How to host a dinner party
In my opinion, dinner parties are awesome and we would all be better off if we had a few more of them.
My husband and I, after 4 years of marriage, have concluded that having people over for a whole evening in our home is one of the best ways to hang out with and get to know others. The pace is slow and relaxed and there's little pressure to get anything done or talk about anything in particular - just good old fashioned life chats.
I think some feel intimated by the thought of hosting others in their space, though, so I wanted to break down how simple it can be! Here are all the basic steps to hosting a dinner party:
1-2 weeks before - Invite your guests. Be sure to ask about allergies or any strong food preferences.
1 day before - Decide on your menu and buy groceries.
I am a big fan of simplicity here. Most people aren't going to care how fancy or expensive the meal you provide is, instead they will likely be excited about homemade food, made with care, shared with friends.
Here are some of my favorite versatile, simple, one-dish meals:
30-Minute Beef Teriyaki - https://meaningfuleats.com/30-minute-beef-teriyaki-gluten-free/
Creamy Pumpkin Chicken Chili (especially perfect for fall) - http://www.wholesomelicious.com/creamy-pumpkin-chicken-chili/
Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken - https://dinnerthendessert.com/slow-cooker-thai-peanut-chicken/
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas - https://www.recipetineats.com/pork-carnitas-mexican-slow-cooker-pulled-pork/
Chicken Alfredo Pizza (or really any homemade pizza! Or Alfredo!) - https://reciperunner.com/chicken-alfredo-pizza/
Also, I recommend also having some sort of snack before the meal like a cheese platter, chips and guac, or veggies and dip.
This is when you want to also think about what drinks or dessert you want to serve. Oftentimes, guests will ask if they can bring something, and I usually suggest dessert so that they can put as much or little effort into it as they'd like. Plus, it doesn't have to relate to the meal.
Morning of - Prep as much as you can. Chop all veggies, cheeses, etc.
1 hour before - Set the table. Start cooking dinner (this could vary based on how long it will take to cook, but always give yourself more time than you think you'll need).
20 min before - Set the mood and think about all the senses: lighting, seating, music, smells, tastes. Set out any appetizers or snacks you've prepared.
When guests arrive - Welcome them, take their coats, and offer them a drink. It's no problem at all if you're still cooking, as long as there are snacks out.
After dinner - Feel free to move away from the table after dinner, especially if your dining chairs are uncomfortable. If you're feeling uncomfortable in that wooden chair, chances are your guests also are.
From here, enjoy the rest of your evening! Don't feel pressure to do any dishes or clean up (this could easily put your guests into an awkward scenario where they either feel obligated to help or they don't know what to do). Instead, just relax, poor another drink and enjoy your cozy home with your friends.