Notorious Etiquette: How To Host A Dinner Party Organising like a Pro.

Dinner parties are not easy to organise, as everyone who’s ever hosted one can tell, but they should be a relaxed and fun experience for both – the guests and host. We have some handy tips to make you the perfect host and your dinner party, a night to be remembered!

1 – Plan Ahead

Vintage image of a host sitting at her desk, organizing a dinner party.
. Think over the evening

Think through the whole evening, maybe you will find some mismatches in your plan. Is your group of guests homogenous? Do they all know each other, and if not, do they have something in common? Are there some exes? Does this affect your guest list? Maybe there is a significant cleaning that won’t be done in half a day. Many questions will come up while the host organises the dinner party. It is advisable to write down everything as soon as it comes to your mind. Make a memory note on your phone, devoted to the everything dinner party.

. Send Out Invitations

The kind of invitation depends on the level of formality of your dinner party. Handwritten invitations sent by mail are beautiful but, quite frankly, not often one has time for that, maybe a WhatsApp message would be enough. Our tip here is, in case of doubt, to go big because no one has ever complained about a lovely envelope in the mailbox.

2 – The sitting plan

Elegant people chatting at a fancy dinner.

Probably the most challenging part for a host when organising a successful dinner party is to get the sitting plan right. There are some crucial points to consider before deciding who is going to sit next to who, some more obvious than others. Split the couples but don’t split friends; they are the life of the party. Put fun people next to each other; their laughter will make for a great atmosphere. Don’t waste the wit of your entertaining guests sitting them next to dull ones  (there’s always at least one of those, isn’t it?). Better sit the dull one next to the egocentric who will be happy to talk about himself all night while the dull guest will be relieved he doesn’t have to try to be interesting. It’s a win-win arrangement.

Additionally, avoid sitting exes together; they might spend the evening making bitter remarks about each other or worse, decide to play footsie under the table and under the nose of an angry new better half. Sitting an ex next to the new spouse may also cause some awkward conversations that usually don’t end well.

3 – Create An Atmosphere

Elegant couple, lighting the candles on their dinner table.
. Music

Tastes are different, especially when it comes to music. Jazz, Brazilian Bossa Nova and Italian music of the ‘70s always create a nice atmosphere when you host a dinner party, whereas lounge music is just dreadful, don’t go there! Leave the loud ’80s songs for later, but make sure you don’t play Aretha Franklin or you won’t be able to stop that dear friend from kicking off her heels to dance barefoot on the table while she sings at the top of her lungs “I will survive”. What happens next won’t be fun, trust me.

. Lighting

Dimmed lights make your dinner party cosier, and more importantly, they are much more flattering, hiding the lines and wrinkles the host and guests may have! Use small table lamps instead of the ceiling lamp, in addition to lighting some candles.

4 – The Menu

Woman in the kitchen, wearing an apron and preparing a meal.

Choose an easy menu that you can cook ahead. Don’t serve too many courses as it would keep the host too busy to enjoy the dinner party, running back and forth. Prepare one main course with several little dishes instead; it’s more fun to have lots of things to choose from on the table, and easier to please all your guests. Also, this way, you won’t allow anyone to go on and on about their dietary restrictions; this is not a topic of conversation and no, having gluten intolerance doesn’t make you any special!

5 – Drinks

Elegant dinner party, with host and guests making a toast.

Two points are crucial when it comes to drinks: first, make sure that there is always water on the dinner table, a super-host offers both sparkling and natural water, although one of the most memorable dinners I’ve ever been to had a red fish swimming in each water jug, making it impossible for the guests to drink it! Second, serve good wine. Have white and red wine in stock and offer your guests both. Kick-off the evening with something bubbly like champagne, mimosas or prosecco. Read here why you should serve champagne. Additionally, check The champagne etiquette guide to learn how to serve your bubbly like a pro. Remember that when it comes to booze, less is not more. Have some extra bottles, just in case.

6 – When It’s Over

Smiling woman, soaking the dishes after a dinner party.
. Cleaning Up

This part does not affect your guest but will accrue you. As the perfect dinner party host, don’t start cleaning or loading the dishwasher while your guests are still there, it isn’t polite. Unless, of course, it’s already tomorrow and you have to get ready to go to work. Once they leave, store the leftovers in the fridge and soak the dirty dishes. Don’t leave any food leftovers on the plates; otherwise, you will regret it the next day.

. Thank you

As the host of a dinner party, you will surely receive thank you notes after it. But if you consider your evening was a success and you are thankful that your guests joined you, why not let them know it by writing a little “Thank You For Coming”-note? Again, they should match the level of formality of the party. Be sure to send them the next day.

Our editors select independently all products featured on Notorious-mag. However, when you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Photos via Shutterstock

VIDEOTHEQUE
Watch-all-Toggle