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How to host the best dinner party

August 19, 2015

All of us would like to be able to be the guests of excellent hosts. Of course, if we can’t be guests, we can at least try to be good hosts. This means a pleasant evening all around and a better atmosphere and outcome. Most of us think that simply having a home and a free night is sufficient reason and justification to hold a dinner evening, but that would be short-sighted. So we should consider some tips and ways that constitute good hosting.

The most important step is planning and preparation. This means deciding on numbers, the food that will eaten – and subsequent dietary requirements – the drinks needed (alcoholic or non-alcoholic?) and so on. One of the best ways to try begin doing this is to consider a checklist, such as this one, which allows you to navigate through the various groupings of items.

We can’t overlook anything: from plates and utensils to dining room furniture and lighting. All of this matters because if any one aspect isn’t good, it can ruin an entire evening. For example, you can have the best meal but it will be meaningless if guests have no seating; and if you have the best seating, why would they want to stay for meals they can’t consume. Find out everyone’s needs as much as possible, without being too nosey.

Another important aspect is to, ironically, not go too far. Don’t try a new dish on the night. As chef site, Bon Apetit notes:

“DON’T attempt a maiden voyage. It might seem like a good idea to try a new recipe for your guests, but there are few things sadder than realizing that the pork was supposed to have been butterflied by a butcher or rest for four hours…45 minutes before guests arrive.”

By then it’s too late and you could’ve royally subverted any attempts to entertain your guests in a meaningful, enjoyable way.

The Kitchn notes five markers of an excellent host: First, she’s relaxed, but alert and engaged with all the guests; this is accomplished by knowing you’ve set in motion the machine of the evening that will have dinner ready, drinks served, music playing well before the first guests arrive.

Second, a host makes the guests feel special and pampered. When you enter their home…

“There’s a place to put your things (or someone to take them), something to eat and drink, somewhere comfy to do it, and someone to talk to while doing it.

“That in and of itself is good enough for most people, but a good host keeps it coming.”

Third, you are given the right amount of alcohol; fourth, the right amount of food and munchables. And, finally, guests are never made to feel rushed or ordered to do something to make the evening happen. That’s up to the host’s performance, not guests’.

Considering these simple steps, you could end up with a magnificent evening that will be spoken about for years.

(Photo by Dana Robinson, link)

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