10 Dinner Party Hacks To Transform You Into The Ultimate Host

There's a reason we don't all host dinner parties every week: They're stressful, time-consuming, and hard work. Having a few friends over for dinner on a Friday evening is always so much more work than you imagined, no matter how well you know them, how little you are actually cooking, or how relaxed you want the evening to be. However, these dinner party hacks are here to help make hosting easier, resulting in a more elegant dinner party and a calmer, happier host.

Buy the Hors d’Oeuvres

Unless you're an expert cook, if you try to cook an entire three-course dinner party yourself, you're never going to enjoy it, and you'll never want to host again. Save yourself a lot of work by buying the hors d'oeuvres. Olives, crostini, cheese, charcuterie, hummus, chips, and fresh bread are all perfect cocktail accompaniments and don't require you to do anything.

Dietary Requirements

Make sure you ask your guests whether they have any dietary requirements as soon as they accept your invitation. This then gives you plenty of time to plan the menu accordingly, makes you seem like the most thoughtful host, and hopefully ensures there's no unwanted surprises when someone announces they're vegan once you've all sat down to eat a delicious roast leg of lamb.

DIY Drinks

Avoid having to spend the evening playing bartender, but make sure your guests do have plenty to drink by letting them help themselves to cocktails and wine. Set the cocktail ingredients and garnishes out on a bar so your guests can help themselves to drinks when they arrive. Leave the wine out on the table so they can keep pouring it throughout dinner. With plenty of drinks for your guests to pour themselves, you'll be making your party seem incredibly generous while also saving yourself an extra responsibility.

Fresh Flowers

There's no need to put a significant amount of effort into your dinner party décor, but a little touch will go a long way. A few short-stemmed fresh flowers in low vases on the table will look simply perfect; just make sure that they're small so that you and your guests can see over them to whoever is sitting on the other side of the table.

Lighting Levels

Nobody ever really enjoyed a dinner party when they were eating under such bright lights that they felt like they were in sitting in a hospitalTurn the main lights down and just use side lights, lamps, and plenty of candles to instantly give your party a romantic, intimate setting.

Napkins and Napkin Rings

By setting your table with napkins tucked neatly into napkin rings, you instantly make your dinner party seem more elegant and refined. If you don't have a set of napkin rings, you can make your own either by just using twine or a pretty strip of washi tape.

Seating Plan

As soon as there are more than four people sitting around your dinner table, you should always create a seating plan. It doesn't matter if you're all friends already — a seating plan will always help the evening to run more smoothly. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to make some pretty place cards, adding a super fancy (even if they're incredibly simple) touch to your table.

Set the Table the Night Before

Avoid any last-minute stress, and make sure that you at least look like you're ready for your dinner party, even if you feel far from it, by setting the table well in advance. If you do it the night before, that's just one thing you can avoid worrying about on the day itself, when there's so much else to focus on.

Wine Knowledge

Even if you are many miles away from being a wine connoisseur, to be the ultimate host, you need to swat up a little. Go to your local wine shop to buy the drinks for your party, tell them what you're planning on cooking, and ask them to recommend something. Then listen carefully to what they say and suggest, and pass this information on to your guests so they can see that you've thought the wine pairing through. They'll be impressed by your wine knowledge, and the really don't need to know that what you just repeated back to them was the true extent of what you know.

Write a Menu

You may not be the most confident cook, but you should be proud of what you're serving at your dinner party (even if lots of it was actually made by your local deli). Make the party seem like a curated, cared-for occasion by writing up or printing off a menu for the evening.