Hosting a Dinner Party: Everything you need to know

| |

Food and drinks with friends and family sounds like an ideal night at home. So, why do dinner parties spark a feeling of panic as you realize you have to do a LOT more than just setting the table? To help you host a casual or formal dinner party, we’ve gathered out top tips for hosting so you can throw the best dinner party of the season.

The do’s and don’ts of hosting a dinner party

If there’s one thing we do well at Gathar, it’s knowing everything there is to know about hosting a dinner party. Here are our biggest do’s and don’ts if you’re planning to be the host or hostess with the mostest:

  • Do plan a reason for your banquet. It could be as simple as celebrating a long weekend, or a more obvious cause like a birthday.
  • Don’t feel confined by your home. It doesn’t matter if you live in a studio apartment; your company and the amazing food make a dinner party what it is.
  • Do create a party atmosphere. Pick a theme for your feast and decorate accordingly. You don’t have to go all out; just clearing away your everyday clutter and putting a few touches on the table will make the evening more memorable.
  • Don’t overlook dietary needs. Before organizing your menu, speak to your friends about nutritional requirements. You want your guests to feel comfortable, relaxed, and enjoy their evening — not anxious about what they can or can’t eat.
  • Do serve appetizers and dessert. Finger food is an excellent way to start a major munch as your guests mingle around while you are (or your chef is) in the kitchen.
  • Don’t spend all night in the kitchen! If you’re planning to cook yourself, try to prepare most of it before the guests arrive. Better yet, hire a professional chef to cook a delicious meal for your group.

How to plan a dinner party

To ensure your principal meal goes off without a hitch, there are a few details to consider. Follow our tips to organize the perfect meal. 

1. Make a timeline

If you plan ahead of time, you will ultimately pull off a better party. With everything organized, you can relax and enjoy yourself at your own party. It’s best to start planning your party at least two weeks before the big day. 

Make a timeline of what you need to do and how long each task will take. This will ensure every little job is taken care of and you won’t forget to lay the dinnerware sets or put the drinks in the fridge on the day. If you’re too busy to pick up the dessert or shop for wine, consider outsourcing to the professionals. 

Outdoor table setting

2. Choose a theme

To decide on a theme for your dinner party, think about what other parties you’ve attended and enjoyed. Whether you prefer more formal settings or warm, welcoming, intimate dinners is up to you and your guests. 

Alternatively, you could choose a movie theme or era. Make sure your table settings and menu suit your theme for a balanced atmosphere. You can find decorating ideas and theme inspiration online (Pinterest is a great resource).

3. Dinner party invitations

Get your invites out to your family and friends as soon as possible. Don’t worry if you haven’t finished planning your party; you don’t have to give too much away in your invite. Your invites should detail the time, location, and theme of the event. Make sure you ask for dietary requirements and ask guests to RSVP. 

With more formal affairs, you might want to send handwritten cards. However, you could get away with an SMS, email, or social media group message for a more relaxed gathering.

4. Create a dinner party menu

Now for the main event: the food! When planning your dinner menu, you should include at least appetizers, the main course, and dessert. Remember to take your guests’ dietary restrictions into account (i.e. don’t serve steak when there are several vegetarians present).

If you plan to cook for yourself, practice your recipe first. Don’t attempt a new dish on the day without a backup plan. And if you really want to impress your dining table, ask Gathar to help. Our menus cover everything from comfort food to luxurious, formal dinners. Alternatively, we can help you curate a personalized menu especially for your guests.

5. Sort the playlist 

No dinner party is complete without a good playlist. Keep your music choice in line with your theme and add a few songs everyone will like. Remember to keep the sound down — you want background music, not turn your table d’hôte into a disco. You could also make a collaborative playlist and invite all your guests to share the role of DJ. 

6. Be a good host

Whether you’re hosting your first dinner or tenth, the most crucial thing is to be a good host. When your guests arrive, introduce them to each other. Keep the glasses of wine topped up and encourage a social atmosphere.

The worst thing you can do as a host is keep hidden in the kitchen all night. Fair enough, you will need to check your pasta isn’t boiling over, but try to spend as much time with your guests as possible. With a Gathar Culinarian at your side, you won’t need to worry about what’s happening in the kitchen.

7. After the party’s over

Once the party is over, you’ll have to face the clean-up. You might want to get some of the washing up out of the way as soon as everyone has finished eating, but there’s no harm leaving the bulk of it until morning, so you don’t abandon your guests. Our chefs will clear the dinner table and clean dirty dishes, so you don’t have to worry about anything.

Thank all your guests for coming, whether with a note, text, or email, keeping in line with the formality of your party.

Stylish table setting

Formal dinner party ideas

Formal dinner parties require a little more planning than a casual get-together between friends. For example: you’ll want to ensure everyone has the right wine glass for the right kind of wine. You could organize party ideas by cuisine, event, or themes. Here are some of our most popular cuisines to get you started:

  • Tapas
  • Italian
  • Vegan
  • Greek
  • Thai
  • Indian
  • Chinese
  • Paella
Gathar private chef serving food
shot by Jasmin Sleeman for Beauticate x Gathar

Get your own personal chef with Gathar

The food is the center of the dinner party. Choose from one of our menus and sit back with a glass of wine while our chefs prepare your guests a meal they won’t forget. And don’t worry – we’ll clear everything away too. To ensure it all goes off without a hitch, speak to Gathar about how we can help you throw the ultimate dinner party.