Going to a great dinner party is a wonderful way to spend an evening. With proper planning, hosting one can be even more enjoyable because you will be the one to choose the guests, pick the menu, and set the atmosphere. Here are 5 tips on how to make sure that not only do your guests have a great time, but you do too!


1) Choose a Theme

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a few friends over for dinner and drinks, but you can make the occasion so much more special if you add a theme. It doesn't need to anything complex. It can be celebrating a birthday, a game night, or even dinner and a movie.

Because we enjoy traveling, we have often hosted dinners with a menu featuring the food and drink of where we last visited. We would also be sure to have pictures from our trip out. Because we would invite friends who also enjoyed traveling, one of the joys of these dinners would be listening to our guests' travel stories and learning about other interesting places to visit.


2) Plan Your Menu

When we would have our “travel” dinner parties, the menu would suggest itself. But we would also need to follow certain rules so that we could enjoy the evening as much as our guests. Choose a main course that can be prepped in advance, so that your actual time in the kitchen can be kept to a minimum. Don't make a menu that is so complicated that your evening hectic. Have simple appetizers so that you can be doing the necessary things in the kitchen while they are being eaten.

While it is nice to surprise your guests with what you are serving, it can save headaches for all if you ask your guests if they have any strong food dislikes or dietary restrictions when you extend your invitations.


3) Prep in Advance

While this obviously includes prepping the food, setting the table, and cleaning the house, there are other small things you can do in advance to ensure a smooth evening. For example, empty the dishwasher and the trash can before the evening starts. That way the dishes can quickly be cleared up as the evening progresses. Wash and put away any pots of pans that used in the prep. Make sure the table is completely set with some designer flatware sets and the water glasses are full before the guests arrive. It is surprising how cluttered a the counters can become as you get everybody's dinner ready to be served, so starting with empty counters can make the evening that much easier


4) Don’t Overdo the Appetizers

Appetizers and a glass of wine are a great way to welcome guests to the dinner party. Interesting tasty treats let the guests know they are in for a special evening. But I have 2 rules for my appetizers. First, they should be able to be eaten with one hand, nothing that requires 2 hands, or even worse, a plate and a fork. My second rule is don't put out so many appetizers that the guests ruin their appetites. Often the guests are too busy talking and drinking to really pay attention to how much they are eating, and by the time dinner is served, they are well on their way to being full.


5) Don’t Skimp on Dessert

End the dinner with a bang. We would often have our guests retire to the living room with their wine while we did a quick clean up. After we were finished, we would then bring in dessert. Whether it was a homemade pie or cake, or goodies from a local bakery, we tried to make our dessert special. We wanted our guests to feel like this was a night to indulge, and we could all go back to our “healthy” diets tomorrow