Dinner Party Hosting – How to Host the Perfect Dinner Party

Dinner party hosting & planning is made easier when you take steps to organize and create a checklist for yourself. After you send out your dinner party invitations take a look at these planning tips. This is our version of how to host a dinner party – a complete checklist.

Dinner Party Invitations
Dinner party hosting

Dinner Party Hosting Timeline

4 To 6 Weeks Before Your Dinner Party

  • Decide the theme and whether you wish to host a casual dinner party or a formal dinner.
  • Remember to choose a theme that will suit the interest of your guests. Putting the guests comfort first is an important part of dinner party hosting.
  • Who is the dinner party for? ( work, friends, family, etc..)
  • Establish your budget. Try this dinner party budget calculator.
  • Create guest list.
  • Create dinner invitations.
  • Establish a time and place. With PurpleTrail invites, you can build consensus with your guests to make sure everyone can attend.

3 To 4 weeks Prior To Your Dinner Party

After you have established the type of dinner party you’ll be hosting and have a guest list, it’s time to start thinking about the dinner party food and decorations. These are some things you can do about a few weeks in advance. Use these suggestions for your dinner party hosting inspiration.

  • Create a menu.
  • Book caterers and bartenders if necessary. (When booking a bartender, try one of your local bartending schools, they often will work for just tips in return for the practice and experience.)
  • Make a grocery list.
  • Plan a cooking schedule (what can be made ahead of time, what needs to be made they day of).
  • Decide on the table setting and place orders with a rental company, if needed.
  • Buy or borrow serving pieces and accessories.
  • Purchase or create dinner party favors if desired.
  • Check specialty stores for hard-to-find food items.
  • Select music.
  • Purchase candles or other outdoor lighting if needed. Candle light is an inexpensive way to create an elegant ambiance. Check out an interesting post on a smashing summer dinner soiree.
dinner party hosting

Dinner party invitation by PurpleTrail.

1 To 2 Weeks Prior To Your Dinner Party

As the countdown is on and you receive RSVP’s for your dinner party here’s a checklist of things to gather and create. Follow these dinner party hosting tips and your party will be a success!

  • Purchase nonperishable goods.
  • Decide on the types of drinks to be served. (If you hired a bartender, finalize your order)
  • Consult with a florist or check out your local farmers market for great seasonal blooms.
  • Place special orders with the butcher, fish market or grocery store.
  • Confirm plans with the caterer, entertainer, and serving help. Arrange for a sitter to watch children and pets during the party.
  • Buy gas or charcoal for the grill, if needed.
  • Decide on a party outfit.
  • Begin a thorough housecleaning – enlist family members for help!

2-3 Days Before Your Dinner Party

  • Clean serving ware.
  • Purchase remaining grocery items.
  • Check recipes for how far in advance food can be prepared.
  • Start food prep.
  • Create a party-day game plan.
  • Determine seating arrangements- if needed.
  • Print place cards, if using them.

Day Before Your Party

  • Buy a great gourmet coffee blend.
  • Pick up any dry cleaning needed for the party.
  • Continue housecleaning- make sure the powder room is stocked with plenty of soap and TP.
  • Continue food preparation for those dishes that can be made in advance.
  • Set your tablescape.
dinner party hosting

Dinner party invitation by PurpleTrail.

And finally, things to do the day of your dinner party

  • Finish cleaning the house.
  • Pick up party orders.
  • Create a bar area.
  • Take out extra supplies.
  • Finish cooking.
  • Organize the kitchen for the final countdown.
  • Give yourself a breather- have a glass of wine.
  • Get in party mode- the fruits of your labor are about to pay off!

With the dinner party in full swing, here are a few things to keep in mind

  • Try not to spend too much time in the kitchen- your guests want to see you!
  • Offer refreshments in between courses.
  • Follow your list for last-minute dessert preparation.
dinner party hosting

Dinner party invitation by PurpleTrail.

Items to check and stock up on for your dinner party

  • Make sure you have space on your coat rack, plenty of hangers or a separate room to put coats and bags in.
  • Create a place for boots or umbrellas if weather requires them.
  • Get plenty of ice and make sure you have an ice bucket, and ice tongs or scoop.
  • Cocktail napkins
  • Toothpicks
  • Paper towels
  • Plates (appetizer, salad, dinner, dessert)
  • Glasses (water, wine, mixed drink, beer, soda, coffee); some beverages can use the same type of glass
  • Silverware (enough for all courses and stirrers for coffee)
  • If grilling, check the tank, charcoal, and lighter fuel. Make sure you have plenty of bug spray and citronella candles too.
  • Coffee and assortment of tea bags
  • Cream and sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Wine and bottle opener
  • Bar garnishes (lime, lemon, olive)
  • Film for the camera – or make sure your digital camera is charged and has an empty memory card in it!
  • Garbage bags
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Club soda (for spills and spots)
  • Space to chill beverages. It only takes beer, wine and soda 20 minutes to chill on ice. A large tub or cooler can be set up in a room out of the way.

Post Party

After your smashing dinner party, keep a journal. Include what you served, who was there, and how it went. Make notes on how to improve your next dinner party as well as what made this one successful! We hope you enjoyed our dinner party hosting tips and ideas.

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