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Planning the Perfect Dinner Party: 10 Tips

Getting together with loved ones is always exciting. Finally, it’s your turn to host, and you want to give the dinner party to end all dinner parties. With your knowledge of food, you should enjoy planning a dinner party, despite the obstacles you might run into. 

Now is your chance to impress with your party planning knowledge — and following these tips can make you look like you’ve been a pro all along.

1. Plan a Date

The most crucial part of planning a dinner party is choosing when it will occur. You can’t have the party without an appropriate date. First, you should consider whether you want to host your party indoors or outdoors. Indoors might limit your space, but unless you have a way to light your backyard through the darkness, time might limit your outdoor party.

As you think about your space’s strengths and weaknesses, consider the weather, too. You don’t want to plan a party too far off, but examining the Farmers’ Almanac for the best days to host a party can help you understand when the weather and other conditions will suit your dinner party. Almanacs tend to be relatively accurate, so they’re good to base your plan around.

2. Pick a Theme

Your theme sets the mood for how the whole night will go. Remember to choose a theme that reflects your intended guests and your style as a host. If you’re centering your dinner around an important holiday in your culture, you might consider making it your theme and offering dishes that reflect tradition and national cuisine.

Alternatively, you can choose a theme such as “plant-based” or “carnivore feast” to give your guests a good idea of what to expect. Alternatively, something like “A Night Under the Stars” can leave an open menu for just about anything you want to cook — and it’s a relatively simple theme to pull off as long as you plan your dinner late enough to where your guests can see the night sky.

3. Send Invitations

As soon as you have a theme, you should begin looking for matching invitations. You may choose different ways of inviting people depending on how you’re planning your dinner party. If you’re planning a dinner party that’s more formal, you should send out paper or printed invitations. Find a style that matches your theme to drive the point home. If your dinner party will be more casual or informal, simply inviting someone by telephone is enough.

Next, you’ll have to grapple with the idea of RSVPs. You should require RSVPs when you only plan on cooking a set amount and want to know who will be there. They’re also helpful if you’re hosting the party in your home, as they can help you understand how many chairs or tables you’ll need to prepare. Make sure to set a reasonable deadline for your RSVPs to come in.

4. Keep Decor to a Minimum

Unless you plan on having children at your dinner party, you should keep it classy and clean with your decorations. Since you’re planning a dinner party, all decorations should be kept in the dining area. You don’t want your decorations to be so overwhelming that they take away from the taste and smell of the food you’ve made, so keeping it to a minimum is a good rule of thumb.

While themed decor might not be the best look, you can still decorate the space around you. If you plan to host your party outside, consider hanging fairy lights above the tables. You can create intricate centerpieces for the number of tables you plan to include. Also, you can DIY  several classy centerpiece ideas that will fit any occasion without breaking your budget.

5. Dress Nicely

Planning an outfit isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve always opted to dress casually and comfortably. You’re planning a dinner party, which means that you need to look the part of the host. 

Depending on the formality of your party, you can choose to dress up or dress down, but you should always plan on dressing well and fashionably, as it allows you to look great and impress your guests. Make sure to pay attention to the weather so you don’t choose something that will keep you too warm or freeze you.

6. Select a Menu

At this point, you should know that planning a dinner party relies on a lot of coordination. Try to match your menu to your theme as much as possible. If your theme revolves around a time in history, try to find recipes from those dates that might be new and exciting to your guests. Otherwise, you might choose agreeable dishes that everyone will love.

You must keep your guests’ allergies in mind when building your menu. You might consider a note on your invitations telling people to reach out with any food allergies they may have before a specific date so you can plan around them. You don’t want to take any risks when building the best party you can. 

7. Design Drinks

If everyone attending your dinner party is an adult, you can plan for some fun adult drinks. You should make sure that your drinks and your food complement one another, as it enhances the experience for everyone involved. 

If you want to experiment with several fun drinks, consider serving appetizers along with them. That way, your guests can break the ice with each other while you put the finishing touches on dinner.

8. Build a Playlist

Having the right tunes is essential to planning a dinner party. You want to have a collection of music that everyone will recognize and like, but you don’t want it to disrupt the party’s mood. 

If you’re planning a more casual dinner, consider having some songs that could get people up and dancing after their meal. A more formal party could rely on classical music, which could help them eat more of the delicious courses you’ve prepared. The music you choose depends on the course you want your dinner party to take.

9. Check for RSVPs

Send out reminders before your RSVPs are due. Some people tend to forget or put off returning RSVPs because they see it as too early. A simple text, call or email to remind them to respond to you could help them understand the urgency of the dinner party. 

They may respond to you right away and give you an informal RSVP. Make sure to check in semi-frequently with the people who haven’t responded to you to get an answer from them.

10. Create a Checklist

Before the dinner party happens, you need a checklist to keep track of all the items you’ve prepared for your party, both edible and inedible. Checklists streamline the whole procedure and help you ensure you have everything ready and accounted for when it comes time to start your dinner party. 

Check over your list on the days leading up to your dinner party. If you do so in advance, you have plenty of time to buy or fix anything that may be missing or broken. All pieces have to be in play to keep your party moving smoothly, and checklists can help you achieve that effortless look.

Planning a Dinner Party Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

When planning a dinner party, you may be enticed to pull out all the stops. However, doing too much or too little can come off as overwhelming or disappointing to your guests. You need the right amount of everything — food, music, decorations and more — to keep everyone’s attention and show them what a great host you can be. 

When in doubt, make your checklist and alter it daily from the very beginning. When you’re ready to start your party, you’ll know that you will have given your best effort.

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