What is more fun than inviting your friends over for good food, drinks, and conversation? Studies show that sharing a meal with our friends and loved ones can make us both happier and healthier.
However, throwing a dinner party can be a little stressful and overwhelming, particularly if you are inexperienced. However, it doesn’t have to be – hosting a party at home can be stress-free and straightforward, especially if you start the planning and preparation well in advance and try not to get too hung up over the smaller details. Even if you aren’t the next Martha Stewart, you can throw a successful dinner party that both you and your guests will enjoy.
1.Ask about allergies in advance
While you probably know if your family and close friends have an allergy, it is always worth double-checking in advance. The last thing you want to find out is that they have a dairy allergy as you pull the baked camembert out of the oven or are whipping up the cream for dessert. The chances are that if a guest has an allergy or can’t eat something for religious reasons, they’ll let you know about it, but it’s always good to ask.
2. Go with what you know.
Don’t risk trying a completely new to you dish for the first time on the night. Opt for meals that you have cooked at least once or twice before. It is also important to remember that increasing a recipe for a larger number of guests can affect cooking time, so make sure you have practiced that as well.
3. Do the hard work first.
Try to get as much prep work as possible out of the way ahead of time. Look for recipes that include instructions on how to “plan ahead” and mention what can be prepared (up to a day or two) early. You can usually chop and prepare vegetables the day before. Also, when you are shopping for your ingredients, make sure you decide on the wine you will be pairing with each course. If you are in a wine club, such as NakedWinery.com, you’ll probably already have a good understanding of what wine you like, but don’t be afraid to ask a sommelier if you need some more advice.
4. Clean as you go
One of the worst parts of hosting a dinner party is the big clean-up operation afterward. No one wants to walk into the kitchen when the guests have gone home, and everyone is tired to be faced with a towering pile of dirty pots, pans, and plates, or worse still, the next morning. While you can’t avoid some washing up after, try to wash pots and pans, and clean down the surfaces as you use them. A good trick is to start with an empty dishwasher, so you can pop it all straight is as they’re used.
5. Have fun
Last but not least, don’t take it too seriously. Nobody will care if the casserole is ever-so-slightly uneven or the drinks are not in elegant crystal glasses – they’re getting a meal cooked for them and great company.