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How to Throw A Dinner Party When You Have No Idea How To Throw a Dinner Party

posted on November 22, 2019 | by Kelley Matney

How to Throw A Dinner Party When You Have No Idea How To Throw a Dinner Party

Watching TV when I was younger there was something that kept showing up, seeming to me like a typical adult pasttime, the dinner party.

Whether it was Niles and Frasier trying to plan the perfect guest list to raise their social standing in Seattle, Carrie introducing her Russian boyfriend to the girls on Sex and the City, Monica planning an intricate meal on Friends, or the iconically awkward and hilarious dinner party episode on The Office. From its prevalence on television, I assumed that the dinner party was an adult rite of passage. However, by the time I turned 30 I had yet to be invited to a dinner party. It just wasn’t something my friend group was doing. So I took things into my own hands.

Here are some tips I learned from hosting my first ever dinner party.

Don’t Use This as a Time to Experiment

Unless you want that to be the theme of the night. But I’ve found its best to keep it simple and stick to dishes you’ve cooked before so there won’t be any surprises day off. Picking a theme can help you narrow down food choices but it’s not a requirement. I found family-style is the easier way to serve, much more manageable then plated service.


General rule of thumb is anything you can do ahead of time, do ahead of time. This includes basic things like filling water pitchers, setting the table and stocking up on ice (double what you think!). But also, if you are making the desserts those can usually be made a day or two ahead of time. Many side dishes can be made the night before. Try cutting all your veggies ahead of time too it’s a big timesaver. Finally, make sure your dishwasher is empty the day of the party and fill it up as you go so there is no pile of big scary dishes you are trying to hide as the guests arrive.

Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource

Buy dessert from a local bakery or order a bunch of appetizers to go from your favorite restaurant. A dinner party doesn’t mean you have to make everything yourself. It’s about the conversation, the time spent together and the fun environment.


Keep it simple. Make a batch cocktail (think Sangria, Moscow Mule, etc.) or stick to a couple options of red and white wine. More importantly, make drinks self-serve so that it is one less thing you have to worry about.

Set the Mood

Lighting, candles, music. These three things really set the ambiance for your gathering. Make a playlist ahead of time, I like to go with classic crooners like Miles Davis and Billie Holiday. Or quite literally just search ‘Dinner Party’ on Spotify and countless premade playlists will be at your fingertips (like this one!).

Light some pleasant-smelling candles (nothing too strong scent wise that will counteract the smell of the delicious dinner). Finally, dim the lights, low light always makes everything prettier. Twinkle lights are always a hit too.

Be Flexible

As much as you can plan ahead, things are not always go going to stick to schedule and that’s okay. People will be late. The side dish might be a little overcooked. Give yourself a break and don’t worry! People are there for the free food, great conversation, and yummy drinks.

Have you ever hosted a dinner party? What are some tips you’ve learned to make the whole process smoother?