7 Tips for Hosting a Great Dinner Party

Posted by: samy October 5, 2015 No Comments
7 tips for hosting a great dinner party

by Erin

So, you’re determined to host a great dinner party.

There’s only one problem: you have no idea what you’re doing.

Don’t worry: follow these easy tips for stress free entertaining and we’ll have you working a dinner party like your name’s Julia Child.

Invite Only

Get your invitations out at least one month in advance and be clear about the rsvp deadline. People have busy schedules and popular dates like holidays and weekends are often booked six or eight weeks out.

If you always spend the holidays with the same group of people, figure out who is hosting well in advance. You don’t want to make the decision the week-of and then be left scrambling to get it together.

On the flip side, if you are hosting a dinner party that doesn’t have a mandatory guest list, be flexible with the invites. That way if you get a lot of no’s, you can mix and match – which often adds interest to the evening as guests get to mingle with people they don’t normally meet.

Related: How to Throw a Party for 100 People

Play With Numbers

Invite at least six people to your dinner party. Four seems like a double date and five seems like a fifth wheel. If you host more than 12 people, split up the couples to inspire interesting conversation.

Plan Ahead

Give yourself at least a week to plan the dinner. Write the menu, take inventory of what you need to buy, and even put sticky notes on the cookware, plates and glasses you plan to use. This way you won’t be scrambling to polish the silverware as guests arrive, and you don’t double book the serving bowl for both the soup and the salad.

Related: How to Throw a Fabulous Fete, When You’re Busier Than Busy Can Be

K.I.S.S. the Cook

You know the tempting wild mushroom casserole recipe you saw on the cover of that gourmet magazine waiting in line at the grocery store? Hosting a dinner party is not the time to try it out. It may seem boring to you, but it’s best to stick with your tried and true. Besides, what’s old hat to you, is rare to guests, and they will likely be excited to enjoy it again.

Julia’s Words of Wisdom

However, if you burn the turkey or undercook your pie crust, don’t make apologies. Let the food speak for itself and don’t put a negative tone on the meal before guests even get to try it. As Julia Child said, effusive (and perhaps unnecessary) apologies make guests feel like they must insist on how great the dinner is, which is awkward – and exhausting – for everyone.

Related: Our Holiday Entertaining Essentials

Plan Some More

Trying to get everything done the day your hosting your dinner party is a recipe for nothing but disaster, so take your handy-dandy checklist, and knock off as many things as possible before the Big Day.

Set the table earlier in the week, whip up the salad dressing a day prior, assemble sturdy casseroles a day or two before so they’re ready to bake, and take desserts out of the freezer to thaw the night before.

Related: How to Set an Inviting Fall Table

Make Forgiving Food

Items like beef tenderloin, which can be served hot or at room temperature, or one pot wonders like coq au vin that can be prepared the day before are delicious options and they let the hostess relax with her guests.

Related: How to Throw a Stress-Free and Stylish Cocktail Party

Ready and Waiting

Plan to be dressed, candles lit, music on, kitchen tidied, and ready to greet guests at least 30 minutes before arrival time. No one wants to walk into a mad house, so in the words of Elizabeth Taylor, “put on some lipstick, pour yourself a drink, and pull yourself together.”

Related: Video – How to Open a Wine Bottle

Keep Calm and Carry On

Inevitably something will go wrong – but never let ‘em see you sweat.

Whether it’s spilled red wine on a white rug or dried-out turkey, stay calm and gracious; wipe up the spill, pass the cranberry sauce and laugh it off. When the host is having a great time, so are the guests, and that’s what will create invaluable memories.

Related: Why Disasters Can Make Your Party Even Better


Looking to give your Holiday a little sparkle? Why not throw a wine tasting? Book now! 


This blog was originally published in 2015 and has been updated for 2020. 


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