Effortless Entertaining: Tips for a Stress-Free Dinner Party

It’s Erin from Fig + Cotton with some more Effortless Entertaining tips!  Today, we are tackling the dinner party.  I love a good dinner party, but preparing food and fun for more than my little family can sometimes be daunting.  Over the years, I have come up with some pretty good go-tos on throwing a good gathering.

Here are my tips for a stress-free dinner party.

How To Host a Magazine-Worthy Dinner Party

Make a plan

  1. Be prepared and organized.  I go a bit overboard on this front, but just jotting down your menu, making of list of what needs to be done on what day and time (think “Friday PM: set table, grocery shop”), and making a grocery list well in advance will make your party prep go much smoother.
  2. Don’t try to do everything in one day. Set your table the night before, and make sure your grocery run is done the day before the party.  Nothing is worse than running around to the butcher, Whole Foods, and the flower market hours before your guests arrive.
  3. Plan to have the kids out of the house, if you can.  I know this may sound extreme, but you will thank me once your parents come get the kiddos for a sleep over.  You will be so much more relaxed.
  4. Ask your guests about any allergies or food aversions.  Most hosts forget this step, but it will make things much easier if you know in advance.
  5. Send out an invitation.  I love a good paper invitation, but a digital invitation (Paperless Post and Evite are great resources) can just as good in a pinch!  Sending something a bit more than a regular email makes your guest feel special.
  6. Less is more.  Less food choices, less fuss on the table, less stress for the you.  But, where wine is concerned, more is more.  That is important to remember while shopping.
  7. Hostess closet.  Like I have said before, a well-stocked “hostess closet” can cut down on all of your entertaining planning.  Keep pretty linens and dishware at an arm’s length, so you aren’t stressing about each place setting. See this post here where I outline what I keep in mine!
Plan the menu
  1. Keep it simple.  Simple, beautiful food is always a hit.  You don’t need to create a super fancy, four course meal for people to enjoy themselves.  Keep it classic and simple, and they will be happy and comfortable.
  2. Do what you know.  Don’t use a dinner party as an excuse to try something new.  Cook what you love to cook.  Use that knock out recipe your husband requests every year for his birthday.  If you are at ease cooking it, you will be at ease while people are eating it!
  3. Don’t try to do it all.  Pick up sides from your specialty store, a cheese plate for a quick appetizer, or dessert from your local bakery.  You don’t have to make each and every piece of your dinner party meal.  No one will know…or if you invited the right people, they won’t care.
  4. Pick at least one item that you can throw in the oven.  Whether it be a roasted tenderloin, baked mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables, pick at least one dish where you are hands off.
  5. Make ahead moments.  Run through your recipes a few days ahead and see if you can find any “make ahead moments” where you can cut down your day-of time in the kitchen.  For example, you can chop veggies or brown bacon (just keep the fat!) the day before for easy dish assembly.
  6. Here’s a good idea of a winning dinner party meal:
salad  –  chicken  –  brussels sprouts  –  gratin  –  pie (store-bought!)
Remember that friends are the focus, not the food
  1. A relaxed host is the best host.  Don’t stress over dinner.  Your guests are the stars of your dinner party.
  2. Jump out of the kitchen. Make sure you are pretty much out of the kitchen when they arrive, so you can meet them at the door with a glass of bubbly.
  3. Set the party mood.  Light your favorite candle, turn down the lights, and put on some great music.
The Dos and Don'ts of Hosting a Dinner Party

I hope these tips help you create a lovely stress-free dinner party soon!  For more recipes and entertaining inspiration, visit Fig + Cotton or Fig + Cotton on Pinterest.

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