We’ve all experienced the relative or friend who shakes their head and mourns the new generation that can’t boil an egg. While it’s true that millennials enjoy the easier option of dining out in their busy lifestyles, they still appreciate the value of hosting a classy dinner. Everyone enjoys the cost-effective, often healthier choice of a homemade meal, and it’s even better when you’re enjoying it with friends. Here are nine tips for the novice dinner party host:
- Start small. Don’t take on a meal of Thanksgiving dinner proportions. And do the same with your guest list. Figuring out proportions and how to manage a number of guests takes practice, so increase your guest size gradually. It’s much easier to gauge the flow of the evening with a smaller group of people. Starting small allows you to enjoy the evening without too much stress.
- Ask about food preferences or allergies beforehand. Nothing is more awkward than accidentally serving steak to a vegetarian. This gesture also makes guests feel appreciated, and it let’s them know what to expect beforehand in case they want to bring something to share.
- Practice your chosen dish before the night of your party. That way, you aren’t rushed and less likely to encounter surprises. MyRecipes has a list of simple, elegant dishes that would be perfect for the evening. Or, if you have an instapot, try out some of these recipes.
- Don’t feel pressure to make everything at home. Of course you shouldn’t toss a frozen pizza or package of Oreos on a platter, but it’s totally okay to opt for some store items, like breads or cheeses, that add to your meal and save you some effort.
- Make whatever you can in advanced, and begin the actual cooking earlier than you think you should. Even seasoned hosts will tell you horror stories of frantic efforts to repair botched meals minutes before guests arrive. It’s better to reheat the lasagna than serve it partially raw.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring side dishes or drinks, but don’t ask too much of them. Maybe you’ve been to that party where the host doesn’t provide much other than the kitchen table. Your friends will be happy to contribute and add their own personal touches to the meal, and the inclusion of their favorite treat will be something to talk about and bond over.
- Pay attention to ambiance. It means the difference between a hangout and a dinner party. Tidy up and light a candle or two. You’ll feel more put-together, and your guests will feel more festive.
- Accept help with the cleanup. You don’t have to send your guests to the kitchen after dinnertime, and sometimes guests ask only to be polite. But if you’ve declined assistance with after-dinner dishes or dessert-serving once or twice, you can assume that your guests really does want to help and enjoy the company and conversation while you clean up.
- Don’t expect perfection from the first, second, or tenth time as hostess. Practicing hospitality is a skill that requires time and experience. Enjoy each night as a learning experience and enjoy your new appreciation for a well-executed dinner party.
And of course, get some dinner wear! We love this set!