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, use these stress-free hosting tips to plan a dinner you and your guests will revel in.
The 5 C’s
1. Keep it Casual
A simple stress-free hosting tip is to keep things 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
Creating a relaxed and inviting environment for your guests will make stress-free hosting a breeze.
Clean your place in advance (not the day of), play light and feel-good music, and be don’t be running around last-minute dealing with tiny details nobody but you will notice. If you’re calm, your guests will feel the same.
For playlist recommendations, check out this post with my favorite tried and tested playlists on Spotify.
Harsh light is also a mood killer. Instead, dim your lights when it gets dark, light some long-lasting candles, 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. Or, read this post on how to get your guests to leave.
Another stress-free hosting tip is to ask your friends and guests to contribute in some way.
If you ask your guests to contribute a drink, a dish, or even pick-up something for you, it will take the load off and help you feel more relaxed.
Here are some ideas to make your dinner 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. (This is 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 up in advance will save you a lot of anxiety.
Do a deep clean of the major areas of your house or apartment a few days before your party. And, before your guests arrive, remove clutter (kids’ toys, coats, shoes, miscellaneous things on tables or counters.
But also, don’t feel the need to clean like crazy. Focus on the areas that will be most used – bathrooms, living or dining room, and the kitchen. Close your bedroom doors if you don’t feel like cleaning them, and don’t sweat it if you don’t have time to wash the floors and dust.