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  • Writer's pictureJames Howe

Top tips for a successful dinner party!

From the luxury Private Chef of the Year.

Top tips for a successful dinner party
Top tips for a successful dinner party

Dinner parties can be intimidating. They’re one of the few social gatherings where your reputation plays such a large role. You don’t just want your guests to have a great time, you want them to feel comfortable, relaxed, and maybe even remember it for a while afterward. To ensure this happens and to help you prepare, here are some tips on how to throw the best dinner party possible!


Our top tips for a successful dinner party

Tip 1 - Host a cocktail hour

Top tips for a successful dinner party
Cocktail hour

One of the best ways to ease guests into a new social setting is by starting it with a cocktail hour. This way, the hosts can make sure the drinks are flowing and their guests have the opportunity to make their first impression. It also gives people time to get to know each other a little better and relax before dinner. Obviously, this is something you’ll want to keep simple. No fancy bartending or catering required! If you have a large enough space, you can host it in the living room or dining room. If you have a smaller space, you might want to consider hosting it outside on the patio or in the backyard. During the cocktail hour, serve light appetizers such as olives, cheese plates, crackers, and crudités. You can also offer a selection of wine and spirits. Keep the food simple and easy. No matter how well the hosts are doing their job, your guests will definitely be hungover or tired from their long day by the time dinner rolls around. You don’t want to overdo it.


Tip 2 - Ask everyone to bring a drink

Top tips for a successful dinner party

One of the advantages on dining in is massively reducing how much everyone spends on booze. A decent bottle of wine can be found for less than what you may pay for a glass in some places. Secondly, as the host there is a certain expectation to cater to all tastes. So by asking all your guests to bring a bottle, the chances are they will bring something they would like. So you are off the hook! Lastly, this can be a good conversation starter if you are feeling the chatter is dipping or even make a game of it. Trust me, I've seen it done!


Tip 3 - Hire a Private Chef

Top tips for a successful dinner party
Chef at Home by James Howe

I know you want to be the host with the most. You could spend several hours shopping, chopping, stirring and everything else in between. But I'm sure you want to enjoy the evening too! So hire in a chef, like myself, to do all this for you. All the sourcing, preparation, cooking is taken care of. You can even ask your chefs to create the canapés for the cocktail hour and make things even easier on your self. For that extra dash of luxury we serve you and your guests at the table & take care of all the cleaning up at the end. By hiring professional chefs in to do everything for you will be a decision you won't regret.


Tip 4 - Set a strict time limit for dinner

Top tips for a successful dinner party
Dinner time!

While you might want to feed your guests for hours, it’s best to keep dinner time very short. General rule of thumb is plan 2 hours for all courses. That way the courses are not rushed and everyone gets time to enjoy each mouthful. Ideally your guests should feel satisfied but not too full. Especially if you had games or dancing planned for later in the evening, it wouldn't be ideal for everyone to be in that "just eaten, now I'm sleepy" state while you are trying to encourage lively activities. Your guests may also need to plan around your event like baby sitters, taxis, work. So being able to confidently say your timetable you are giving your guests the opportunity to make the arrangements they need to fully relax on the night.


Tip 5 - Decorate the table for your party

Top tips for a successful dinner party
Set the table

This is a must! You’ll want to make sure you have a table set up that looks inviting. You don’t have to make it look like a million dollars; you just have to make sure it looks nice. You can decorate the table with candles, flowers, and place settings and perhaps even a dessert table. You can also add a placard with a list of each guest’s name so they know who they’re sitting next to. This can be a great way to make sure that your guests are comfortable and mingling with each other. This is also a service your chef may be able to take off your hands, as part of our service we dress the table for our clients before dinner.


Final thoughts

Hiring a caterer for your dinner party isn’t for everyone, and there are some who would rather spend the money and do it themselves. If this is the case for you, then you have my top tips for a successful dinner party.

Hosting a dinner party is a challenge. But we have Motto that may help you. "prep hard, serve easy". Get all your preparations done long before guests arrive, to allow the evening to go without a hiccup. Or just make life easier for yourself and bring in the professionals, so all you have to do is enjoy.


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