Dinner Party. Do the words bring up warm fuzzy feelings of the last time you got together with friends, or does it bring up memories of a frustrated frenzy as you were trying to get a meal out with everything hot that was supposed to be hot, and cold things cold? We have put together some tips to the planning and execution from frenzied to fabulous.
Determine how many people can comfortably fit into your space when it comes to seating. If you have enough room, 8 - 10 people make a nice mix for a party.
Create a pleasant mix of people at your party. Be certain that everyone there knows at least one other person who will be there. (And this makes it easier on the host, too.)
Find out in advance about food allergies or other dietary restrictions so you can take them into consideration as you plan your menu.
Let your guests know where to park, and any other idiosyncrasies about visiting your apartment.
Keep it simple (keeping in mind dietary restrictions and preferences).
Serve a starter food; breads and cheese, fruit and dip, olives, crackers, cold meats. (This staves off hunger while you take care of the finishing touches of your meal, or while waiting for everyone to arrive.)
Serve foods that can be prepared ahead of time (so you have more time to mingle with your guests instead of cooking). Crock pot recipes are great for this purpose.
Foods that can be eaten standing up give guests a chance to mingle while eating. Think finger foods here.
Instead of expensive adult beverages, consider serving a signature punch (and provide a non-alcoholic alternative for your guests who do not drink).
Never serve anything you havent made before. (If you want to try a new recipe, try it out BEFORE you serve it for a party.)
A white linen tablecloth and fabric-made napkins along with fresh cut flowers can be a simple but elegant way to decorate, or use a checked gingham cloth to create more of a picnic feel for your table. For flowers or other centerpieces, choose an arrangement that is low enough so your guests can see each other over the top of it. (Or if you have a lovely arrangement that is taller, put it on a buffet or another shelf or table to enjoy.)
Add some music; create a playlist of light jazz, easy-listening music to use as background, and in this case, louder is not better. Your guests need to be able to easily hear each other without raising their voices to converse.
Lighting can make a huge difference. Use the dimmer switch if you have one, if not, consider using white Christmas lights, candles, or lanterns to create a softer, intimate glow.
Encourage conversation by sharing something fun (not embarrassing) about your guests as you introduce them to each other so they have a launchpad available to begin a conversation.
Have an activity planned in case conversation lags. Card games, trivia games, or getting to know you games can move things along.
Using these tips will help you create an amazing dinner party. Dont forget the dessert! Please feel free to share a favorite dinner party recipe in the comments.