How to host the perfect dinner party

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Hoping to reunite with your nearest and dearest sometime soon? There’s nothing better than sharing incredible food, with even better company. But if you’re considering hosting a dinner party, you may initially feel at a loose end, wondering “what should I buy?”, “what decorations should I get?”, and “what food shall I cook?”. Not to worry; we’re here to help and guide you, to ensure you’re prepared for this exciting event.

We’ve helpfully listed a whole host of wonderful dinner party ideas for you to take inspiration from. So, discover everything you need to know to throw the dinner party of all dinner parties!

Send your invites early

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Whether you usually make casual plans or plan months in advance anyway, you’ll need to decide on who you’re inviting to your dinner party around three weeks beforehand. And remember to arrange it over a weekend – Friday or Saturday is preferable – because you can all totally relax while tucking into some scrumptious food.

You’ll need to check when each of your guests is free before finalising the date, and you could even ask them if they have any dinner party ideas, they’d like you to incorporate into your event.

Then, buy (or make) some invites, list the date, your address and what time your guests should show up and post them through their letterboxes. You could quickly ping them a message on WhatsApp inviting them to your dreamy dinner party, but a plan can easily get lost on there – and you’ll want it set in stone. So, ensure you provide your guests with a paper invite. Remember, dinner party ideas for adults start with invites, too – it’s not just children’s parties that require these organised documents!

Plan your menu meticulously

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When you initially thought of hosting a dinner party, you had probably cooked a delicious meal that you wanted to share with your closest companions. With that being said, the guests you invite could heavily impact your initial menu ideas.

For instance, if you’ve thought of cooking a scrumptious and flaky meat pie with a prawn cocktail to start, but the friends you’re inviting are vegetarian, you’ll need to re-think your plans.

So, when it comes to planning your dinner party menu, ensure you:

  • Decide whether you’re going for a casual dinner party with nibbly items like luxury nuts and more, or providing a fine-dining experience. This will impact your menu as to whether a starter, main, dessert, snacks and hors d'oeuvres need to be listed
  • Ask about dietary requirements before you confirm your menu
  • Decide on a theme, as this will influence the food you cook. For instance, will tapas be your central food focus, or will Italian take centre stage at your dinner soiree?
  • Plan to cook meals you’ve made and served before to guarantee consistency and to avoid potential meal mishaps
  • Prepare your desserts days in advance to avoid juggling too much on the day
  • Decide whether you want to provide a drinks menu with spirits and beers, or just surprise your guests with a bottle of fine wine on the day.

Choose simple yet tasty dinner party recipes

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When hosting a dinner party, the focus is (of course) on the dishes you’ll be serving to your guests. But don’t overexert yourself just to impress, as this could negatively impact the atmosphere of your evening.

Our best dinner party ideas? Plan the goodies you’ll serve around cooking times and how much time you’d be spending in the kitchen. After all, you don’t want to spend your whole night cooking dinner party recipes in the kitchen while your guests are mingling, drinking and having fun without you.

Pay special attention to your décor

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The décor at your dinner party is integral to your evening. As soon as your guests arrive, you want them to feel comfortable (and compliment the perfect ambience)! So, plan the theme you’re opting for beforehand to ensure you have the right decorations in place on the day. Because if you’re hoping to go all out with a balloon arch and wild dried flowers, you’ll need to order these online in advance to ensure they arrive on time.

Your dinner décor can be anything from laying fresh flowers on the table and sprinkling petals onto your special-occasion tablecloth, or dotting candles around the table with a vase of flowers being your centrepiece. It’s entirely up to you, and will depend on the theme of your dinner party. Just remember the basics like napkins and candles!

Make specialised seating arrangements

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If you’re hosting a dinner party for the first time, you’ve probably not even thought about seating arrangements. But they are so important – especially if you are inviting guests who don’t know each other too well, or a very different mix of people.

Here are our top five tips for seating arrangements:

  1. Sit yourself closest to the exit, to ensure you have easy access to the kitchen at all times
  2. If you’ve invited a couple, sit them opposite one another, not next to, so they have the chance to converse with others
  3. If some of your guest’s smoke, make sure they are sat next to other smokers
  4. Seat your closest and most willing friend nearest to you on the dinner table, in case you need their help at any point in the night
  5. If there’s an extrovert, and one who knows the most people at the dinner party, sit them centrally to ensure they mingle with everyone and get the party going.

Organise fun dinner party games for adults

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Our dinner party ideas aren’t just restricted to food. Obviously, a dinner party is primarily about the food itself, but it’s also about entertaining your guests. Organising a selection (or even just one) game for those seated at your table is an excellent way to round off the evening, or even in between courses. And one thing Come Dine with Me taught us is that the perfect dinner party cannot be complete without an entertainment section squeezed in between.

But which dinner party games are the best?

Make a rule

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Make a rule is a fantastic game to play with your dinner guests for many reasons, but one being that you don’t need to buy any special equipment to execute the game. Instead, when your guests arrive and sit down, you’ll be asking each one to make a rule. And there are no set guidelines about what the rules can and can’t be.

Examples for rules include not drinking during the first course, only addressing each other by surnames, not saying the word “food” while eating it, as well as any other inventive ideas you can come up with. Then, every time someone breaks the rule, they have to do a forfeit of your choice!

Two truths and a lie

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Two truths and a lie is a great game to share between friends while you serve up an assortment of delicious delights. Fun yet easy games are what you should be opting for. Otherwise, you’ll spend half your night in the kitchen cooking or in the living room setting up games.

Your guests could incorporate the dining experience into this game. For example:

  • Truth: This food is amazing
  • Truth: I skipped lunch today to enjoy all of this incredible food
  • Lie: I popped some of the starter in a doggy bag for later.

The aim is to tease and trick others into thinking the lie is actually a truth, so you need to make it believable!

Now you’ve got some brilliant dinner party ideas, it’s time to put these helpful tricks and tips into practice by planning your own! For more food and drink inspiration, as well as interesting recipe ideas, visit our blog. And if you’re hoping to find some premium snacks to serve in between meals, or to accompany your meals, check out our luxury food hampers.