Throwing a dinner party for friends, family, or perhaps even colleagues or important clients, always seems like a good idea when you first think about it. You can cook some lovely food, entertain your guests with witty stories, great music, and a welcoming ambience, and everyone will have a great time.
The truth, however, might be somewhat different. Dinner parties can be highly stressful events, often because you are so focused on getting everything perfect that you can easily miss things or make mistakes. This means that far from the relaxed and enjoyable dinner party you intended, your guests (and you) feel tense and just want to leave as quickly as possible. This is why it’s crucial to know how to throw a stress-free dinner party. Here are some of the things you can try to achieve this goal.
The food is both the most important element of a dinner party and the one that causes the most stress. Often, dinner party hosts will try to create brand new dishes because they sound fancy and look impressive, but this is a mistake. It’s actually much better to stick to food you already know how to cook. That way, there won’t be any mistakes and you’ll know exactly how to do what you need to do – that includes getting the timings right.
It’s also a good idea to make as much of the food as you can in advance, so when you’re choosing your menu, take this into account. Preparing dishes the day before and simply putting them in the oven and ensuring any fresh food (such as vegetables) are ready is much easier than trying to do everything on the same day – while you are also cleaning the house, making the dining area look good, and getting yourself ready.
You need to remember that you don’t have to do anything by yourself if you don’t want to. If you know that it’s going to take time to get everything ready, have some family members help out – maybe your kids can serve the food, or perhaps they can be in the kitchen dealing with drinks.
If you prefer, you can have someone deal with everything for you. Get a caterer to ensure the food is perfect. Ask them as many questions as you need (such as what are canapés?) and you’ll be able to create the ideal menu while someone else will cook it all for you. You can then simply concentrate on being a wonderful host, and the food doesn’t need to be a concern at all.
Another way to find that you become very stressed when organizing a dinner party is if you have strict plans in place and then find those plans aren’t working out. This might be because someone arrives late, doesn’t come at all, or too many people arrive because some guests brought a plus one.
If you try to stick rigidly to your original plan when other things are changing around you, you’ll become frustrated and stressed. If, however, you are able to be flexible, you’ll find things are much easier. So make more food than you need and put in a contingency for latecomers. You’ll enjoy yourself a lot more that way, and your guests won’t feel awkward.