How to Plan the Perfect Dinner Party

Friends Having DinnerOne of my favorite things about living in my apartment is being able to host friends and family for dinner. We’ve actually reached a steady cadence… once a week, we have our next-door neighbors over for dinner, and every couple weekends, my bf-roommate Matt and I invite our parents and siblings over for a weekend dinner.

Growing up, our family life revolved around the dinner table. But I didn’t realize exactly how much goes into making it a success!

Follow this timeline to ensure BOTH you and your guests have a delicious time!

1-2 weeks out: Invite Guests

Decide who you want to invite, and ask them in advance to get the most attendance. If it’s a more formal affair, send your texts/evites further in advance to be polite.

1 week out: Plan Your Menu

My tips for picking your menu are to cook a meal that…

  • You’ve (successfully) made before
  • Can be partially prepared in advance
  • Meets dietary needs of guests
  • Isn’t too far out of the ordinary
  • Uses affordable ingredients

By following those, you can set yourself up for the best situation possible. If you’re comfortable with the recipe, and can prepare a bit of it in advance (think slicing veggies, mixing dry ingredients, marinading meat), you’ll be less stressed once people are over. Choose a recipe that your friends/family will enjoy, and that they all can eat (consider gluten-free, paleo, vegan etc. diets). Make sure not to break the bank either! No one is expecting filet mignon from you, so find a good recipe that uses chicken, or other inexpensive ingredients.

1 week out: Delegate Extras

One of the best parts of hosting a dinner party is that most guests will want to help! If they offer to bring something, take them up on it. Some popular things to ask guests to bring are:

  • Appetizer(s)
  • Salad
  • Dessert
  • Side dish
  • Drinks

It’s custom that if you’re the host, you’ll prepare the main dish.

2 days out: Confirm Guests & Buy Ingredients

A few days before the dinner, confirm your guest list so you don’t over-buy at the store. Then, search your local grocer’s advertisements, make your grocery list, and head to the store! Hopefully, you’ll already have a bit of what you need. Feel free to shop bargain, as no one will see the original packaging if you prepare ahead!

Dinner party day: Clean House & Prepare Meal

Before your guests arrive, spend a little while cleaning up. Make sure your dishes are ready (and clean), and set the table. Then, start your food preparation!

Again, this doesn’t have to be fancy at all. But successful dinner parties are organized, so try to plan a bit in advance and have fun.

Please share in the comments below your favorite dinner party trick or dish!

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Author My First Apartment

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Sarah is a dog lover and advocate for conversation & laughing at your own jokes. Since finishing her college career in communications, she began working (and living) in Atlanta. After living in a few different apartments over the last few years, she's ready to share experiences. Stay tuned for adventures, tips and advice!

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