Hosting an amazing dinner party

Hosting an amazing dinner party

Hosting your first real dinner party is a big project depending on your style. However, there are some dinner party tips you might want to take into account when you’re organising a party like this. Here are some tips on how to throw the perfect dinner party, whether it’s a Christmas dinner, a Thanksgiving dinner, a birthday dinner or just because you can!

The menu

This is a pretty obvious first tip, but you need to think about the food when you’re organising your dinner party. There are thousands of recipes out there. It can be super hard to make a delicious, cohesive menu that everyone will love. Therefore, you need to plan it a little bit in advance. My first step is to ask everyone what they can eat and what they don’t like. This will make the search for recipes already a bit more focused, which is exactly what you need.

The second step is to choose a theme within your menu. This can be based on a specific country (Italian food, Asian, etc.), a colour or even an ingredient that comes back throughout the dinner. For instance, you can use berries, since they’re very versatile. The appetizer can be crostini’s with goat cheese or prosciutto with blackberries. The main dish chicken in cranberry sauce, veggies and potatoes and for the dessert some ice cream with strawberries or forest fruits. Although these dishes are all really different, they do have a commonality. Other ingredients that lend themselves for themes like this are tomatoes, lemon or fish (although that last one doesn’t work for desserts).

Another important tip for a great menu, is balance. You don’t want people to end up hungry, but feeling too stuffed isn’t nice either. Therefore, you don’t want to create all heavy dishes. For instance, a stuffed turkey is delicious for Thanksgiving, but a piece of chocolate pie is way too intense afterwards. This is also dependent on the season. In winter, heavy dishes are more accepted than in the summer time.

dinner food

An important part of making a great menu is to make it doable. Key to this, is the timing. On the one hand, you don’t want your guests to have to wait too long in between courses. However, you don’t want to be in the kitchen constantly as well. In addition, if you want to make things in advance (which I recommend!), you need to find recipes that won’t burn if they’re on low heat on the stove, but that’ll stay warm like that as well.

My tip here is to find fast and easy recipes as appetizers, so you can focus more on the other courses. I tend to go for recipes with a great sauce for the main course. This way, I can prepare the sauce in advance. Most sauces are better if they’re prepared slowly on low heat for a longer time anyways! The other ingredients will be roasted on high heat pretty quickly, like deer or fish, or cooked like rabbit or chicken. You can also use the oven for these things, but remember you only have one. Therefore, you can’t do a cake or something for dessert if you use the oven for the main course.

Another thing regarding the timing is to make a schedule in advance on how long everything has to go for. You don’t want your meat to cool off if your potatoes are still boiling or the other way around. I’ve found that all equipments are slightly different, so if you really want to be prepared, you can do a trial run for your main course where you mainly focus on the timing. This way, you’ll be all prepared for the real deal!

The decorations

To get the festivities going, you’ll need to dress up your dining room and especially your dining table. To create a classy ambiance, you want to keep it simple, yet fun. I often use one eye-catcher on the table. This can mean a beautiful candle holder or table piece. However, you can also think about coloured plates or glasses with a nice pattern. For instance, it can be really cute to have a big white plate. Put a coloured or patterned plate on top and then place a white bowl (this is nice when your first course is soup). Or, if you don’t need that many plates, you can turn it around like here!

An important thing to think about is where you plate the dishes you serve. Are you plating them yourself in the kitchen? Then you’ll have a little bit more work, but more room on the table for decorations. Are you putting the pots and pans on the table, so everyone can grab however much they want? Make sure you leave enough space on the table to put it all down!

I also recommend working with a colour scheme that you can use throughout the room. My house has a lot of forest green and many plants in it. So, when I decorate my table, I always put down a white table cloth with a green table runner on top and a candle standard with golden leaves. This is a subtle way to adjust the table to the theme of my house. When your house contains a lot of wooden items, it might be cute to have wooden napkin rings and wooden bowls on the table. If you’d like a fun element, you could also have a little dinner party dress code that you can match to your table.

dinner table

A little understocked?

Especially when it’s your first dinner party, you might not have enough of the same type of plates and glasses for everyone and that’s fine! You’ll just have to place everything strategically. It depends here on how much guests you’re having and how many things you have of the same type.

playful table setting

If you’re having a dinner party with 6 people, you can have type A plates/glasses and type B alternating. Another option is to just have the 2 people on the heads of the table have different plates/glasses. If you’re having a dinner party for 4 people, I generally prefer the 2 who are the furthest away from each other to match (or the 2 people opposite each other on a round table). If you have nothing matching, give everyone a different colour or style entirely! This way it’ll still seem planned. Be creative, it will give your table a playful look!

Normally, you have a different set of cutlery per course and you work from the outside to the inside. However, if you don’t have that much cutlery, you can also take this with you when planning your menu. Soup might be a good appetizer in that case, so you can skip the double knives and forks. Since dessert is usually eaten with smaller spoons and forks, this can won’t be much of a problem as well there.

