Checklist for a Stress-Free Dinner Party

Rhoihessewoi

Rhoihessewoi (Photo credit: Jay Vice)

Spring is the perfect time to throw a dinner party. As the weather warms up, it’s such a treat to gather family and friends outside onto your deck, rooftop or terrace for a nice meal. But we all know, party planning requires more than just sending out the invitations. Between the cooking and cleaning, entertaining can be a nightmare.

However planning ahead will change your life.  With a few preparation tricks, you’ll enjoy your time and be the hostess with the mostest.

1.     Check your cupboards first. Make sure that you have the right amount of serving dishes, wine glasses, etc, so that you’re not rushing around the day of the event. Lay everything out ahead of time so you’re certain that you won’t have to scramble to find it last minute. Do the same with your ingredients before you start cooking.  Or if you’re ordering food — price out a few caterers early.  

2.    Start ahead of time. Nothing creates more stress than having a million things to do all at once. Rather than leave things until the last minute, start your cooking, cleaning and planning in advance so you’re not left doing everything just hours before the party starts. Set the table the night before to leave time for any last minute party preparations.  I also like to make a list of all my to-dos for the days leading up to the party.  That way everything is mapped out ahead of time so I can just grab my list and spring into action.

3.     Go with what you know. Cooking under pressure can always be stressful, especially when you’re on a time frame and budget. Stick with the recipes that you know so you can spend the least amount of time in the kitchen to focus on other preparations.

4.     Have everyone bring their own dish. Cooking can be a big ordeal, especially when you’re preparing for a large amount of people. If you ask each guest to bring a little something, it will take the stress off of you and allow guests to feel like part of the party planning.

5.     Choose a signature drink. Buying large amounts of alcohol isn’t always the cost effective. Plus, who wants to play bartender, mixing all different drinks, all night long?  I like to prepare a pitcher of sangria (or your drink of choice) in order to save time and money. This way, you only have to prepare it once and can enjoy the party (and the drinks) yourself.

6.     Clean as you go. It might seem like a pain in the moment, but it’s a relief when you don’t have a scary pile of dishes at the end of the night! After each course, move the plates inside the dishwasher, rather than just piling them up outside of the sink. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

What are your tips for an efficient dinner party?

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