It sounds so grown-up doesn’t it? A sit-down dinner party with your friends is the ultimate I’m not a kid anymore. It also can mean you’re the fun gal that knows how to take charge of her own entertainment. Or maybe you’ve been adulting for a while now and prefer to hang-out at your place. This guide will help you host a dinner party that you and your friends will love!
So, what now?
Having your very first sit-down dinner party can be frightening and exciting all at the same time. Exciting because hey…people are coming to your place to enjoy your adult style dinner and yikes…people are coming to your place expecting you to feed and entertain them.
I’m going to help you plan out the perfect sit-down dinner party that your peeps will absolutely adore. I’ll include a checklist for you to use as a guide, suggestions for dinner and drinks. Lastly, I’ll provide timeline to ensure your party runs smoothly.
1. What is your budget?
This will determine how elaborate your dinner party will be. Setting a budget will allow you to control the party instead of the party putting you in the poorhouse. Decide on a dollar amount and let this be the backbone of your party planning.
You can make this as expensive or as frugal as you set your mind to do. Your guests will have the same amount of fun by following your lead. I prefer to be the Hostess with the Mostest who ain’t the brokest! You can use this template to make out a budget, click HERE.
2. How many guests do you want?
Remember, sit-down dinner parties are meant to be intimate get togethers so keep this number conservative. You could send out paper invitations by creating your own or store bought. Creating an event on Facebook would be a way to keep it green and not buy invitations. This is an example of an Invitation you can use
How big your table is could decide the guest count for you. Adding a table is acceptable if you need to; just match the table coverings. Children aren’t normally on the invitation list but maybe they’re on yours. No biggie, make arrangements where they can have their meal and keep their menu kid-friendly. HERE is a sample guest list
3. Plan your meal
Now is not the time to try a new recipe, use a family favorite or at least something you’ve successfully made before. Keep the meal simple and compensate with ambiance which is the mood or theme. Get a sample meal plan HERE.
While considering any of guests’ special dietary needs, there’s no need to plan completely around them. Be sure to offer choices everyone can enjoy. Guests with food allergies will alert you to their needs.
Also, think about hor’devours and how much you will need. A small bite of something is great but don’t go for anything too heavy. This is just to keep everyone from getting antsy before dinner. Get some hor d’ Oevours ideas HERE.
Be prepared to round out the dinner with something sweet. The dessert will surely be the highlight to the meal. You can have more than one if you like. A simple trick to getting everyone to enjoy your dessert is to offer it in sampler style. Small portions are the way to go.
Prepare a day in advance to save time or order from your favorite bakery. Either way, having a dessert to offer to your guests will que them that the evening is at least half over. Get some dessert ideas HERE.
Most dinner parties will include some type of wine or other alcoholic drink. Be sure to have some bottled water or club soda for the non-drinkers. Coffee is best with the desserts but of course let your guests choose their drink.
Check your wine glass and coffee cup inventory. Do you have enough matching wine glasses? Are there plenty of coffee cups and condiments available for everyone? Break out with the good stuff, now is the time to use it!
6. Themed or just table decorations
You can make this a ritzy event by hosting a themed dinner party complete with a requested dress attire or a casual dinner with only accent centerpieces. If this is your very first one, maybe stick with a simple causal atmosphere.
This is where I’m going to suggest that whatever you decide as your theme, use real cloth napkins. It makes a difference and distinguishes your dinner party from a regular meal. Get some decorating ideas HERE.
Oh, this is where the fun starts. Assign the seats with your guest’s names. This will keep out any confusion as to where everyone will sit at the table. Plus it adds to the charm to see your name on the little name cards. Get some name card examples HERE.
Take note of your seating in all the areas you expect your guests to be. The living room, dining room or game room should have enough seating for everyone. Chairs need not match but should make sense such as lawn chairs don’t belong in the living but could be used in a game room.
8. Music to set the mood
It’s always nice to have some background music playing. If your meal is a themed dinner it would be part of the mood to help your guests get into the fun of the character. If you’ve got a casual dinner party, choose something that fits in with your guest list. Get a playlist HERE.
- 1st hour: Welcome your guests. Serve the appetizers. Open the bar and or serve your beverages
- 2nd hour: Serve the meal
- 3rd hour: Offer coffee and desserts
- 4th hour: Announce a last call for drinks
Some Trick and Tips:
- Eat, Drink, Get Pampered… this is especially what your mommy friends are hoping for 🙂
- Make guests feel totally relaxed and comfortable. Everyone loves to be pampered.
- Balance the alcoholic beverages with plenty of food.
- Drinking without eating might be bad news.
- Provide the hor’devours early in the evening and supplement with munchie snacks strategically placed throughout your home.
- Start out with an empty dishwasher. You’ll be glad you’ve got that empty dishwasher just in case. But don’t start cleaning.
- Accept gifts but don’t rely on them. Someone may promise to bring wine or a covered dish and then forget.
- Offer the dessert in a different area from the dinner. This keeps the flow of the group entertained and everyone gets a chance to sit by you
Here are some points to remember:
- Your guests want to know what to expect, is it an inside or outside dinner? Expected dress attire…
- Some guests will arrive early, set your timeline to 30 minutes sooner than your guests
- Someone may not show up, it happens, more dessert for you
- Guests love congregating in the kitchen, expect it
- You might forget something, if it’s truly important, ask a trusted guest to help get whatever it is
- A guest might insist on helping, with everything, have a task set aside for just this time
- The weather isn’t cooperating and your dinner table needs to be moved, oh well, ask for help moving it indoors
- You run out of something, usually not a big deal, open a box of anything and move on
- It’s awkward for your guests if you’re frantically cleaning up behind them so don’t
- If dinner is late… let your guests know, they’ll appreciate your honesty
- The evening runs long…because everyone is having a great time… announce a last call, the bar is closing
- If this is a grown-ups only event, please spell it out in the invitation or there could be a misunderstanding
If any of these things happen, take a deep breath and move past it. Crazy things happen, ingredients run out and we all forget about the time. Forgive the situation and go forward with your evening.
Anticipating the needs of your guests will take care of most troubles but you can’t get hung up on the tiny details. Have a Plan B or even a Plan C if you feel like you need to. Everyone will have a good time even if the music stops playing.
Dinner parties can be as easy or stressful as you let them be. I say have fun with it and do the best you can. All your friends will think you’re wonderful for inviting them to your party!
Do you have any helpful tips for hosting a dinner party?