Animation of guests enjoying a formal dinner party with wine

Our Top Tips for Hosting a Dinner Party

It takes all kinds…

Here to illustrate that idea is our staff’s list of the top tips they have to offer for hosting a successful dinner party.

Let us state: this was intended to help initially, but as most things go around here, it devolves into foolishness pretty quickly.

Here goes:

Katie’s List

  • Music. It keeps the party going.
  • Have appetizers out while you wait for the stragglers to show up.
Andre’s List
  • Music sets the tone for the entirety. Have a bluetooth speaker linked to your phone so you can quickly control the vibe of the room throughout your entire event.
  • Some guests may not be able to consume alcohol for various reasons, so always keep some sparkling water (La Croix, Topo Chico, Perrier, etc) on hand in addition to plain drinking water.
  • For wine, better quality & less quantity > more quantity & less quality. Don’t be a snob about it if you talk about the wines – everyone is at a different part of their wine journey, so be inclusive and enthusiastic about it.
  • Serve dishes you’re already good at preparing – unless you’re a pro chef, leave the experimenting for your own time.
  • Prep smaller dishes/sides early so all you have to do is garnish and serve, giving you more time for bigger ticket items.
  • Clean up the night of so you don’t wake up to a bunch of crusted dishes.
  • People go crazy for deviled eggs. You should probably make a tray of these.

Caroline’s List

  • Cook food that can be prepared ahead of time so you can entertain your guests when they arrive.
  • Do not serve things like spaghetti or peas that are difficult to consume neatly.
  • Fresh cut flower arrangements make dinner a beautiful experience.
  • Clean your wine glasses with a glass cloth ahead of time so the table setting looks extra sparkly.
  • Make sure your lighting is juuussssttt right.
  • Time runs away when getting all the final elements sorted for your dinner party, it helps to make a schedule of all the things that need to be done so you can make sure you have enough time to unwind and pamper yourself (e.g. wash / blow dry / set hair…etc).
  • If dining al fresco, remember to check the gas for the outdoor heater! Nothing more annoying if it runs out mid-dinner.
  • If planning a party with a loved one, remember to plan together about how you’re going to co-ordinate your guests throughout the night: Who is the main meet & greet, who is tending to the cloakroom, who is the music maestro, who is the chef/sous chef/drink pourer…etc.
  • Always buy more alcohol than you think you’ll need, nothing more embarrassing than a house that runs out of drink!
  • Pick the right music! This can make or break an evening. E.g. old people coming means I’ll be playing my Brazilian Jazz album, vs my Millennial friends it’ll be something loud and electronic.
  • Be very selective about your guest list – the combination of guest personalities is the catalyst for a great evening. Just because you like everyone doesn’t mean everyone else will like each other.
  • Serve champagne on arrival to get guests loosened up.
  • Prepare the dining table to match your guests knowledge of social and dining etiquette and/or generation (no guest wants to feel embarrassed / uncomfortable).
    • Do NOT discuss politics or religion.

Jessica’s List

  • As the host, enjoy the party too – your guests vibe off of you so enjoy yourself – don’t stress for perfection.
  • Being together is the joy of a dinner party – keep everything in perspective.
  • Introduce new friends – be social and try and to talk to everyone if you can.

Jen’s List

  • If you have a small house take advantage of outdoor spaces.
  • Create different stations/tables so people can move around and experience different pairings and conversation

Henry’s List

  • Set up stations- DIY Bloody Mary station, DIY old fashioned station, DIY Mojito station. I’ve even seen DIY pizza station. Turns cocktail-making into something interactive, allows strangers to introduce themselves, also saves the host some time.
  • Have enough napkins in plain sight. Have enough toilet paper in bathroom.
  • If circumstances allow, you can order a roasted suckling pig from Chinese barbecue spots, or roasted whole leg of lamb from Chinese-Muslim eateries.

Tom’s List

  • You never thought you would use that empty bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche Grand Cru that you kept around did you? Fill it up with Lot 909 Oregon Pinot Noir and don’t tell your guests. Let them believe they are drinking a $3,500 bottle of wine. They’ll never notice, Lot 909 is that good, I promise!
  • Oysters are good, but getting them served to you by beautiful women is gooder. For those of you in the Bay Area, hire The Oyster Girls, a traveling oyster bar to serve your guests prior to the dinner. Lot 876 Lodi Albariño would make an excellent pairing.
  • These days there’s app for everything to save you time. Hire a private chef, hire a cleaner, hire anything you want through Thumbtack. It’s a marketplace for professionals that bid on jobs you post. I’m a huge fan of this service, especially since they fired my ex-girlfriend.

Ryan’s List

  • Don’t drop the food.
  • Don’t drink too much and fall asleep while guests are still present.
  • Don’t mistake a chair for a toilet.
  • Don’t flatulate as you’re seeing your guests off.
  • Do have a blast and enjoy the company!

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