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Five Things to Remember When Hosting a Dinner Party

As entertaining starts to pick up again, I, for one, am making lists to make sure I don’t forget anything! I love to entertain, but I find that having things prepared in advance makes the experience infinitely more enjoyable, and it also increases the enjoyment of the event in advance by allowing myself to prepare slowly and not rush.

One of the longer-term projects I’m working on for Fewer & Better is creating simple dinner party menus for each season–recipes that are easy to master, can be prepared in advance, and that take advantage of what is in season at our local farm. This is part of a personal goal to perfect a simple but elegant repertoire of menus to use on special occasions but also on a regular weekday as well. I’m the farthest thing from a food blogger, but I love to eat and I find that simple food done really well to be the best–especially when you are preparing a meal! But food isn’t the only thing to make a dinner party a success. Here are five things to remember when hosting a dinner party.


Check your linens, cutlery, glasses, and serving items in advance

There is nothing worse than realizing on the day of your dinner party you don’t have enough napkins, or a wineglass is cracked, or some other minor calamity has befallen you. Checking everything you’ll need in advance gives you time to find a replacement or use different items.


Have enough ice!

There’s nothing worse than a warm drink when it’s not meant to be warm. Make sure you have enough ice to fill your ice bucket and for cocktails–and then add extra, just in case!


Plan your menu

Choose recipes you know you can cook well–and ideally those that don’t require your presence in the kitchen as your guests are arriving. And double-check that you have all ingredients in advance!


Set your table

Are you having flowers or a centerpiece? What about candles? Prepare everything the morning of so you’re not rushed when you need to cook.


Arrange your space

You might want more seating during cocktail hour, or a clear path for the flow of movement if the cocktails are served in more than one room. Take into account the number of people, where drinks and hors d’oeuvres are laid out, and make sure there are appropriate places (with coasters!) to set down drinks.


I have a number of favorite places to find things for dinner parties, which I’ve linked below! (As a reminder, all links marked with an asterisk are affiliate links, and I may earn a commission at no cost to you. I only link items I own and love!)

Glassware: Williams-Sonoma

Linens: Julia Amory, The Pink House Design, Birdie Nall, Porthault

Placecards: Crane, Dempsey & Carroll

Silverware: Vintage (my pattern is Heraldic* by Rogers. I love finding missing place settings via Replacements.com*, ebay*, and Etsy.*

Serving dishes: Scully & Scully

China: Scully & Scully

4 thoughts on “Five Things to Remember When Hosting a Dinner Party

  1. Very good advice!

    This is probably the topic of another article, but as a guest I try to tailor my hostess gift to the occasion. A backyard barbecue calls for a bag of ice and good beer. A dinner party, paper cocktail napkins and a bottle of something special.

    Thinking about the extra “little essentials” can often help make the event easier on the hostess and guests.

  2. All good things to keep in mind and after watching 6 seasons of Downton Abbey I do know how to set a table.

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