You might be a student hosting your first dinner for the family, or a seasoned dinner party host anticipating your annual spring soiree! Regardless, you can impress your friends and family at your event. You bring the food and friends, and here we offer you help with the flair. Here's our recipe for a successful dinner party!
Decide on the Type of Party
You'll need to decide on the type of party you'd like to host, which is likely to influence the type of food you'll serve, and how you serve it. Consider the space you have available, and the number of people you'd like to have. It's possible, for example, if you'd like to have 35 people, that you'll need to have a cocktail party, or buffet, rather than a formal seated dinner party. Factor in what you're comfortable with, what you can afford, and what is logistically possible at your house. Consider options like a BBQ, a buffet, a seated dinner, a cocktail party and an open afternoon invitation. Don't forget to consider weather and your heating (and occasionally cooling) capabilities!
Set Your Budget
Set your budget, ensuring it is realistic, and stick to it! Your budget will affect a lot of your decisions, such as the type of food and drink you serve, the decorations your purchase, and the number of people you invite. A key tip is to use food that is in season – it is much cheaper to buy fresh produce during its peak periods than during the off-season. Take a look at food magazines for suggestions. They'll usually have "in season" sections and accompanying recipes. Use these as inspiration.
Set the Theme…and Live It!
Your theme might be a colour, a cuisine, a season or a special occasion. Once you've picked your theme, try and incorporate it in as many ways as possible: the invitations, the table decorations, the place cards, name tags and menu. If you're throwing a pink-themed party, incorporate pink in your drinks, and your appetisers and desserts. It's the little touches that add the true flair, so don't be afraid to fully embrace your theme. It's your party!
Guest Lists & Invitations
Make your guest list (bearing in mind your budget) and ensure you issue invitations at least three weeks prior to the party. Why not introduce the party theme to your guests with an invitation you've designed and printed on Avery® Correspondence Cards? You can design and print them using our free application, Design & Print Online. Consider making your party a mix of friends. Bringing friends from different circles, mixing singles and couples or introducing different personalities can liven things up! And at the event, try our Self Adhesive Name Badges – terrific for getting people to know each other's names (and gentle on their party clothes)!
Preparing the Menu
Lots of factors will influence your menu – likes, dislikes, number of guests, weather, budget and food seasonality. Above all, consider the actual number of hours you have to prepare in the days leading up to your party. If you're looking in cook books for ideas, they'll often recommend parts of recipes that can be prepared prior to the day. Take note of these, and use them to remove as much burden from yourself on the day. A great way to identify your favourite recipes is to use Avery® NoteTabs™, these great products identify the page for you and allow you to add comments on the page without marking the book. Continue to promote the party theme with a matching menu on the table (try using Avery Compliment Slips), or descriptive cards for each dish on the buffet (use our Quick & Clean™ Business Cards).
The Week Before
It's the perfect time to get things ready – clean the house, empty the fridge, tidy up the garden, set up tables and get all your utensils ready. Make lists of everything you can think of and tick things off as you go. Follow your cook books if they suggest tips for early food preparation. Above all, don't forget that this is supposed to be fun! Tip: don't forget about food that needs to set or marinate overnight. Your triple layer mousse will be less tempting if it hasn't set!
On The Day
You're probably going to need to rise early…but promise yourself a sleep in tomorrow! Your focus should be on the priority items. Make lists of all the things you need to do, and use them! Try and arrange some helpers if necessary, to assist with food preparation and organising drinks. Don't be afraid to drop or simplify a dish, if things get too much to handle.
Last step: enjoy a relaxing glass of bubbly and greet your guests with a smile!