10 Tips for Hosting an Epic Dinner Party

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So you’ve got some friends, a nice pad and some pretty decent kitchen skills? That’s great, but hosting an epic dinner party requires a little more than that.

To throw a dinner party that people will really enjoy requires more than inviting a few friends over and putting some food on your table. It requires the strategy of a military campaign, the foresight of a seer, and the social etiquette of a Debrett’s doyenne.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to be a male Martha Stewart. This is about being flexible, organised, and most of all, relaxed. Invite guests, throw a few easy dishes together, set the scene, remain your normal, urbane self, and follow the tips below, and you’ll be ready to go.

10 Tips for Hosting an Epic Dinner Party

Invite Selectively

Let’s face facts: not all of your friends are amazing, and some people in your circle should just never, ever meet. Not everyone needs to know each other beforehand, but if you’re mixing strangers, try to make sure they have something in common. For the sake of entertainment, you can invite one or two outlandish, funny types, but avoid anyone who’ll make a dramatic scene or bore everyone with their unpopular political opinions.

Scout for Food Issues

Unfortunately, even the best people are susceptible to food allergies, and the last thing you want is someone blowing up like a balloon or going into an anaphylactic fit because they (and their shellfish allergy) came within five feet of a shrimp. Be a good host and check beforehand whether any of your guests have allergies (or dietary requirements) you should be aware of.

10 Tips for Hosting an Epic Dinner Party

Stick to Tried-and-Tested Recipes

This is not the time to turn your guests into guinea pigs, so don’t try and get all experimental with your food. Plan your menu using dishes that you’ve made before – having the confidence that they’ll turn out well is half the battle. If you absolutely must serve new dishes, try to make it once or twice before your dinner party so by the time the big night rolls around, it’s perfect.

Cook Strategically

You don’t want to spend the whole dinner party stirring the pot (at least, maybe not just in the kitchen). Cook smart so that you have plenty of time to socialise with your guests. That means having hors d’oeuvre set out before people arrive, choosing a dessert that can be prepped a few days ahead and stored in the fridge, and having a slow-cooking main that stays in the pot (or oven) until you’re ready to serve.

Take Shortcuts

There are times when putting in the hard yards pays off – this is not one of those times. You’re a busy man, and a couple of good hacks will let you throw a good dinner party with minimal effort. So choose easy hors d’oeuvres like chips and dip or charcuterie; set up a do-it-yourself bar, and order groceries and booze through a delivery service to save yourself a couple of trips to the store.

10 Tips for Hosting an Epic Dinner Party

Check Your Inventory

You’ll want to make sure you have everything you need for your dinner party present and accounted for well ahead of time. Check to see that you have enough wine glasses, serving plates and cutlery for everyone, and avoid the need for a last-minute run to the grocery store by ensuring you have all the necessary ingredients for your dishes a couple of days ahead.

Be Flexible

People can be flaky when it comes to social plans, so be prepared for unexpected guests. You might find that a guest who said they couldn’t come suddenly shows up, or an invited guest rocks up with an uninvited plus one. Your duty as a good host is to welcome them as if your nose hasn’t been put out of joint – which it won’t have because you’ll have thought ahead and prepared for exactly this scenario. The more the merrier, right?

10 Tips for Hosting an Epic Dinner Party

Delegate

As men, we’re practically hard-wired to reject help. We don’t need directions because we always know exactly where we’re going, and we certainly don’t need assistance to put together a little dinner party, right? Wrong. You want a great night without having to stress yourself out, so accept any help that’s offered. If your best mate’s girlfriend wants to bring dessert, let her. If someone asks if they can help during the party, don’t hesitate to (politely) put them to work refilling people’s drinks. Just don’t ask for help with the clean up – that’s on you.

Set the Mood

You want people to feel comfortable and relaxed as soon as they step into your place, so make sure you create the right ambience. Turn down the overhead lights and use lamps and candles instead – it creates a cosy atmosphere and airbrushes all the guests – a win-win in our books. Make a good playlist of easy-listening tunes for background noise – just don’t play it so loud that people can’t talk. If that’s beyond you (no judgement), just pick an appropriate Spotify playlist.

10 Tips for Hosting an Epic Dinner Party

Stay Relaxed

If you look panicked and stressed, your guests are not going to enjoy themselves. So take a deep breath and just relax. The party will be fine, and no one’s going to be bothered by a slightly charred casserole or the fact that a bottle of wine is corked. Just laugh it off.

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About Author

Always ready for her next adventure, Gayatri Bhaumik took her first flight at 10 days old and hasn’t looked back since. After long stints in Bangkok, Melbourne and London, she now based in Hong Kong.

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