Throwing a dinner party is a great way to spend quality time with friends in familiar surroundings. But things can get very stressful if you aren’t prepared for what lies ahead.
There are several facets to a successful gathering; get just one wrong, and your dinner party cold end up being a disaster. But get organised and make some detailed plans in advance, and your event should be the warm and inviting gathering you’re hoping for.
1. PLAN THE MEAL
The most complex task associated with throwing a dinner party is cooking the meal, so this is where your plans should begin. Choose something relatively simple that can be prepared in advance. It’s also a good idea to stick to food that is almost universally liked; Italian food is ideal, as almost everyone loves pasta and classic Italian fare.
Although it’s best to keep things simple, the food you serve still needs to look great on the plate, so choose something that is both tasty and pretty.
You can get your event off to the best possible start by serving some appropriate canapes. For instance, if you’re serving Italian food, mini bruschetta, olives, and anything with mozzarella or ham should be well received.
Once you have created your menu, compile a shopping list so nothing is left to chance.
2. STYLE YOUR DINNER PARTY
You can create a fantastic ambience from the outset by theming your gathering or picking a predominant colour for all your accessories and settings. But first you need to decide whether this is going to be a formal event or something more casual. Will you insist on a dress code? Will you be serving cocktails before the food is served?
3. SEND OUT INVITES
How you invite your guests will depend on how formal your event is. If you’re simply inviting people around for a bite to eat, quick phone calls should suffice. However, if you’re planning something more refined, some quality printed invitations is a nice way to get things underway. Use your invitations to let people know the dress code and the overall tone of the night. And always add an R.S.V.P, as this will help you to plan.
4. CREATE A SCHEDULE
There is no such thing as over-planning when it comes to a dinner party. To ensure that everything goes to plan, and that you have enough time with your guests between serving courses, plan every minute of your event in detail. Consider the following issues when creating a schedule:
- What time will guests arrive?
- What drinks will be served on arrival?
- What food — if any — will be served on arrival?
- What time will each course be served?
- Will there be a toast?
- Will coffee be served?
- Will after-dinner liqueurs be served?
- Will there be any entertainment?
- What time do you want the night to end?
5. CLEAN YOUR HOME
On the day of your dinner party, set aside a couple of hours for some detailed cleaning — paying particular attention to your hallway, dining area, kitchen and bathroom. Your Shark vacuum cleaner and its various accessories will help you to clean upholstered furniture, light fittings, floor coverings and shelving quickly and easily.
6. SET YOUR TABLE EARLY
Set your dining table as soon as you’ve finished cleaning your home. Make sure all your glassware and cutlery is spotlessly clean, and take the time to set everything out in a neat and consistent fashion. How you set your table will depend on the tone of your gathering. However, you can get a few tips for setting a formal table on the Internet.
TIP: Assign seating in advance, but try to put people together who will have something in common. While many people believe that seating people next to strangers is a good way of getting everyone to mingle, this can lead to awkward and stilted conversations if there’s nothing meaningful to talk about. If you have nervous guests, seating them next to people they know will help them to relax.
7. HAVE FUN
The single biggest mistake most hosts make when throwing a dinner party is becoming obsessed with delivery. After all, what’s the point of holding a social event if you’re going to spend the entire evening tearing your hair out in the kitchen? Guests will forgive mistakes, but they won’t be impressed with an absent host.
There really is no right and wrong when it comes to planning and executing a dinner party. Decide on the menu, the tone and the decor — and everything else should fall into place.