You know, I’ve been throwing dinner parties for a while now and I’ve got it down to a science. Rather, I’ve been quite observant of my mother in law when she has people over and I watch a lot of Barefoot Contessa. While all my dinner parties are successful, many of the early ones are due to the quality of the company. In the past few years, I’ve been much better about throwing dinner parties where the food is good, my friends are happy, I am not a crazy mess, and the house is not a crazy mess.
Here are a few tips:
Stews and braises are your friend. They taste better when made ahead of time and reheat beautifully.
Set the table ahead of time. Unless you are setting the table a month ahead, you can do it three or four days ahead of time and save yourself a lot of craziness the day of.
Have a drinks and snacks out from the get go. There’s always an anxious buzz that happens when people arrive and there’s not anything to eat or drink. It’s that “when’s dinner” vibe.
If you are doing multiple courses, start with a soup or salad that is made ahead of time. In fact, make as much as possible ahead of time so you just have to reheat.
Always make sure there’s a task to do for early arrivers. You will be most likely be in the kitchen doing prep and you need to make sure they can hang out with you. One example of a good early arriver task is to put ice in the water glasses and fill the water pitcher. Another is arranging flowers to put on the table.
Finally, when you invite people, let them know when them can come over and when dinner will be served. These are two distinct times and not articulating them will cause you to wait for the latecomers.