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Tips for Hosting a Dinner Party

Written by Laura Martinez - 5 Comments

Hosting a dinner party is a great way to spend time with family and friends. It gives you a chance to relax over a good meal and catch up with everyone, and doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. With that in mind, I’ve asked friends to help me out as I try and put together a guide to dinner parties that can help reduce stress.

Decide what kind of dinner party you want to host

Before you invite people over, you should decide the size and tone of the dinner party. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How big to you want the party to be? I think that six to eight people is good number to start with and test the waters. That way you’ll have a chance to speak with everyone for at least a bit.
  • Who do you want to spend time with? Try to mix people with different interests and personalities to encourage conversations. You might even consider inviting a combination of neighbors and co-workers.
  • What kinds of food should you serve? You can keep things informal by choosing finger foods for appetizers. As far as the main course goes, Italian dishes can be relatively easy to prepare and great to serve a large group.
  • Should you ask others to bring food? Having others bring a dish can be a wonderful way to lighten your load, and also adds to the diversity of the meal.

Menu ideas for your dinner party

Once you’ve decided who to invite, you need to decide on the menu. I often use Food Network for meal ideas and recipes. If you’ve never used it, you should try it out.. You can search by ingredients, ease of making, and user reviews.

Here are some ideas for dinner party food ready that can prepared in 30 minutes or less, I found these easy recipes:

Appetizers

Main dishes

Desserts

Dinner party etiquette

Curious as to the guidelines you should follow what rules you should follow about the guidelines for dinner parties, here are some tips below. Just keep in mind that it’s your party, so feel free to play change things up.

  • When should you serve the food? Debrett’s suggests that food should be served within an hour of the guests’ arrival. Have most of the food ready before they arrive so you’ll have time to mingle a bit before dinner.
  • How much alcohol should you serve? Keep it simple and serve a glass or two of wine before the meal. Have non-alcoholic alternatives for those who choose not drink. Decide for yourself how much alcohol you want to have at your party, and keep an eye out during the dinner party in case you need to cut someone off.
  • What kind of music should you play? I personally think that music should reflect the vibe and the season of the party. I would also recommend creating a playlist ahead of time to reduce the number of distractions when your friends arrive. Be sure to keep the volume low enough that you can follow a conversation.
  • How should you handle the seating arrangements? The key is to mix up the usual groups and introduce people. Have a quieter person sit next to a socializer, and so on.

Dinner parties and people

I’ve written previously about genuine conversations and networking with others at dinner parties. What follows are some tips that I’ve picked up in the past.

  • Introduce people by sharing a story. A great way to introduce people is to share a complimentary story about one (or both) of the people that you’re introducing. Genuine compliments are always appreciated, and telling a story helps to break the ice.
  • Listen carefully to others. You probably like it when people you’re talking with are engaged and listening intently. Your guests are no different.
  • Ask follow-up questions. You don’t have to be an expert in order to hold up your end of the conversation. Ask questions… What do they mean? How did they come up with the idea? Ask them to break things down for you. Not only you boost their ego, you’ll also learn quite a bit.
  • Be loyal. If a guest says something negative about one of your friends (whether or not they’re at the party), kindly stand up for your friend. People respect loyalty. Conversely, avoid gossiping as it can ruin your reputation and others.

Parting Thoughts

The people are what really makes a dinner party sucessful. The food, music, and atmosphere are simply there to help to foster conversation. Even if the details of your dinner party aren’t perfect, it’s still likely to be a fun and memorable experience for everyone.

Do you have any tips for hosting a dinner party? What works and what doesn’t?

Published on June 9th, 2009
Modified on October 4th, 2011 - 5 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany

About the author: helps families achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt and building freelance income over at Couple Money.

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5 Responses to “Tips for Hosting a Dinner Party”

  1. 1
    craig Says:

    Great tips overall, but confused how you can have arranged seats? I understand you wanting to sit certain people next to each other to meet and mingle, but naturally people will just sit wherever.

  2. 2
    Laura Says:

    I can understand your view. Some more formal dinner parties have seating arrangements. I have some friends older than ourselves who do have a plan with that. It’s worked really well and I’ve met some wonderful people that way.

  3. 3
    DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad Says:

    Great post!

    Worth reading for the recipes alone! Thanks for sharing.

  4. 4
    Doctor S Says:

    The recipies are a great bunch of new things to try. Thanks!

    As for assigned seats, I have been to a few parties that used them and it can be akward at first, but people eventually act like human beings and converse.

    Asking the right questions before you plan the dinner party is key, smaller sized dinner parties are the best, thats when you overwhelm your guests with above recipies!

  5. 5
    SimpleVesting Says:

    Wow, this is great. I will use this over the upcoming Summer dinner party season for sure. Molten Lava cakes sound fantastic!

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