sometimes this can be very strong and nothing to do with the food, other times it can be very subtle and everything do with the food. To help make a decision about the theme you would like to choose you should consider your guests and how they might react to the theme. If your guests are quite conservative and not very comfortable in fancy dress then asking your guests to wear fancy dress would be wrong. However, a smartly dressed theme might go down very well, but do not feel obliged to use a theme for your dinner party.
Dinner party logistics
Make sure you have everything you are going to need for the dinner party. Write lists when you first start to plan the party as you are sure to think of new ideas all the time, and forget them almost as quickly. Think about cutlery, plates, candlesticks, wine glasses, napkins, chairs, corkscrews, pans, hotplates and everything else you are going to need to make the food, serve the food and to accommodate your guests’ expectations.
Now for the food
Now that all of the logistics are out of the way you can finally start to think about the food you are going to serve. It is always best to go with something you have made before. Being adventurous is great if your guests are family members or close friends, but not such a good idea if your guests are people you have recently met or business associates you wish to impress.
People will expect at least a three course meal consisting of a starter, main course and a dessert. A choice of red or white wine is also advisable. Make sure the food is cooked properly, served as hot as possible (warm the plates before serving) and keep the portions big enough to satisfy your guests. You should also consider the time of year you are hosting your dinner party as this will help you create your menu.
I hope this article has helped you with your plans and I hope you and your guests enjoy the dinner party.
Please have a look at my website, Quick Free Recipes, for some great recipe ideas.