Who says a double date at home isn’t a dinner party? A dinner party for four is an intimate gathering that allows you to cook to your heart’s content without breaking your budget.
Plus, you can easily incorporate a fun activity or game that you otherwise might be able to do with a larger group.
In this post, you’ll discover the benefits of a smaller dinner party, why you should plan one if you’re on the fence, and how to plan your dinner party for four, so it’s memorable and stress-free.
Benefits of a Dinner Party for 4
Even though I love hosting dinner parties for around six or eight people, a dinner party for four makes hosting less stressful, more affordable, and just as fun. Here are some of my favorite reasons why hosting a dinner party for four trumps a larger one.
1. Follow recipes, easily.
If the idea of cooking for a lot of people intimidates you, you’re in luck. One of the benefits of having a dinner party for four is that you won’t need to do any math to scale a recipe up or down because most recipes default to a serving size of four.
That being said, if you have friends who are big eaters (like my husband), be wary of not cooking enough food. If you think your guests will be extra ravenous, make an extra serving or two just in case.
Or, cook an extra side dish to make sure nobody goes hungry. Leftovers are never a bad thing.
2. Have better conversations.
Small groups provide more comfortable environments for people to open up, share, and engage in deeper conversations. In university, I remember having lectures with 400+ people in one room. I would never dare raise my hand to ask a question, let alone engage in discussion with the professor or another student.
Luckily, a dinner party for four means everybody at the table will engage in the same conversation. This will allow you to dive deeper into topics and get honest opinions and views from the other guests. Sometimes, I’ll ask the guests at my dinner party for four for honest feedback about a particular business or marketing idea I have.
Related post: Fun Conversation Starters.
3. Splurge a little.
Sometimes when I have a small dinner party, I let myself splurge on some more expensive ingredients that I otherwise wouldn’t buy for a larger eight or ten-person dinner party.
Some special ingredients that I might splurge on for a dinner party for four include:
- burrata cheese (that creamy, gooey cheese served at fine Italian restaurants)
- a store-bought dessert from a favorite bakery
- dips and spreads from a local deli
- locally foraged mushrooms (to put into a pasta dish)
- high-quality olive oil to serve with fresh bread
Tip: If you’re splurging on something such as steak or cheese, it would be fun to compare it with a more affordable option to see if anybody notices the difference. (I.e., Wagyu vs. regular steak. Or, supermarket ice cream vs. the new boutique ice cream shop that opened up in your neighborhood).
4. Open up something special.
My husband Chris and I spend the winters in Cape Town, where wine is delicious and affordable. We bring back as many bottles as we can. But, we don’t always have an excuse to open up these nicer bottles of wine on a normal weeknight.
Luckily, a dinner party for four is the perfect occasion. It’s fun to share something special with others (as long as they appreciate it) and have something to talk about. You can always bring it out at a larger dinner party but with a smaller group, you’ll at least get a fair share of your special wine.
If you’re not into wine, you could open up a box of chocolates or caramels you’ve been saving (hopefully, not for too long). Or, a bottle of other liquor such as whiskey or mezcal.
How to Throw a Dinner Party for Four
1. Pick a Date and Invite People
If you’re single, don’t be afraid to invite another couple and a single friend. Pick three (or two if you have a partner) guests you think will get along. Be wary of inviting people you don’t know too well, as this will add unnecessary stress. And, it could turn out that they don’t get along with the others in the group.
Send out an invite either by email or text message. No formal invitation is necessary.
Tip: Don’t forget to ask about dietary restrictions and allergies when you invite your guests.
2. Menu Plan
Once you’ve secured who’s coming to your dinner party for four, you can start planning your menu. If you are trying to stick to a budget, try one of our menus which are both affordable and make-ahead friendly.
If you want to go a little more extravagant, I highly recommend any of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes. You’ll need a decent amount of middle eastern spices (think dukkah, za’atar, pomegranate molasses, etc.), so keep this in mind if you decide to make some of his dishes.
Like any dinner party, I recommend opting for recipes you can make in advance. Not only does this allow you to be less stressed the day of, but you can also double your recipe and freeze some to use another time. Since it’ll only be you and three other guests, you don’t want to be cooking and finishing things n the kitchen when your guests arrive.
Once you’ve decided what to make, you can prepare for your party by buying your ingredients, thinking about what drinks to serve, what your guests can bring if they want to contribute something, and what activities you might want to play.
A dinner party for four is a perfect number for a blind taste test or a card game like Cards Against Humanity. Or, a recent favorite Monopoly Deal.
You can also use conversation starters if you need to steer the conversation away from small talk and need an excuse to talk about something fun and unique.
In addition to preparing an activity, food, and drinks, don’t forget to prepare your home. Clean the rooms your guests will use (kitchen, living room, bathroom), and put away unnecessary things such as shoes or kids’ toys and anything personal you don’t want your guests to see.
Tip: To avoid last-minute cancellations, I like to send out a reminder text a day or two in advance. Your guests will appreciate the reminder and will likely ask if they can bring something. Use this as an opportunity to ask them to contribute something (a drink or a dessert) if you wish.
4. A Couple Hours Before Your Party
An hour or two before your dinner party, ensure your home is clean, your dishwasher is empty, and your food is ready to go. Charge your speakers if they’re not already charged, and play some music.
Tip: Check out this post for a list of Spotify playlists for your next dinner party.
When your guests arrive, pour yourself a drink with them (or before), so they’re not drinking alone. Ensure your appetizers or snacks are out; don’t be afraid to dig in first. Sometimes guests get a bit weird about being the first to bite in, so help break the ice. You know you’re hungry after all your prep, anyway.
Enjoy the rest of your dinner party for four, or six, or however many it ends up being, and let me know in the comments how it went!