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Dinner parties can be a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity to get together with friends, catch up, and just spend some time having fun. Hosting one can be a bit stressful though. There’s a lot more work that goes into it than just showing up and enjoying yourself. If you’re planning to host a dinner party at your home, there are some things you definitely need to consider well in advance.

Plan Your Menu

This is arguably the trickiest part of putting together a dinner party. You want everyone to enjoy the meal you put together, and that can feel like a lot of pressure. This is where knowing who you’re going to invite can come in handy. If one of your guests is vegan, take that into account when planning your menu. The same goes for any other dietary restrictions your guests might have. The easiest approach may be to pick your protein and then plan your side dishes around it, keeping any restrictions in mind so everyone has something they can make a meal of.

How to Get Deals

This is where planning in advance can really pay off. Throwing a dinner party can get pretty pricey pretty quickly. Scoring deals on various items can really help cut down on some of the costs. Once you have an idea of what your menu is going to look like, take some time to shop the sales at the grocery stores in your area. You may be able to find different ingredients at reduced prices. Clip coupons and take advantage of deals. Identify the ingredients on your menu that have a longer shelf life and those that need to be gotten fresh. That way you can reduce costs further by making sure you don’t have to buy something more than once because it went bad before you got to use it.

Sending Out Invitations

No one’s going to come if they don’t know there’s something to come to. That’s where sending out invitations comes in. The formality of the event will dictate what sort of timeline you should use when sending out your invitations, but about three weeks in advance should be good. It will also have some sway over what sort of invitation you should send out. If it’s a casual get together, a phone call, electronic invitation, or a pre-printed invitation work just fine. More formal events warrant a more formal invitation.

It’s the Details That Matter

The details can make a huge difference in the experience your guests have. Remember, humans tend to be very visual creatures, and we tend to eat with our eyes rather than our mouths or stomachs. That means that the way you present your food matters. Toothpicks add detail to your food presentation that will impress people. They can be great for appetizers and larger dishes that you want to keep intact, like a kabob or a large burger.

Remember to think about the other senses as well. The lighting can have a huge impact on the atmosphere, as can any background noise. Adjust your lighting accordingly, and carefully consider your choice of music if you choose to have any playing in the background. Think carefully about any non-food scents you might introduce as well. You don’t want them clashing with the delicious aroma of the meal you’re about to serve.

Timing the Dinner

The timing of your dinner matters in more ways than one. First, be careful about selecting the time you intend to serve dinner. It should make sense for the meal you’re serving and the date you’ve chosen (so probably don’t go for 4pm in the middle of the work week). From there, think about what sort of experience you want your guests to have in the time leading up to the dinner. Do you want to involve them with preparing the food? Do you want them to mingle while you put the finishing touches on the table? All of that will depend on the timing you choose for your dinner. Just make sure you don’t leave them without something to do before dinner gets underway.

Creating a Comfortable Space

Dinner parties should be comfortable for your guests, which means one of your jobs is to make sure that your home is a comfortable place for them to be. Carefully consider how much space you have in relation to how many people you want to invite. Too many guests will be cramped and crowded. Too few and things may get awkward and uncomfortable unless everyone is already very good friends. Speaking of which, have a plan for guiding the conversation. Preventing awkward silences from developing is one of your responsibilities as the host.

Giving yourself plenty of time to plan and prepare is the key to throwing a successful, fun dinner party at your home. If you’ve never hosted before, feel free to reach out to a friend or two and ask them for some help. That can go a long way towards relieving the stress you might feel by trying to handle all of it by yourself. Just make sure you can count on the people you ask for help. You don’t want to find yourself left hanging because someone fell through on what they were supposed to do at the last minute.

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