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How to host the perfect dinner party

How to host the perfect dinner party

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Great food, plenty to drink, and sparkling conversation – what’s not to love about a dinner party? Well, nothing really. But for the person hosting, dinner parties can be more a cause of stress than a celebration. So, to help you achieve a more flawless and fun-filled gathering with friends, we’ve put together our top tips on how to host the ultimate dinner party.

From dinner party games and decorations to dinner party invitations and the menu, we’ll reveal all the secrets when it comes to hosting a dinner party guaranteed to impress your guests.  If you’ve been wondering “What should I cook?”, “What theme should I have?”, “Whom should I invite?” Don’t worry, we’re here to help guide you and ensure you’re prepared to host the perfect dinner party. 

Send your dinner party invitations early

Without any guests, it’s not a dinner party! So, the first step in hosting a dinner party is to send out your invitations. Ideally, you should decide who you’re inviting around three weeks before the event itself.

You’ll need to check when all your guests are free before finalising the date but try to arrange it over a weekend, preferably Friday or Saturday, so you can all relax while tucking into some delicious food.

Once you know the date, if you’re being formal or want to make it an event to remember, you can buy or make your dinner party invitations. Be sure to include the date of the party, your address and what time to arrive. These days, while it’s easier to ping your friends a quick text message inviting them to your event, this won’t have quite the same effect as a paper invitation, and they could even end up forgetting they’ve got plans. 

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Pick a theme

Yes, dinner parties are fun as they are, but if you want to host the event of the year, make sure your dinner party has a theme. There are plenty of super fun dinner party theme ideas to choose from, allowing you to get creative and input a touch of your personality into the gathering.

When you incorporate ideas for themed dinner parties, planning becomes much simpler. After all, the food, decor, invites, and dress code can all be based on the theme you choose, ensuring everything flows seamlessly. But what kind of theme should you choose? Here are some of our favourite dinner party theme ideas:

  • Murder mystery dinner party
  • Mexican dinner party
  • Wine and cheese party
  • Retro dinner party
  • Casino night dinner party 

Decide on the food

When hosting a dinner party, many make the mistake of going too extravagant with the menu. While this might impress your guests, it’s better to plan a meal that won’t take you away from entertaining for too long. Try to choose dishes that can be prepped in advance or even made and kept fresh in the fridge. This will free you up to be the attentive host, keeping the drinks and conversation flowing throughout the night.

If you have an open-plan kitchen and dining room, this might be less of a concern for you as you can cook and chat at the same time. If this is the case, though, try to make something that you just need to check on now and then, such as a risotto.

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Get plenty of drinks

Wine? Cocktails? Beer? Soft drinks? Whatever is your tipple of choice, make sure you have lots of variety to suit all tastes and enough to go around. Try to match up your drinks with your dinner menu. If you’re serving fish, opt for a refreshing white wine. Mexican? A Mexican beer or lager. Or, if you’re cooking red meat, red wine is the best option. If you're feeling really fancy, discover our selection of bar cart ideas, perfect for wheeling out on occasions like this.

However, if you are concerned about your guests spilling drinks on your brand-new carpet or your shiny laminate floor, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our handy guides on how to care for carpets and how to care for laminate flooring.  

Set the scene

From decorations and tableware to lighting and accessories, when it comes to how to host a dinner party, setting the scene is integral to the perfect evening. Go all out to make your home as inviting as possible; head to your local florist to pick up some flowers, light some candles to create a calming ambience, and dress your table to the nines with your best crockery, cutlery, and glassware.

However, there’s no point making so much effort with the dinner party decor if your house is a mess. It’s time to clear all those notebooks piled up on your dining table, put away unnecessary kitchen accessories and hide all the kids’ toys. But it’s not just about tidying, when it comes to hosting the ultimate dinner party, you need to make sure your home is spotless. That includes cleaning your carpets, wiping down the kitchen, polishing the windows and disinfecting the bathroom. 

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Organise fun dinner party games

The fun needn’t stop after you’ve eaten at a dinner party. If you’re looking to spice up the evening, be sure to organise some fun dinner party games. Once you’ve got the meal out of the way, turn your attention to something a little less sophisticated.

Whether it’s a classic like Twister, a simple-but-effective round of “Who am I?” using post-it notes stuck on foreheads, or one of your favourite board games, make sure you’ve got a good selection of dinner party games to hand. And some cocktails to accompany them, of course. 

Clean up straight after

Now all the fun and games are over, you’ve likely been left with some mess that needs to be cleaned up. It can be very tempting to put off the big cleanup for as long as possible – perhaps you’ll just do it in the morning? – but we can guarantee you’ll feel much better if you just get it done immediately. Gather all the plates, glasses and cutlery from the table and throw them in the dishwasher or, if you don’t have a dishwasher, leave them in the sink to soak overnight. Blow out the candles, pick up the game pieces, take down the decorations and wipe up any spillages.

Dinner parties are a dangerous trap for drinks spilling or food being dropped on the floor. Whether it’s carpet, laminate, vinyl or engineered wood, you’ll want to make sure you clean anything up as soon as possible. Check out our care guides to restore your floors to their sparkling clean glory once the party’s over and done, or discover the best flooring for dining rooms.

Now you’ve read our tips on hosting a dinner party, it’s time to get planning your next get-together. Choose the dinner party invitations, pick a theme, plan your menu, buy some decorations, organise some dinner party games, and prepare for the post-party clean-up. Alternatively, if you're hosting in the summer, why not send out some garden party invites instead? And, if you want to find out more about which flooring type is best for hosting a dinner party, check out our guide to the best flooring for kitchens.

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Published: 01-12-2022