20 Simple Steps for a Stress-Free Dinner Party from 20 Simple Steps for a Stress-Free Dinner Party

20 Simple Steps for a Stress-Free Dinner Party

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Dinner Party


20 Simple Steps for a Stress-Free Dinner Party

Hosting a dinner party doesn’t have to be impossibly complicated and stressful. Sharing delicious food and drinks that you have prepared, with several your closest friends may sound like a lot of hard work — especially given that you could just go out for dinner instead — but it really is worth the effort it requires. Keep the evening simple and fuss-free, and you can be the calmest-ever host, no matter how inexperienced at hosting dinner parties you really are.

Avoid Saturdays


Avoid Saturdays

Hosting a dinner party on Saturday brings with it a lot of expectation. Saturday night is the key evening of everybody’s weekend, and people will be hoping for a fantastic night. Skip Saturdays and host a more low-key party on a weeknight, or early on a Sunday evening, to avoid your guests’ high expectations stressing you out.



Bring in Appetizers

Don’t be afraid to bring in various parts of dinner. Appetizers are the best place to look for shortcuts, which can often be found at the deli. Whether you opt for a simple cheese platter, a selection of almonds, olives, crudités and dips, or warm, crusty bread and extra-virgin olive oil, no guests will complain, or really even notice, that none of your appetizers came out of your own oven.

Check Your Inventory

Photo Modified: Flickr / Didriks / CC BY 4.0

Check Your Inventory

Don’t wait until your guests arrive to find out that you don’t actually have enough wine glasses. Check to make sure you have enough flatware, serveware, and chairs before your guests walk through the door. You’ll be a lot less stressed when you know that there aren’t going to be any last-minute surprises.

Vegan Salad

Photo Modified: Flickr / Stacey Spensley / CC BY 4.0

Confirm Dietary Requirements

Don’t let yourself get called out for forgetting that one friend is gluten-free, and another is vegetarian. Make sure you ask all your guests — no matter how well you know them — if they have any dietary requirements at least a week in advance, before you start planning the menu.

Boeuf Bourguignon


Cook Big-Batch Food

Don’t be tempted to cook dishes that require you to prepare individual portions for each person. Opt for food that can be made in big batches, like a stew, a casserole, a one-pot wonder, or a decadent salad. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress, and it means you can relax with your guests, rather than spending the whole evening searing steaks in the kitchen.

Dinner Party


Delegate Wisely

If your friends offer to bring something to your party, say yes. Allow them to supply what they most love — whether it’s a cake, wine, or appetizers — and be grateful that you can now cross all these things off your list.

Cooking Couple


Don’t Cook Something New

dinner party is not the right time to try out a new recipe, no matter how fabulous you think it sounds. Stick to an old staple you know well, and if you really do want to cook something you’ve just discovered the recipe for, practice it at least once before the day of your party so that you know it really works.

Dinner Party


Invite Your Favorite People

You’re definitely going to be stressed about hosting your dinner party if you’ve invited a group of people you’re nervous about seeing, or who you don’t really want to spend time with. Invite your closest, most-loved friends, and the evening will be so much fun, no matter how the actual dinner turns out.

Small Party


Keep Numbers Low

If you’re not a seasoned dinner party host, don’t invite the whole world to your home to eat. Keep the numbers low: A maximum of eight people is a good rule to stick by until you’ve overcome the beginner’s stress of feeding and entertaining a crowd.

Burnt Carrots

Photo Modified: Flickr / Jules / CC BY 4.0

Laugh Off Mistakes

If you slightly overcook something, if you spill some wine, or if the dish doesn’t look quite as beautiful as you had hoped it would, don’t start apologizing and getting upset. Your guests probably won’t even notice, unless you point it out to them, and even then they really won’t mind. Remember to not beat yourself up about your mistakes: They don’t matter.

Chicken Dish

Photo Modified: Flickr / Jules / CC BY 4.0

Limit the Options

Don’t try to cook several different dishes. Starting with a range of appetizers, and then having two main dishes, multiple sides, and a choice of dessert is totally unnecessary. It’s a dinner party, not a restaurant, so people aren’t expecting a choice: Keep it simple, and people will love the food they are given.


Photo Modified: Flickr / Quinn Dombrowski / CC BY-SA 3.0

Make Dessert First

Unless you decide to make soufflés for everyone (which we advise that you don’t), dessert can be made at least a day in advance. By getting this part out of the way, you’ll be able to really focus on the entrée, making the day and evening of the party much less stressful than it otherwise would have been.

Chopped Vegetables

Photo Modified: Flickr / Guy Dickinson / CC BY-SA 3.0

Prepare Food in Advance

Besides baking dessert in advance, try to prepare as much of the rest of the meal as possible ahead of time. Sauces and dressings can normally be made the day before, vegetables can definitely be chopped in the morning, and salads can be combined, but not dressed, a few hours early. Plan carefully to minimize the work left to do during the party.



Put on a Chilled Playlist

One easy way to help get rid of any pre-dinner party stress is to play some calming music. By putting on your favorite playlist, you’ll ease your nerves, and will have created a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere, ready for when your guests arrive.


Photo Modified: Flickr / Breville USA / CC BY 4.0

Room Temperature Appetizers

Serving appetizers that are meant to be eaten at room temperature buys you a lot of extra time to spend putting the finishing touches to the rest of the meal. Set the appetizers out, ready for when guests arrive, so they can help themselves, while you get on with whatever needs doing in the kitchen.



Serve Family Style

Don’t place yourself under extra stress by attempting to plate everyone’s dishes individually. Trying to arrange the ingredients so they look beautiful while also serving the food before it gets cold is asking too much of yourself. Save yourself time and effort and serve family style, allowing everybody to help themselves to the dishes on the table.

Slippers and Wine


Set a Relaxed Tone

In order for your guests to relax and not be uptight and nervous, you need to set the right tone. Nothing puts people at ease, assuring them that they’re in for the most fun evening, more than a calm, cool, and collected host, whether that means opening the door in your slippers, or making sure you take the time to have a drink with the guests when they arrive.

Set the Table


Set the Table in the Morning

Be as ahead as you can be with your party preparations by setting the table in the morning. Getting this task out the way will mean you don’t have to concentrate on anything but the food that’s going on the already-laid table for the rest of the day.

Grocery Store


Strategize the Shopping

One thing that is sure to stress you out is spending a whole lot of time and energy sourcing the ingredients for your dinner. Try to minimize the number of shops you go to and the number of times you have to go to them.


Photo Modified: Flickr / Jeff Kubina / CC BY-SA 3.0

Wine Recommendations Will Help

If you’re not a wine connoisseur, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You want to make sure that you’re serving something that enhances your meal and pleases your guests. If you have a knowledgeable friend, ask them for help, or go to your local wine store and they’ll be happy to help you out.

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Slippers and Wine

20 Simple Steps for a Stress-Free Dinner Party

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