Many of life's best moments occur over the dining table - where friends, family and food all come together for a fun occasion. I've always admired how the party host managed the incredible feat of cooking whilst entertaining without a sweat. 

Have you ever wondered how to host your own dinner party, stress-free? 

Whether you're inviting a few friends over for a casual dinner, or planning a bigger bash, hosting a cool dinner party doesn't need to be nerve-wrecking event. Having had a fair share of party-planning over the years, here's the secret to organising one that will impress without the stress. 

#1. Check Dietary Preferences
  • Remember to enquire about your guest's dietary preferences, especially if they are allergic to something. Having a guest swelling and itching over dinner isn't exactly ideal!
  • For guests who are driving or don't drink alcohol, consider offering a non-alcoholic fruit punch in a nice cocktail glass so that they don't feel left out of this celebratory occasion.
  • For guests who are vegetarian / vegan, it is possible to plan your menu such that it is modular and the meat versions are just a subset, avoiding the need for a separate menu. For example, it's easy to have chicken and veggie fajitas, or meat and meatless noodle salads if the meat component can be added on, rather than being integral to the dish.   

#2. Keep the Menu Simple
  • The ideal dinner party dish is something that you can make ahead or something that takes care of itself when cooking. Choose braises, roasts, stews or items cooked sous-vide over anything that has to be sautéed or stir-fried at the last minute. 
  • Keep the menu simple but do it well. Let good ingredients shine. A simple, but well-executed pasta dish can be the talk of the party.
  • Spend a little time to think about food plating - how and where food items are arranged. A clean and creative plating, paired with simple cooking and good drinks will do the job of impressing your guests.
  • Consider the limitations of your kitchen & its equipment. Above all, take account of how much refrigeration space you have especially if you intend to do a lot of advance preparation.
  • Never, ever try a new untested recipe for a dinner party. Road-test them beforehand, or stick to your signature dishes that you can whip out with confidence
Sous vide pork belly buns
Simple but impressive starter: Sous-vide pork belly buns
Image from Wikipedia
#3. Prepare in Advance 
  • Stay organised and prepare most of the cooking in advance if you can.
  • Create a shopping and to-do list so you won't forget a thing and would be relatively stress-free on day itself. Plus, it's fun to cross out items as you progress down the list.
  • In terms of food and drink quantities, budget for what you need and add a little extra just in case. You can always keep leftovers for another day. 
  • Always end the meal with a great dessert. Bake your favourite pudding beforehand, or feel free to buy them from stores, bakeries or your local patisserie. Nobody really says no to chocolate.

#4. Create the Right Ambience
  • Dim your lights, or just use candles for a warm, inviting and cozy atmosphere. Flat, bright lights tend to make people uncomfortable, tensed and awkward.  
  • Prepare a 6 hour long playlist and get some gentle background music flowing. Ideally, go for something classical or jazzy on a low volume so that guests can still hear each other and have proper conversation over dinner.   
  • Be ready 1 hour before anticipated guests arrival. Make sure the house is tidy, table is set, bathroom is spotless and your cooking is on plan. Oh, and you're dressed the part too, it's your party after all.

Tips for Hosting the Perfect Dinner Party
#5. Relax, Entertain and be the Perfect Host
  • Following the 4 steps above, things should be under control and you can relax and enjoy the party with your guests. When guests arrive, you want to be calm and ready to charm. Have some nice nibbles and drinks ready to welcome them. 
  • Delegate pouring drinks. Ask a friend to be in-charge of pouring drinks so you can concentrate on the finishing touches of your food preparation. 
  • A fun way to get guests to mingle before and during dinner is to have some dinner party games prepared. 
  • Leave the washing up until later. Your guests are here to enjoy the party and spend time with you, after all. 

How did you dinner party hosting experience went? Do you have further tips to share? Let's hear it in the comments below.

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I've always admired how the party host managed the incredible feat of cooking whilst entertaining without a sweat.


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