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dinner is served
tips for fab dinner party hosting

by Yee-Fan Sun |
1 2

More so than any other kind of fete, there’s something about a dinner party that just feels properly grown-up. Maybe it’s because these are the sorts of gatherings we remember our parents hosting when we were kids. Or maybe it’s just that the first time you throw a dinner party of your own, it’s an indication that you’ve finally passed one of the first steps on your way to being a responsible adult: being able to put that kitchen to use, and cook up a well-balanced and tasty meal.

Still, feeding yourself is one thing; suddenly finding yourself in charge of sating the appetites of a small crew can leave even a good newbie cook in a bit of a panic. Heck, even those with great culinary skills can sometimes find themselves hosting the dinner party from hell. Fortunately, by keeping a few things in mind, dinner parties don’t have to be hopelessly stressful. Here are a few tips to ensure your dinner parties are a smashing success…

1 Know limits. Limit your list. Barring holidays like Thanksgiving at which a teeming table full of guests is part and parcel of the whole tradition, dinner parties are almost always more enjoyable when the guest list is pared down. For those first starting off in the grown up world of dinner parties, a table of 6 is a good number to aim for, as it provides enough diversity of interests and opinions to make for good conversation, but doesn’t require you, the slightly nervous host, to feed too many bellies. However, you’ll want to consider not only how many chairs you can scrounge up, but how many people can sit at your table without knocking elbows. If all you’re working with is an itty-bitty square table that seats four, so be it – with fun company and a steady flow of good wine and eats, small and cozy can still make for a rollicking good time, as long as everyone’s comfortable.

2 Easy now. Keep the meal simple. Or at least simple-looking. Trust me, as someone who’s attempted overly elaborate meals in the past and has spent the earlier part of too many dinner parties in a panic that my schmancy spread wouldn’t turn out, I have learned this the hard way: dinner parties are most enjoyable for all parties involved when the host/ess isn’t a total stresspot. Yes, we all want to make a memorable meal for our guests. But a big part of what distinguishes a meh dinner party from a genuinely lovely one isn’t the food at all. Remember, as the host/ess, you set the tone for the evening, and if the vibe you’re giving off is tense and harried, your guests are not going to feel at ease, no matter how delectable and exquisite the main course. Choose a menu of good eats that you know you can pull off comfortably. Whether that means sticking with more casual foods and quick-and-easy dishes or just doing a bang-up job with the prepping ahead of more involved menus, the key is to make it all look and feel as effortless as possible.

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