Okay, so hosting a dinner party can be a LOT of stress. I'm sure many of you can relate! It's a lot of fun and it's a great way to bring people together, but between the cooking, preparations and entertaining it's very easy to be Missing-In-Action!!!
Don't miss out on the fun! One of the most important things to do when you're entertaining is to actually BE with your guests and to enjoy time with them so they feel welcomed and comfortable.
But how do you juggle the cooking, setting up, cleaning, greeting AND spending quality time with your guests? I wanted to share my hostessing outline with you so you can make the most of your time and host an AWESOME brunch, lunch or dinner party!
1. Plan AHEAD! -- Meal preparation
It is SO important to make your meal breakdown AHEAD of time. Choose your main dish and plan your sides around that. Stick to your plan like glue! It might be tempting to try something new last minute, but trust me on this one! It's not a good idea. You don't want to find out the meat needs to be marinated for 24 hours 4 hours before your event, or realize you're out of coconut oil the day of!
Here's a few things to keep in mind:
- What kind of event it is
- Allergies and dietary restrictions of guests
- What dishes can be made the day before with minimal preparation left for the day of
- Desserts that don't have to be fresh from the oven
- Your experience making the dishes before
- What can be done family-style or buffet-style (unless you have a smaller group)
Once you've picked out the PERFECT meal, I like to practice mise en place -- meaning that I have ALL ingredients laid out before I start cooking. Aside from making you feel like the star of a cooking show, it also helps you to see what ingredients you're almost out of at a glance. Frantic runs to the grocery store are never fun!
2. Choose a Theme Early On
Themes make things so much easier. You don't have to spend too much time thinking about how things fit together if you have a theme as a base. It pulls everything together in a super neat and organized way!
Once you have your theme going, pick out 1~3 base colors. These colors can be used in the table cloths and larger decorations. Once you have your theme going, you can choose dinnerware and flowers to complement it!
3. Choosing drinks
It's important to let your guests know what kind of drinks will be offered before hand. If you can get your meal and your drinks chosen before you send the invites, you're doing GREAT! People can be particular about their choice in drinks, so it's good to know ahead of time if they need to BYOB.
I LOVE the idea of self-serve drinks on bar carts. They're super fun to style and it makes things WAY easier on the host. Check out my post on How to Style a Bar Cart to see how to set up a stylish pour-it-yourself serving area!
4. Bring the Life to the Party!!!
Aside from using your wonderful personality to brighten things up, you can also make a playlist ahead of time to keep the party going! A dinner party without music is like a baseball game without and bats!
String up some of your favorite songs that fit the mood and throw in some that everyone knows. Old songs and popular songs are great conversation starters for the guests! I always love Thunder by Imagine Dragons, it pumps you up wherever you are!
5. Communicate How Much is Expected
If you're doing a potluck style dinner party or asking the guests to bring something, be sure to communicate that with them well. Make sure it is clear what they need to bring and how much should be made. Also, see if there's any way to divvy up what kinds of dishes will be brought (ie. salty vs. sweet dishes, sides vs. desserts...). For an example, at family reunions we divide it by common family members.
Depending on how casual you want your event to be and what kind of audience you have, you can even start a Google Doc so everyone knows what to expect! You'll never have to worry about unexpected surprises!
It's totally fine to rely on your guests to an extent. Obviously, you'll still be putting in a lot of elbow grease as the host, but don't over exert yourself or your guests. The main point of dinner parties is to have fun!
I hope this helped! You can now use this at your next hosting event so you can really have fun and enjoy your time with your guests!
Send us your hosting and entertaining tips too!
XOXO - Darbie