Whether you are hosting a casual dinner party or one that calls for black tie, coat and tails, there are some rules that are non-negotiable if you want to host a successful party. There are plenty of details to be taken care of; there are seating arrangements and dietary preferences to be catered to, choice of wines and desserts, the table décor as well as the décor of the whole room. A perfect host plans everything down to detail, whether guests are expected to come in jeans or gowns.
Follow these top five rules and throw a party your guests are not likely to forget in a long, long while.
This goes without saying, planning ahead is the key to a successful party. Send out invitations in advance, requesting an RSVP by a specific date. If your guest list includes acquaintances, you should inquire about food preferences as well food allergies. If you are planning a dinner-n-dance, book the band in advance; if it's a karaoke night, hire a professional to set up the necessary equipment for you on the day of the party.
I have the most trouble with dinner parties. I don't like to be stuck in the kitchen instead of partying with my guests.I have found the tips in Dinner Parties Made Simple to be incredibly useful.
If there is a dress code, specify it in your invitation. Guests who show up in jeans are likely to be very uncomfortable if everybody else is dressed to the nines. On the other hand a guest who has taken the trouble to dress in a cocktail gown would feel very uncomfortable at a decidedly casual party. Specifying the dress code will save you and your guests from an embarrassing situation.
Plan your menu well in advance, making sure you've got a varied menu that includes all taste buds and culinary preferences. Choose tried and tested recipes; this is definitely not the time to be adventurous. Unless you have loads of help in the kitchen, keep the menu simple; you do want to spend some time with your guests don't you?
Choosing complicated dishes that require a lot of last-minute preparation means you'll end up spending the party in the kitchen just putting things together. Have the majority of your meals prepared ahead of schedule, so when your guests arrive the food is ready to be served while you are ready to party.
And make sure you have enough crockery and cutlery to go with each course!
While you certainly do not need to go all out and hire professional decorators, a few special touches are sure to set the mood and get the party going. A few bouquets of fresh flowers placed strategically can give a formal evening an air of sophisticated elegance. Switch off all your overhead lights and use a clever combination of table lamps, floor lamps and plenty of candles to infuse your party with an atmosphere filled with mystery and romance.
This rule is written in stone - Your Guests Come First. Whether it is the choice of food and beverage, the choice of music or the setting of the party; your guests' preferences take precedence over yours. Mix and mingle with your guests right through; introducing them to each other and making sure glasses and plates are refilled. And when dinner is served, always make sure your guests are served before you serve yourself.