Who doesn't love a good dinner party? I for one am a super fan! I love getting everything ready, making sure the house is clean and the menu is prepped. But what I really love, is setting a table. Each is different, making each unique for the guests.
Whether you have attended and help many dinner parties over the years or you're new to the scene, here are a few GO-TO can not fail tips that I have accrued while planning for the easiest of guest to the those who make you nervous! Over the years planning for events and parties, I became known as the etiquette Specialist, whether true or not, I sure do have a few tricks up my sleeve!
The Pampered Mom's Go-To Tips for Hosting the Perfect Dinner Party
1. Start Early: Not necessarily that day, start days before. Write down your menu and grocery shop ahead of time, not the day of. That way if you have to order something special, you'll know for sure you'll have it on hand. When choosing the right menu, make sure your guests don't have any allergies you're unaware of. It's always a good rule of thumb when you're cooking for more than your family to have options. If you're serving shell fish, add a meat option. If you're serving a meal that required meat such as chicken, steak or pork, have something available to whip up in a moments notice if someone is vegetarian. You can't please them all, but they'll be impressed you were able to give them some variety!
2. Cleaning: You should consider doing all mild cleaning ahead of time. You're house should be about 80% clean before the day of so you're not running around with your head cut off. For me, I make sure that the house is kept, everything is in it's place the night before. I personally love to fine-tune, clean floors and bathrooms the day of, so that they look and smell fresh for all that attend. Also, you never know where your guests will end up. You think you don't need to clean that hall closet? Think again, your guests could think that's the bathroom door and open it up. I make sure each room in the house is cleaned and vacuumed. I also love placing fresh flowers throughout the house as well. This is a costly finish, but it makes a lasting impression! When I was little, my parents took me to a strings concert in Branson, Missouri called Shoji Tabuchi. It was magnificent, but you know what I remember most? The Bathrooms! Literally, they were the most amazing bathrooms I have ever been in. So you know what I do now? I put something special in ours that impress our guests. Each time is different, but lately I have been fond of this local sugar scrub I found here. I place it in a small glass dish with a small spoon and wa la! Easy and remembered!
3. Music: You really should have some idea of the mood of the dinner party before hand. Is it fun and casual, is it more posh and trendy? Whatever the mood you want to set, you should do so with the music you select. You never want guests to walk into your house and there is science. The week before start compiling music for the evening and create a playlist. Try it out the night before while you're cleaning and make sure the music isn't too loud during dinner!
4. Prepwork: The day of I actually prep the entire meal. It calls for a handful of basil, you bet I am placing that in a dish and labeling for the evening. I literally cut, chop, mix, blend everything before the night begins, that way, it's SUPER easy to through together. Thinking of trying a new dish? Not for a dinner party! Everything you decide should be tried before you serve to your guests. Seriously, that could be disaster! Especially with the way I cook! You will also want to set the table. I always set mine pretty formal looking. I just like the way it feels, I like my guests to feel pampered but honestly, it's just personal preference. Trust me, if we're doing a taco themed dinner party at the house, I will still be setting the dining room with my best fiesta dinnerware, with three glasses per setting and silverware and linen napkins ... because that's what I like! Why three glasses you ask? Because I always offer my guests water, a paired wine to go with dinner and I always finish it up with a champagne toast. I mean really, who doesn't love a little bubbly before dessert?!
5. It's in the Details: Seriously though, it's IN THE DETAILS! You can plan for weeks and still if you forget the little things ... your guests may forget the night. Not really, but you know what I am talking about. Give them something that will last, that will stay on their tongue a bit. For me, if I am serving a salad, you better believe that salad is ready to go, in individual bowls in the refrigerator ahead of time. Always chill plates and bowls that will be serving something cold, just as a rule of thumb! Butter? Make sure you whip your butter and place in individual tubs and chill, take out an hour before dinner. It's the little things. I know I mentioned flowers earlier, but something about fresh flowers on the tablescape creates a warm and inviting place. When all these details are in the air, don't forget to delegate. For me, I always make my husband the designated bartender and he is always in charge of the music. For me, I always rule by:: create the scene you want, and then add candles!
6. And lastly, as Ina Garten says, "Greet your guests at the door in socks, slippers, or barefoot - it sets a fun, chill vibe right away." Have fun, relax and enjoy the evening. You deserve it!