12 Tips & Tricks to Making Your Dinner Party a Success

Everyone loves a good dinner party! They are one of the best ways for loved ones to get together, catch up, and enjoy each other's company. Hosting one, however, can be a daunting task! Luckily Honeybutter is here to show you it doesn't have to be, with a few tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way. We will show you how to avoid biting off more than you can chew, without being afraid to get creative and have fun! After all, this is your time to shine! Our tips will keep you organized and stress-free, so you can enjoy the occasion alongside your guests.

Start Small – Build Confidence

If you are new to hosting or want to try your hand at it, build your confidence by starting with a small group. Hosting 4-6 guests is a manageable number that will keep you from feeling overwhelmed as you build your skills and confidence.

Set the Atmosphere

Without getting too fancy, you can create the perfect environment for your guests. Music and lighting will go a long way. Find or create a crowd-pleasing playlist; music that is soothing and non-intrusive to conversation. Dim the overhead lighting and spark some candles. Top it off with a nice tablecloth, good dish ware and fresh flowers. These are simple additions that will an inviting atmosphere for your guests.

Find Out About Allergies Ahead of Time

No one wants to find out that one of their guests has an allergy or dietary restriction moments before serving a dish you’ve worked so hard to prepare. Check in with your guests before developing your menu and plan accordingly. It would be  shame for one of your friends to miss out on a dish, or be stuck with veggies and dip while everyone else has the pleasure of enjoying the meal you worked so hard on.

Strategically Plan Your Menu

This is probably the most important step! Ambition is great, but don’t bite off more than you can chew! Stick to dishes you are comfortable making. It is helpful to select dishes that can largely be prepared ahead of time. This will allow you to enjoy the time with your guests rather than have you stuck in the kitchen while the fun carries on in another room. Small bites such as appetizers or tapas are a great option that will help keep the night casual, and keep you out of the kitchen.

Prepare & Plan Ahead

The best thing you can do for yourself is prepare as much as possible ahead of time. Having a solid menu planned a week in advance gives you the time to shop for the necessary ingredients and make any needed adjustments. The day before your dinner party, you should accomplish two tasks. First, but certainly not least — decorate! If you’re anything like us, you won’t want to rush this step! Set the table, and take care of any other decorating you wish to accomplish in order to set your atmosphere. Secondly, complete as much food prep as possible. Food preparation may include chopping vegetables, baking your dessert or assembling a dish that simply needs to be popped in the oven later. Getting these tasks out of the way the day before will ensure you are able to create the look and feel you’ve envisioned, and remove some “day of" stress. Trust us, you will thank yourself later!

Start Early… Even Earlier!

Everything always takes longer than we think it will, especially under a time crunch! You may run into an unforeseen obstacle that will add stress if you don’t have enough time to rectify it. On the day of your dinner party, determine how much time is required to accomplish your to-do list, then gift yourself at least one extra hour.

Clean as You Go

When the evening comes to a close and everyone starts parting ways, the last thing anyone wants to do is tackle the looming pile of dishes, cutlery, and cookware that inevitably builds up when hosting. Of course you can leave them for the morning, but after all your hard work, coming back to that mess is the worst! Avoid 3 a.m. bedtimes and next day chores by cleaning as you go. Wash cookware, load the dishwasher and tidy up as items no longer become needed. After hosting such a successful event, you deserve to sit down and put your feet up!

Drink Selection

Always be sure to have a variety of beer, wine and liquor. Your guests may bring wine, but as the host(ess) you want to be well stocked. That includes having non-alcoholic beverages such as juice or punch, sparkling water or even virgin cocktails. Coffee and tea is traditionally offered after dinner; a natural pairing to desserts… and there must be dessert!

Always (& We Mean Always) Serve Dessert!

Dessert isn't just the final course to a meal, it’s the cherry on top! The perfect ending to a great evening that leaves a lasting impression! It’s a good idea to provide your guests with a sweet, after-dinner treat, served with tea and coffee. Your dessert does not have to be extravagant. Even a few cookies or a small slice of pie can be enough to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.

Serving Style

To help keep things casual and stress-free, consider serving your meal family style or create a buffet table. Not only does this help you with set up and serving, it allows your guests to customize their plates. You will find this serving style induces an easygoing and inviting feel among the room. Don't be surprised if you see your guests going back for more!

Maintain Expectations

Naturally, you want your party to be perfect; and with these tips you are well on your way! However, it is important to manage your expectations. If there are any hiccups along the way, don't let them derail your plans or ruin your evening! There is no need to feel ashamed if the chicken is slightly overcooked, or your pie crust didn't turn out the exact same as last time. Don’t apologize — embrace it! Your family and friends will appreciate your efforts regardless, and you should feel proud of what you’ve accomplished! You worked hard, and that should not be diminished!

Outsourcing? Why Not!

It's great if you want to accomplish everything on your own — all the power to you! The ambition is great, but that overwhelming feeling is definitely not! Don't be afraid of outsourcing, or letting someone cross a task off your list for you. Buy a salad from your favourite deli, or ask the kids to help with food prep. If one of your guests wants to contribute to the meal, consider taking them up on the offer. And always remember, Honeybutter is here to help!

These little tips will make all the difference for you in the preparation stages, and will truly elevate your next dinner party! Get inspired, be daring, be proud, and most of all, have fun!


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