If you spend the majority of your time nurturing, chasing, and cleaning up after your little rugrats, then you might take the evenings that you get free to socialise (as hard they can be to come across) quite seriously. However, if you’re hosting a dinner party, then one thought you should get out of your head is that it will go perfectly. A little snafu isn’t the end of the world, but it can feel like it if you put too much pressure on yourself. Instead of worrying about things going perfect, here are the little touches that can make sure you have a lovely night above all else.
Food that your guests can eat
It’s not so much a little touch as an essential part of planning any dinner party. However, given that neglecting to follow this tip can ruin the entire night for at least one of your guests, it’s important to give you the reminder: ask about any special dietary requirements your guests might have ahead of time. Whether they’re allergic, intolerant, vegan or otherwise, make sure that you keep these requirements in mind when setting the menu, even if it means you have to make two of each course.
The right choice of wine
A good drink can go a long way when it comes to these social occasions. Wine is the perfect social lubricant for a dinner party, as it typically goes very well with a meal and (for most people) is easy to drink at a nice, relaxed pace. However, you want to make sure that you take the time to match your wine to your meal. For instance, a nice rich red can be the perfect wine for a barbeque, while you want to stick with white wine when serving fish, for instance. It’s a good idea to have more than one option for those who might be picky drinkers, too.
Put a bar in the kitchen
Your guests might keep each other company just fine while you’re getting the meal ready, but they might also want to make sure that you’re doing okay and catch up with you. For that reason, you might want to consider keeping a small bar in the kitchen, preferably at the far end of your work zone so that people aren’t coming into your space and interrupting you while you’re trying to cook. Be sure to use the dishwasher as a hiding place for any dishes you have yet to get to.
A decent table setting
You don’t need to have fancy cards in elaborate holders, nor do you necessarily need to break out (or even have) the fine china. However, taking the time to set the table properly and make it look nice can give the night an air of occasion. This can include simply making sure that the cutlery is laid out restaurant-style and procuring some nice napkins for the occasion. The centrepiece doesn’t have to go above and beyond, either, there’s nothing wrong with just using a couple of candles.
Have some music at the ready
You want the ambience to be right for your guests when they sit at the table. Lively conversation can help with that but when people are busy digging in, you don’t need them to be constantly chattering. For that reason, it’s a good idea to make sure you have your wi-fi speaker or radio at the ready and have music to play. There are plenty of Spotify playlists that are already made to work specifically for occasions like dinner parties so you don’t necessarily need to go to all the effort of curating your own night long selection of tunes.
Bring a little entertainment
You don’t need to call your evening a “game night” nor do you need to make a big deal out of it so that people feel pressured to take part. However, you should have a little bit of entertainment at the ready, even if it’s something as simple as a game of charades. This way, if the night is going fantastically and your guests are clearly there to stick around and enjoy one another’s company, you can bring out the entertainment you have ready to keep the fun going.
Take the time you need to prepare for your dinner party and try to make sure that you’re not rushing to do too much before and when your guests arrive. At that stage, pouring a couple of drinks and finishing the food should be your sole concern.