If you let them, dinner parties can make you feel anxious, stressed out, and deflated. But if you play your cards right, they can be anything but.
Your guests don’t expect perfection, an elaborate meal, and are just excited to have been invited to your event. So, relax, keep it casual, ask for help, and you’ll host a stress-free dinner you and your guests will revel in.
The 5 Cs to Hosting a Stress-Free Dinner Party Outline
1. Keep it Casual
One of the easiest ways to host a stress-free dinner is by keeping it casual and low-maintenance. Nobody cares if the dessert you serve isn’t homemade, or if your plates and cutlery don’t match. Imperfection is endearing.
Other ways to keep your guests feeling casual:
- Take off your shoes while inside (and wear slippers) and invite your friends to do the same.
- Ask friends to bring their own drinks, so they feel like they’re contributing something.
- Put a bucket of drinks out so your guests can help themselves.
2. Get Comfortable
One way to ensure you’re hosting a stress-free dinner party is by creating a relaxed and inviting environment. Clean your place in advance, play easy-going music, and be don’t be running around last-minute. If you’re calm, your guests will feel the same.
For playlist recommendations, check out these on Spotify:
- Bossa Nova Dinner – a collection of easy-listening Brazilian Jazz
- Sunshowers – indie-electro relaxed and upbeat vibes
- Dinner with Friends – an eclectic mix of uppity funk and mainstream remixes
- Old School Hip-Hop – not for the little ones but these nostalgic 90s hip-hop tunes often put people in a good mood (and drink more)
Harsh light is also a mood killer. Instead, dim your lights, light some long-lasting candles just before your guests arrive, and don’t forget to put a few in the bathroom.
Tip: If your guests are getting a little too comfortable and it’s getting late, start washing up, turn down the music, and don’t be afraid to tell them you need to hit the hay.
Asking your friends to contribute a dish for a dinner party is probably the easiest thing to do if you want to host a stress-free dinner party.
Collaborating allows your guests to take the load off you to prepare and do everything. Sure, you’ll still have to plan and delegate, but you’ll have more time and money by not worrying about every single thing.
Here are some ideas to make your dinner party more of a team effort:
- Blind Taste Tests. Get each guest to contribute an item for a blind taste test. It could be a bottle of wine or a type of cheese. Read this post on how to plan one.
- Pizza Night. You prepare the pizza dough and a big salad, and your guests bring the toppings
- Cookbook Party. Ask your guests to prepare a dish from one chef or cookbook so it’s more of a potluck. (only really appropriate for people who like to cook).
4. Keep the Conversation Flowing
A stress-free dinner party is one that flows, which means the conversation is fun and engaging. Your guest list is almost as important as your food, so be careful who you invite and think about how they will get along with the others.
Make sure everybody that you invites knows at least one person there, so they feel comfortable, and so that you don’t have to babysit.
Just in case the conversation gets stale, or people have a hard time warming up, prepare a game in advance. This could be anything from a conversation starter, Table Topics, or other dinner party games for adults.
5. Clean with Care
Cleaning and tidying in advance will save you a lot of anxiety. Give your home a good clean at least a day in advance and remove any unnecessary things lying around.
Clutter is never a good look.
During your food prep, clean as you go so, you don’t have your sink and dishwasher full of dirty dishes and pots and pans. When it comes time to your dinner party, avoid spending the entire night in the kitchen by doing sufficient prep and cleaning up before your guests arrive. Nobody likes a hiding host, and your guests definitely won’t feel at ease if you’re a busy-bee the entire time.
Your guests will likely already have thanked you, but even if they haven’t, don’t forget to send a thank-you for coming message the next day. It’s an easy and thoughtful gesture and shows you enjoyed their company and presence.
What other ideas do you have for hosting a stress-free dinner party? Leave a comment below.