8 Tips For Hosting A Flawless And Inexpensive Dinner Party
Though the thought of having multiple guests in your humble abode may seem daunting, there's no need to stress or overspend! Avert any feasible disasters with the following 8 tips for hosting a flawless and inexpensive dinner party. This reasonable approach will be a hit among your guests – without breaking the bank.
1. Don’t Procrastinate
The more you plan ahead, the more streamlined the entire formation process will be. Disregard what you have heard – procrastination is not the key to success, particularly when hosting a dinner party. Allot enough time for all aspects of preparation, including cleaning, decorating, shopping, cooking and setting up.
2. Check With Guests
When inviting your guests at least a few weeks beforehand (to establish your get-together as a priority of utmost importance, of course), ask about food allergies and other dietary needs. Then, you can safely begin to brainstorm the menu: appetizers, entrées, dessert and refreshments.
3. Favorite Dishes Only
Always go with what you already know. Trusted recipes are favorites for a reason, and they are more likely to be a hit with your guests as well. Even if you rock that chef's apron with uber confidence, never-attempted recipes requiring complicated techniques can result in a total flop and ensuing panic.
At least one week in advance, finalize your menu choices and generate a shopping list. At least two or three days prior, visit the grocery store with the shopping list in hand. Check for coupons and good deals to save where you can!
4. Simplify Your Menu
Make-ahead recipes, such as casseroles, lasagna or pot roast, help to reduce day-of cooking duties and stress. These dishes are typically economical and can serve a greater number of people for less money.
Dessert is a meal course where you are allowed to “cheat." Store-bought brownies, cakes or pies are fantastic time and money savers. Just dress up these desserts with small, special touches, such as a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream, slices of fresh fruit or a drizzle of a melted chocolate and raspberry sauce. These little details will make your desserts look impressive and taste extra-delicious.
5. Welcome Small Contributions
There is nothing wrong with accepting help, especially if you are a lone soldier hosting multiple people, or you have a set budget.
However, turn down offers of appetizers or entrée dishes, unless you intend to throw a potluck style dinner party. Instead, allow your guests to bring a dessert item or a bottle of wine. Multiple bottles of wine can add up to become a costly expense, when purchased and supplied by just one person. And have you ever heard anyone complain about too much wine or too much dessert? Didn't think so.
6. Refresh Your Guests
Always have enough ice and enough wine (tip #5 can help ensure the latter). Rule of thumb: Buy more than you think you will need, and enjoy unopened bottles later.
Meanwhile, have non-alcoholic beverages available, including fruit juice and extra mixers and garnishes for just as pretty – but booze-free – cocktails.
7. Timing Is Everything
Your dining table and overall party décor should be ready at least an hour before guests arrive. This gives you plenty of time to get dressed; heat up dishes (actual cooking of main dishes should be already completed); and assemble any last touches.
Also about an hour before guests arrive, remove any dishes from the fridge that should be served at room temperature to allow full development of flavors. Precooked, make-ahead dishes should be removed from the fridge at least an hour before reheating for faster and even cooking.
8. Encourage Mingling
If your guests don’t know each other, don’t forget about introductions! Particularly as attendees are trickling in, have mini cocktails or snacks like nuts, olives or a cheese board available (this selection can act as the appetizer course). Your guests may feel more comfortable with at least a drink or finger food in one hand.
A good playlist with upbeat, familiar songs will add life to your dinner party's atmosphere. During dinner, lower the volume and change the tone to something relaxing.
When dessert is complete, rather than shoo everyone out the door, gather around the fireplace or in the living room to let the food digest and to chat. Offer guests coffee or another drink. Adult-friendly board games like Cranium, Catch Phrase, Trivial Pursuit and Cards Against Humanity are foolproof ways to keep the party mood up and going.
Most importantly, don't forget to partake in the socializing! It's easy to get lost in the hustle bustle of hosting a dinner party and become overwhelmed with anxiety for everything to go exactly as planned. Breathe. Do the dishes later, pick up a glass of your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon and enjoy your carefully planned and flawlessly executed dinner party.