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Hosting Your First Dinner Party

Hosting your very first dinner party is a nerve-wracking prospect. Whether you are young, old, a fantastic chef or not, inviting close friends and family over for food and entertainment is a big responsibility.

If you have given it any thought you will be aware that hosting a successful one depends on a variety of different elements: a delicious menu, a convivial atmosphere and enough entertainment to keep the evening going. All in all, there is a lot to remember. This short guide is designed to give you an insight into how to plan your very first and hopefully, very successful dinner party.


Your first task is to sit down and seriously plan your forthcoming party. There are a series of questions that you should ask yourself. What type of party do you want to hold? Is it going to be themed and if you, will you be imposing a dress code? How much time do you want to spend in the kitchen preparing the food? How many guests do you want to invite? What will the menu be? How many courses do you want to make? How formal do you want it to be? What, if any, is your key culinary skill that you want to show off?

Get the answers to these questions and prepare the RSVP’s. Whether you are going to invite people via email, letter or text message you need to give your prospective guests at least a couple of weeks notice. Inviting them on Wednesday for a party on Friday is too last minute.

man thinking


Once your guests have confirmed attendance its time to go to work!  Draw up a list of action points. You might not be a natural list-maker but do trust us, this is a wise move. The action list should detail what you need to buy, when you need to buy it and how you are going to fit everything in on the day itself. Do it as a timeline if you find this helpful. This is a good way of avoiding unnecessary suffering in the kitchen on the night and it will make you feel in control.


The menu can make or break a dinner party. This is part of the reason why the prospect of the night is so nerve-wracking. The best piece of advice is to be realistic: if you are not a culinary genius don’t pick out a cookery book by aimed at Michelin starred chefs.

Keep the menu uncomplicated and don’t be afraid of doing so. A dish compiled of simple, fresh flavours gives the impression of culinary confidence and skill. It’s possible that your guests may be fooled into thinking that you are in fact a natural in the kitchen. A simple starter of salmon and rocket salad with a marinated chicken breast and fresh vegetables for the main course is one menu idea that will keep costs relatively low, preparation time to the minimum and even the fussiest of guests, happy.


Try and do as much as you can the night before. If you have to go to work on the day itself, you don’t want to be rushing around in the few hours you have before the guests start arriving. Marinating and vegetable chopping can be done in advance. This is also a good opportunity to prepare a cold dessert that can be stored in the fridge until it comes time to serve. Make something like tiramisu or a cheesecake: they are easy, delicious and store well.

Get the table ready. Doing this the night before is a great way to save time. Get the vase ready for the flowers, put the CD in the stereo, choose your lighting arrangement and get your outfit laid out so that you can spend the minimum amount of time running around.


When your guests start arriving, welcome them. Even if they are your nearest and dearest, greet them at the door with a smile and have a drink ready to serve. This will help set the mood for the evening and ensure that absolutely everyone is relaxed, including you.

If the dinner party is quite informal and you have quite a lot of cooking to do, don’t be afraid of inviting your guests into the kitchen and getting them to help. Believe it or not, this can be fun and it will take the stress and pressure off of you, allowing you to interact with your guests and keep to your schedule.


man holding two pints of beer

Hosting your very first dinner party is a big deal. The important part is the planning. Do as much of this as you can but don’t be alarmed if things go wrong. Dinner parties are meant to be enjoyable so keep smiling and if all else fails call out for a takeaway!

Everything you need to know about entertaining -  over 70 articles on all aspects of Entertaining.







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