Ironically, as someone who hates to cook, I love to throw dinner parties. Fortunately where I lack in cooking skills, Joe makes up for it. We’re a pretty good team in the hosting arena and admittedly many of these dinner party tips are his. For those of you who know Joe & I, I’ll let you guess which of these come from each of us! (answers at the bottom)
1. Make sure there’s enough empty coat hangers in your closet for each of your guests. It’s uncomfortable for guests when they don’t know where to put their coat/shoes/bag, so make it obvious by making room for all their items! Same goes for clearing space on the kitchen counter for extra bottles of wine that your guests may bring.
2. Set the table ahead of time. This helps prevents the awkward “should the guests help you prepare dinner” scenario when you’re busy getting everything ready for the meal and guests are standing wondering if/how they should help!
3. In addition to setting the table ahead of time, I like to fill the water glasses prior to guests arriving. By simply added extra ice to each glass, you can ensure that the water will stay cold enough for dinner. It’s nice to have one less thing to bring out to the dinner table as guests are sitting down. Bonus points for filling up a pitcher of water and an ice bucket.
4. I used to not be a fan of putting the dishes in the dishwasher while my guests were still over, but I’ve changed my tune! I like to clear the tables after dinner, placing all the dishes in the dishwasher so that they’re out of sight before dessert (or additional drinks). Since we have an open floor plan layout, either Joe or I can be handling the dishes while still engaging with our guests in the family room. It’s so great to have clean up mostly done BEFORE the party is even over! Pro tip: start with an empty dishwasher.
5. Just as I like to start a party with an empty dishwasher, it’s nice to start with an empty garbage cans. Besides preventing having to literally ‘take out the garbage’ during the party, you also prevent any garbage-y smells from arising!
6. If there’s ever a course to go light & easy on, it’s the appetizers! I mean, who really wants left over appetizers??? I’ve learned the hard way that my guests never eat as many appetizers as I think. This typically means I spend WAY too much money on fancy cheeses or time making some elaborate dish.
7. Rearrange furniture as needed. I like to have pre dinner drinks in a different area than dinner. It creates a better flow of events and ensures that guests aren’t sitting in the same spot for hours on end. This means I typically need to pull out a couple more chairs in to our family room for appetizers & cocktails prior to dinner in the dining room.
8. The day / evening of a dinner party, I’m always running around with last minute details, so for the things I CAN tackle ahead of time, I try to. Just as I like to set the table the day before, I try to tackle any food related tasks ahead of time as well. Typically this includes at least cleaning & chopping veggies and making any dishes that can be made in advance.
9. Make sure cold beverages are in the fridge ahead of time. I’m thinking of you white wine! (admittedly I’ve been known to put ice cubes in my white wine from time to time, but not at my dinner parties!)
10. Think through the order of the oven use to ensure ideal timing of all the food. For example, if you’re making turkey or beef, the meet needs to rest for roughly 30 minutes after cooking. Try to use that time to put one of your sides or veggies in the oven.
Lindsay’s tips: #1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9; Joe’s tips: #4, 6, 8, 10.
Any tips we’re missing?
May your dinner parties be stress free and plentiful!