Preparing for a Dinner Party
With summer winding down in a couple months and more entertaining opportunities arise, the nerves of planning a party start to set in for many. Personally, I always fear that something major will go wrong and everyone will notice what a huge disaster it is and deem it the worst party they’ve ever been to! Dramatic, I know. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m my own worst critic and that only I will notice what went wrong or what isn’t in the right place. My guests will have a fabulous time, no matter what!
There are definitely numerous tips and tricks I use to plan a party that helps keep my nerves at bay and I’m here today to share it with you all!
First and foremost, figure out your guest list and pick a few dates that might work for everyone. Then you’ll want to send out a query email to gather which dates works best for your guests. If you’re trying to have a party during major holiday season, try to have parties a couple weeks in advance of the big holidays so everyone will still be in town and you’ll be able to have a full house.
Second, be sure to ask what everyone’s dietary restrictions are. As a food blogger, I’m conscious of these things, but if that hasn’t crossed your mind, it could be something that is very important. Wouldn’t it be horrible if you created a carb-central party (say a pasta party) and your gluten-free friend couldn’t have one bite? Definitely prepare yourself in advance by asking for everyone’s dietary restrictions!
Next, after you’ve gathered all the important information, you can start menu planning! What I like to do is start with a blank piece of paper and sketch out a grid and write down categories within those grid boxes. I typically have a box for appetizers, drinks/cocktails, main entrees, gluten-free options, dietary restrictions, desserts. After you have your menu planned out, it’s time to write out your shopping list! This will probably be extensive, especially if you don’t have these items already in your refrigerator or pantry. I’d suggest shopping 2-3 days before your event. Getting groceries the day before can be extremely stressful and that’s what we’re trying to avoid! By doing the shopping a few days in advance, you can make sure you have every ingredient. If your main store doesn’t have what you need, it still gives you time to run to another store to get it. Can you imagine shopping the day of the event and having a panic attack over an ingredient not available at your store? Let’s not do that! You’ve gotten this far in the planning process, let’s keep it up!
A day before the event is when I like to look at my menu again and make sure I have cooking times written next to the dishes and on a separate piece of paper, write down which dishes to do first and which dishes to follow. You want to order it from longest cooking time to the least cooking time. You’ll also want to group dishes that cook at relatively the same amount of time and also that can cook together at the same temperature to save time and oven space!
On the day of, relax! Enjoy and have fun. Don’t stress – you’re already well-prepared and so what if something goes wrong? Hiccups happen to the best of us and you just have to take it in stride! Your friends and family will understand and I’m sure are just more than happy to be spending time with you than over a mishap.
Hopefully this helps you all out as entertaining season is about to commence!