The guests

Of course, you want people that you like at your dinner party, that’s not what I mean with this tip. Instead, I want you to focus on their likes and dislikes. We already discussed this a little in terms of asking your guests beforehand what they can’t or won’t eat. However, you can match more aspects to your guests. For instance, how formal do you want the dinner to be? In formal settings, it’s normal to have a table setting. Nowadays, we often place husband and wife next to each other. In the old days, it was good etiquette to place them opposite each other to prevent them from doing nasty things under the table (yeah, seriously!). What do you like better? However, if your dinner is somewhat less formal, you can leave a table setting behind.

dinner party with friends

You can also match whatever you’re drinking on your guests (red or white wine, beer, or something non-alcoholic?). Another thing to consider is the way you plate. Putting the pans on the table gives a much more cosy vibe. Plating it in the kitchen is more fancy. Are your guests big eaters or are they more into smaller bites? For instance, if you have a varied group in terms of taste, you might want to think about small bites like tapas or finger foods instead of a three course meal.

You can also match the situation to how you entertain your guests. A group of friends or family might be fine to just talk during dinner and maybe play a game afterwards. A less familiar group might however benefit from some soft background music, so silences are filled up more easily. If you’re really afraid of awkward situations, you can even think of some conversation topics beforehand! You could also play with a dress code for your dinner party if you’d like to get it more formal. That would be more awkward with friends.

It’s time to go home

I hope these dinner party tips will have prepared you a little for what needs to be done to host a great evening. I get that it can be a little overwhelming when you’re planning it. However, once the dinner party project is on it’s way, it’s so much fun! What are your ultimate dinner party ideas? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you liked this post, please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, so you’ll never have to miss a new post.

Bon appetit!


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Hi there! My name is Lisa and I am the author of Mind and Body Intertwined. I have a bachelor's and a master's degree in psychology. During my study, I found out how much the mind and the body are connected and it fascinated me, which is why I started my blog. Would you like to join me on this little corner of the world?

42 Comments on “Hosting an amazing dinner party

  1. These are great tips! Besides hosting Thanksgiving dinner one year, I haven’t had another dinner party. I find coming up with a menu difficult because I just want to make everything haha

    • Hahaha I recognize the problem, I have the same! Maybe you can write down some ideas for next year as well 😏

  2. Great tips Lisa! I feel like some people are naturally good hosts. I am not one of those people, it always stresses me out and I’m too worried about keeping everyone happy that I never actually enjoy it. Maybe this will help… Next year. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷‍♀️ We’re still being encouraged to keep things very small. Thanks so much for the great tips, and Merry Christmas!

    • I can imagine! I think everyone has a little bit of stress, but it’s a shame if you can’t enjoy it. I think preparation is key to this, so you don’t have to do too much on the day itself anymore.

    • Thank you! It works pretty well for things like this 😊

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post! You share some great tips on hosting! Thanks!

  4. This post would have really helped me last month during Diwali. Now I can use the tips here for Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I never hosted a dinner party before… But now I kinda want to 😡 Sadly enough, we’re not allowed to have more than 2 people visit a day…

    • Why not host a small practice dinner party for to? Maybe treat your parents to one? 😊

    • Thank you so much! I think of doing a dinner party just with my parents this Christmas, so I can still do the menu and dressing up the table a little. It’s not the same, but it will feel special as well!

  6. Oh wow, I’ve never hosted Christmas at my place. I knew it was a lot of work involved, but I never thought that you can get this detailed. How do people make it seem so easy with table placements, gifts, decor, food, and all? I’m amazed! Thanks for sharing these tips and a sneak peek into what it takes to host Christmas.

    • Haha I doubt everyone will go this far, but with my family it always is about a month of planning haha. I love it though, the preparation is just as much fun and it makes Christmas even more special!

  7. I have a huge struggle with timing, normally having to write times on a menu schedule! The idea of a sauce, a lovely sauce reheated, is such a good time saver – and can really make the meal. What a great guide.

    • Thank you so much! I hope it’ll help you next time when you’re planning!

    • Hopefully it’ll feel extra special when you are able to do something again!

    • Thank you so much! I hope you’ll be able to host one soon!

    • I never thought I’d enjoy dinner parties as much as I do, but it creates a really warm depth in relationships I find, because you get to really talk to each other, opposed to normal parties.

    • I hope you’ll be able to again soon, they’re so much fun!

  8. I’ve honestly never hosted a dinner party! It’s very intimidating for me to prepare a meal and plan a dinner for others that aren’t family. I’ll have to work up the courage and try it one day!

    • Maybe you could start with doing it for your parents (anniversaries are a great time for this) and go all out then. If that works out, you can do it for close friends and start casual. Build it up a little? I can imagine that a big dinner party is a little much to start with!

  9. I can’t wait to host a dinner party now, once we can. I never even thought about having a theme for the menu, and I love your idea of using easy recipes for appetizers to focus on the other courses. The alternating plate idea is such a good suggestion as well! Thank you for sharing. 😊

    • Thank you so much! My mom is amazing at throwing dinner parties, so I learned a lot from her. I hope we’ll be able to soon!

  10. I love dinner parties so much and I can’t wait til I can host one again 🙂 I always do themed dinners as well and they are always a hit Great tips xo

  11. I can’t wait to have a dinner party, with coronavirus and not being able to go into other people’s houses it’s made it so difficult!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

    • That sucks! In the Netherlands, we can have 3 people over from outside the house per day, so that’s a decent amount for a small party.

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