If you like to entertain, you have probably had your fair share of backyard cookouts or tailgates, but what if you want to add a little panache? Hosting a dinner party can be a memorable way to bring together new friends or impress your coworkers with a bit more structure and formality. Dinner parties sound like a lot of work, but may be easier than you think to organize. Follow our seven tips to throw a successful dinner party this month in your Western home.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
When you plan a dinner party, you should first make a master list to stay on top of all the little details. Start with your guest list; you should have an idea of how many people you want to invite and the scope of your party. Are you thinking about a large soiree with a caterer, or do you want to keep it simple (i.e., a few couples that can fit comfortably in your dining room)? Our tip? Try starting small and simple until you get the hang of hosting a dinner event.
Plan your invitations based on your guest list and theme, if you have one. A theme can revolve around an upcoming holiday, an event (like an anniversary or birthday), or even a type of cuisine. While a theme isn’t an essential element of your dinner party, it can give you an opportunity to get creative. Invitations can be easily generated online through a website like Paperless Post and then either mailed or emailed to your guest list. Email invitations are quick and easy, and some sites that offer this service can also track RSVPs and send reminders to guests a few days before the party.
On the Menu
Next, you should decide what you would like to serve. Again, it doesn’t have to be a complicated, gourmet meal; in fact, we suggest picking up pre-made appetizers or local-favorite desserts so you can focus your attention on the main course and sides. (To be a host with the most, remember to check with your guests to see if they have any allergies or dietary restrictions that you can accommodate). Here again, making a list of your dishes and needed ingredients can make it easy to get everything you need in one shopping trip. When thinking about portions, a good rule to follow is about 10 bites per person for appetizers and heavy hors d’oeuvres. When planning main dishes, prepare enough for a couple additional people than will be coming to ensure you have plenty.
Craft a Cocktail
Decide what drinks you would like to offer your guests at the bar. Are your friends beer drinkers, or do they appreciate a fine red wine? Mixed drinks and cocktails offer a fun twist, which gives you another avenue for creativity. You can mix up your own specialty cocktail while offering a flavored tea for your friends who prefer not to partake. Plan accordingly to provide at least two cocktails or a half a bottle of wine per person at a dinner party.
Set the Scene
Creating ambiance gives you another way to wow your guests when they arrive at your home. Select your music and make a playlist or two that can last for the length of your party, taking care to remember that music should be a pleasant addition to your evening and not the main attraction. Don’t forget your table decorations! A tablescape doesn’t have to be complicated to show you thought of every detail. A simple floral bouquet, an array of succulents, or small assortment of candlesticks can all dress up your table without interfering in conversation between your guests. Another thing to consider is lighting. Bright overhead lights are not the most relaxing, so you may want to bring in floor lamps or dim the recessed lighting in your dining room for a softer environment.
Get an Early Start
Don’t leave everything to the last minute for your dinner party. You want to be able to enjoy your time with your guests, not spend the evening alone in the kitchen preparing everything. Take care of what you can a few days before your party, such as setting your table, selecting your serving pieces, decorating your Western buffet table, and buying your groceries and beverages. You may want to knock some tasks out ahead of time as well, or at least chop vegetables, marinate meats, and prepare and refrigerate your side dishes so all you have to do is pop them in the oven that evening.
Sure, hosting a dinner party is work, but it’s also supposed to be fun for everyone — including the host. Keep it simple so you can relax and connect with your guests. Chances are they will be happier about the time spent together and less concerned with the food itself. Try to limit your stress and do as much as you can before your guests arrive. Besides, if they see you having a good time, your guests may decide to return the favor and host the next get-together.
Make sure your Western-style dining room is ready for you to host your next party. Brumbaugh’s Fine Home Furnishings has everything you need from dining tables and chairs to buffets and sideboards to make entertaining easy. Come visit our showroom or contact us online before your dinner party.