Organising the perfect dinner party – what will you need?

If you want to be the ‘hostess with the mostest’, you’ve got to get your party planning right. Your central aim is providing your guests with an enjoyable evening where they taste exceptional food and drink delicious wine. The planning can sometimes take longer than the evening itself takes, but extra organisation always pays off in the long run.

First things first, you need to decide when and where you are holding your dinner party. If it’s going to be at home, make sure it doesn’t clash with anything else and to help your guests out try not to plan the date over a national holiday, as people are usually booked up way in advance when it comes to Bank Holidays. Sometimes it can be fun having it on a school night, but it depends on the group you’re intending to invite and how early their starts are!

Next, you need to put your creative hat on and decide on a theme for the evening.

If you’re cooking Mexican food do you want people to dress for the occasion? Equally, if you have some outdoor activities planned you will need to give people some forewarning so that they can come prepared for whatever the British weather throws at the evening.

When you put together a menu (remember to ask about dietary requirements), write a shopping list alongside so you know what you need to buy and what you already have in the cupboards. Depending on the number of people you’re inviting, it might be cheapest to pre-order boxes of wine rather than buying from a supermarket but this is something you will have to research beforehand.

Don’t be afraid to suggest guests ‘bring a bottle’, it can lower the budget of the evening massively and people love introducing wines they are enthusiastic about.

Something you may not have considered is background music. It’s best to get this sorted at least a week before your party. If you’re going with a theme then stick to something that suits but if not then just choose a playlist that won’t interrupt the evening but is still pleasant to listen to.


Another thing to consider a few weeks out from the day is preparing those little extras. BBC Good Food recommends you make your own bread (obviously closer to the day) chutneys, cheese straws, ice cream and other bits and bobs that people usually assume are shop bought. The little things can sometimes be the most impressive. You’ll also want to create some ambience on the evening with candles, flowers and good lighting.

When you’re a couple of days away from the event, do your big shop and make sure you’ve got the essential items like napkins and plenty of cutlery. If you’re sensible, your menu will consist of lots of things that can be prepared before your guests arrive so that you can spend more time with them. However, it’s always fun to do some cooking on the night, plus it convinces your friends that you’ve actually cooked and not just bought posh take out food.

For a bit of fun when it comes to the cooking on the night, why not slip on a personalised apron, like these from Clothes2Order, so that you look the part? It doesn’t have to be your name, you could just go with something entertaining or Mr/Mrs Chef. Personalised products always go down well and it will leave your guests wanting one of their own.

Finally, for minimal stress on the evening, Popsugar recommends you keep the alcohol flowing and serve the food up family style, getting everyone to help themselves to their desired portions and chipping in with the clearing up. Rest assured, if you’re cooking something you know you love and have a good time then your guests will too.

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