Are thinking about hosting some friends over for a meal? This dinner party step-by-step guide will walk you through the entire planning process. Once you have a solid plan for your dinner party, the rest is easy.
Create the Guest List
Start by creating the guest list. How big of a party do you want to host? If this is your first dinner party, consider only inviting one to three couples. Once you start trying to plan for more than eight people things get much more complicated and expensive.
Set the mood for your dinner party by sending out invitations. You can send out physical invites or digital ones like Evite. But, you should do more than just text a bunch of friends. You want to set the right mood and expectation. You are planning a dinner party, not a Netflix binge-watching party. Sending out invitations also allows you to ask your guests to RSVP. Knowing exactly who is showing up will make your life easier. If you are going to have a theme for your party, let your guests know on the invitations.
Double Check for Food Allergies
Once you know who is coming, ask them if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions. This serves two purposes. One, it shows that you are courteous and that you care about the health of your guests. Two, it gives your guests a safe way to ask you not to make certain things that they might not like. This makes the dinner party more enjoyable for everyone.
Plan the Menu
After you know who is coming and what food restrictions you are dealing with, it’s time to plan the menu. The easiest way to plan the menu is to work backwards from the end of the meal. You need to decide on:
- A Dessert
- The Main Course
- 1-2 Side Dishes
- Appetizers or Hors-d’oeuvres
If you have a theme for the dinner party, the food should reflect that theme in some way. Once you have the menu, you need to make a shopping list for the ingredients you will need.
Plan the Itinerary
A dinner party is about more than just the food. Once you have an idea for the meal, you need to create a plan for the rest of the evening. Don’t make the itinerary too tight. You are planning a party not a work conference. You should also plan a few different options for entertainment. You could select two or three different games and let your guests decide which one to play first.
Create a Playlist
Having the right music will help get everyone in the right mood. Again, any theme for the dinner party should inform your playlist. If you don’t have a theme, Jazz is always a great default as background music.
No matter how thorough you are in your planning process, there will be surprises. Decide now that you will be flexible and adapt to whatever comes along. If you “plan” to be surprised, you will feel more relaxed even when someone cancels at the last minute, or one of your side dishes fails to turn out perfectly.
Think of an “Extra”
If you want your first dinner-party to be the kind of success that people remember for years, you need to think of an “extra” for your party. Do something beyond what your guests will be expecting. It can be something small like a small party favor tied to the theme of the party. You could also do some kind of art and craft project together that everyone gets to take home. Maybe a little added decor?
And most importantly… When you can follow a dinner party step-by-step guide, you’ll knock it out of the park. Enjoy!