food

'I’m a chef and food influencer. Here are my 6 best hacks for hosting a dinner party.'

A great dinner party isn’t just about the food. While food is arguably the most important element, there is so much more that goes into planning and executing an amazing night around your dinner table. 

From the perfect playlist to an aesthetic tablescape, flowing conversation, and a relaxed atmosphere, nailing these little details can lead to an unforgettable night.

It can be downright intimidating for a host to get all of that right, on top of serving a homemade meal. However, I’ve been hosting dinner parties for years, and have learned plenty of tricks along the way.

Watch: Not sure what to bring to a dinner party? Ask the host. Post continues after video.


Video via Potluck Video.

I’ve found that with time management and a few simple hosting hacks, I can plan and actually enjoy a stress-free dinner party with my guests. 

These are my top tips to throw a fabulous dinner party for your friends, and be your best self throughout the entire process.

1. Do the prep ahead of time.

First and foremost, do as much as you can the night before so you wake up feeling prepared. Have your favourite tunes playing whilst doing so. I can’t tell you how much of a game changer this is, and it’s actually enjoyable the night before, as there’s less time pressure. Here's what I like to get out of the way:

  • Sharpen your knife to make cooking and prep easier. Having a sharp knife to cut onions and garlic will change your life, I promise.
  • Do any annoying prep jobs like chopping onion, garlic, and herbs. This also avoids onion tears of mascara running down your face one hour before your guests arrive.
  • Refer to the list of items you are serving. Go through your cupboard and select the dishes you want to serve everything in. If there are quite a few, label them with Post-its so you don’t panic about what’s going where on the table when it comes to plating dishes into server ware.
  • Set the table: tablecloth (instead of ironing this, I use a spray bottle of water to dampen it, then smooth it down with my hands), napkins, plates, cutlery, server ware, candles and flowers. If I’m serving a lot, I try to keep the tablescaping to a minimum, allowing for all the food to fit on the table comfortably.
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  • A job that is never best left for the day of: Choose your outfit, iron and hang it.
  • Find a playlist on Spotify/Apple music (or quickly message one of your friends asking them to do this for you - chances are, if you’re not hugely into music, you have a friend who is and would love the task).
  • If you’re going there: Write menus and place cards. Go to Pinterest if you need inspo. They don’t need to be perfect or fancy, but having this really does make the evening feel more special for you and your guests. I have also been known to use a nice tray or plate from my kitchen, write the menu on it with a chalk pen and prop that up against something so my guests can see what they’re having.

2. Don't be afraid to delegate.

I like to assign my guests a drink or a side dish each, especially if I’m catering for over six people. Don’t feel bad for delegating as in my experience guests love having direction and contributing to the dinner. 

Removing the pressure of serving a cocktail or a salad frees up time, effort and fridge space and often my guests go all out with their one contribution because they only have to focus on a single thing, which is so fun!

3. Grab some conversation cards.

Brighten up the conversation by introducing a conversation card game. There are plenty of options that can be ordered online - including my set of food-centric conversation cards, perfect for a dinner party! 

Scatter them along the table so you can naturally reach for one when the table gets quiet.

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4. Get your recipes in order.

Typically, with a dinner party, you’re going to be using multiple recipes from different places. Even if they are from the same place, they’ll still require separate tabs open on your laptop or different pages of a cookbook.

I like to consolidate all my recipes into one place by creating a Google Doc or Word Doc and copy pasting every recipe for it. I also put my to-do list for the night at the top of this dock. That way, everything I need is in one place.

5. Set reminders.

My tip for avoiding cooking disasters on the day of hosting (especially once your guests arrive and you are distracted) is to use reminders and alarms for perfectly timed food.

I love doing this on my Google Home, the greatest addition to my kitchen, and it can also be done using Siri or an Alexa or any other smart home device.

All it takes is a simple, ‘hey Siri, set an alarm for 1.50pm to preheat oven’, and you’re covered. I’ve burnt too many onions by not setting a timer!

6. Tackle the dishes together.

My last tip, at the end of the night, is to get everyone in the kitchen to do the dishes and stack the dishwasher. It’s always funny, there’s dishwasher stacking etiquette banter, and the old saying is just so true - many hands make light work!

Happy hosting!

Feature Image: Instagram @intothesauce.

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