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The Art Of Hosting The Perfect Dinner Party

The Art Of Hosting The Perfect Dinner Party

The art of hosting is one that is slowly being forgotten. Because it is an art. It takes a lot of planning, dedication, and a certain degree of charm to pull off a successful event. Too many people assume you can just invite guests over to your place and do zero preparation. And this might be acceptable sometimes. But for something like a dinner party, it just won’t fly.

I have spent the majority of my life working in the hospitality industry. I have done everything from washing dishes to event planning. I have hosted everything from casual BBQs to fine dining tasting menu evenings. Today I am going to walk you through the art of hosting the perfect dinner party. One that is sure to impress your guests and make you the talk of the town.

The Guest List

This guide will be focusing on a small scale dinner party. Assuming a maximum capacity of 12 guests and a minimum of 5. Any fewer than that and you are looking at a casual dinner. The first thing you need to consider is the guest list. You might think this is an easy choice, right? Invite your family and closest friends. But there is more to consider here.

Firstly, you need to consider how well all the guests know each other. If you have invited 6 of your closest friends and then one acquaintance, there is a chance that your acquaintance could start to feel a bit left out. They won’t be in on all the inside jokes or shared history. On the flip side, your close friends might not feel comfortable discussing certain topics around a stranger.

On the flip side you could host a party with a group of acquaintances who you want to get to know better. The evening can serve as a group bonding experience. Giving your guests a chance to meet new people and unwind from the stresses of daily life. If you are a fan of playing matchmaker you could use this dinner party as an opportunity to set up your friends with potential blind dates.

You also need to look at the dietary requirements of all your guests. Planning the guest list first is important as it means you can then design the menu around everyone’s preferences and dietary needs.

The Menu

The focal point of the evening. We will assume you have already collected the dietary requirements for all of your guests. Now it is time to plan your menu. You will want to decide if you are going to do three courses or two courses and some light bites for arrival. Personally I prefer putting out some serving platters of canapes or light bites to pair with the arrival drinks. This gives your guests a chance to socialize and nibble while you prepare the main course.

Your main course is your chance to show off your cooking skills. I recommend going for something simple yet elevated. Avoid anything too fancy. Simple ingredients done well are always going to be better than fancy ingredients done mediocre. If you have decided on doing a theme for the evening, make sure your main course sticks to this theme. For example, if you are doing a murder mystery night why not look at recreating some popular dishes from the 50s like Chicken à la King or a Green Bean Casserole.

Dessert can often be served as a single course or split into two parts. If you want to go for a single course you could make something a bit heavier. Cakes, pies, tarts, possets. These are all great options for a filling dessert that can be elevated with a few minor modifications. Or you could serve a lighter dessert and then follow it up with a cheese board. This is a great option if you are serving wine with your meal.

Selecting The Drinks

The drinks you serve are just as important as the food. It is very likely that your guests will bring along a bottle of wine as a gift. If you let them know ahead of time what food you will be serving they can pick a wine that pairs well. But make sure you buy a few bottles as well. Just to make sure there is enough for the evening.

I always like to prepare a speciality cocktail for the arrival drink. If you are doing a themed night you can make a drink that sticks to that theme. If you are hosting a Hawaiian themed night you could serve up a Mai Tai in a coconut cup. Or, if your night isn’t themed, you could go for some classic options like an Old Fashioned or an Aperol Spritz.

Not everyone is going to want cocktails or wine. So it’s always wise to get a case of beer as well. And, for those who don’t drink, make sure you have a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks such as juices, elderflower presse, 0% spirits and beer, or even create some mocktails for them to enjoy.

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