So you got volunteered to host this year’s holiday party. Before you go hide in the closet and drown yourself in tears worrying about how to get it all done without looking like a chicken running around with it’s head cut off;take a deep breath, and let me help you plan your menu. I LOVE entertaining, it’s easy for me, but I know that is not the case for many people. I am going to share a few things with you that I always do when hosting a dinner that will make your night much more enjoyable. Over the next few posts I will share fully planned menus with you. I even made you a printable (which took forever because it was my first time) to track everything- you can download it by clicking the link above image and then save the PDF that opens in a new tab. (You have no idea how long this took/how excited I am to share it with you- yay for small victories!)
3 Tips for Successful Dinner Party Hosting
- Plan ahead as much as possible, put it in writing
- Pre-make as much as possible in advance
- Have a wing man, and let them help you
Downloadable Party Planning PDF
Planning is so important. And from my experience the best way to execute a dinner party without any road bumps is to put your plan into writing, or even drawing. List out all the items you will have on the menu including beverages and desserts. Then make a grocery shopping list based on that list. Also think about what you will be serving each item on or in. I like to set up the table like I would on that night and in each dish put a post-it note with what is going in the dish. Put whatever serving utensil will be used in each dish so that you are not scrambling to find another serving utensil while people are standing in front of the potatoes waiting for you to get something to serve with before the food gets cold. If guests are bringing a dish always assume/plan that you will need to re-plate it and provide serving utensils for it. Put aside all the dishes and utensils you will want to use so they don’t get misplaced. If you are going to use disposable dinnerware and cups you will need to add those to your list. If you are not using disposable, make sure you have enough for all your guests plus a few extra- forks get dropped and glasses get left in odd places. I highly recommend setting out a way to mark cups/glasses right by the beverages.
When you have your whole plan laid out it relieves you from having to rely on your memory, immediately reducing your stress. Try to plan for as much as you can, even things like the centerpieces, beverage dispensers, ice buckets, trashcans and extra seating where people may tend to congregate can make it easier to enjoy the night. Planning ahead (especially the menu) will also allow you to save some money- use the weekly mailers from your local grocery store to help plan your menu utilizing items on special.
It’s important when hosting a party that you get to spend time enjoying your company and have fun too, not just cook and clean and worry about whether you just burned the dinner. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make as much as you can ahead of time. Many items can be made 1-3 days in advance and simply reheated in the oven before serving. This spreads out the work over a few days and keeps you from having to clean up so many dishes on the night of the party. And if you do accidentally mess anything up, no problem, you have time to re-do it or fix it. For each menu option I give I will also give you hints on what you can make ahead or how to prep to make cooking a breeze. Make sure you let anything that will be reheated come to room temperature before reheating so that the center will get warm without overcooking the edges or the top.
Have a wing man
Pick someone who is attending the dinner, it could be your husband, your BFF, or another guest who you know loves to entertain and let them in on your plans for the evening and show them where everything is. Ask them to be your backup in case you need help refilling the cheese plate or stack of napkins, or trying to complete the finishing touches on what seems like a million dishes of food. If you can have a few things that you already know you will need them to do, explain it to them in advance and your night will flow seamlessly. Even if they don’t do much, just knowing they have your back can be huge help in reducing your stress levels.
Check back on Friday for the first of 3 fully planned menus along with notes on how to prep and save some time and energy when preparing them.