Hosting A Fabulous First Dinner Party

Sometimes you've got to take a break from dating and internet dating (too much screen time isn't good for your brain, after all), and unwind with friends. And while you can always go out and have a good time at your favorite sushi place, there's something really festive (and private) about entertaining your friends at home. Unfortunately, there's also something a bit intimidating about it... especially if you've never hosted a dinner party before.

But cooking for friends doesn't have to be overwhelming; or even all that difficult. After all, a dinner party isn't about perfect manners, perfect food, and stiff conversation. Unless, of course, you're Martha Stewart. Dinner parties are really about spending time and sharing food with the people that you enjoy. And if you keep some of the easy tips below in mind, it really is easy to do a festive dinner party right.

Keep it small and familiar. There's a time and place for inviting everybody you know to your home for a party. But when you simply want to hang out and have a great time, a large guest list will only stress you out. The best dinner parties are intimate ones. Invite a few of your close friends, and keep it small and simple. Conversation will flow best if everybody knows one-another, so keep invites within a close group of friends.

Test out your stuff. Some of us are more practiced cooks than others. But even the most professional cooks generally test out their recipes before inviting people over to try them. Especially if you're not an experienced cook, take time to plan a menu well in advance of the dinner party, and choose recipes that sound both tasty and within your level of cooking ability. A couple of weeks before the party, prepare all of the recipes you've chosen. If any seem too hard to make or don't turn out great the first time around, replace those recipes with something else.

While you're doing this "practice run," also take time to look at your cooking schedule. Was it simple to have everything prepared at the same time, or are some of your recipes getting in the way of each other? Do you have enough space in your oven or on your stove for each dish? A practice run is the best way to answer these questions and assure that things will go smoothly the night of your party.

Ask for help. When invited to a friend's house for a dinner party, most people like the idea of doing something to help out. It shows that they appreciate the invite... and that they appreciate their host. Well, let them! Especially if this is your first dinner party, the fewer things to take care of, the better off you'll be. Ask one friend to bring a dessert, another to bring some wine (specify what kind you want, if you like), and another to bring rolls or a side dish. You get the idea.

Make it ahead. Trying to make too many things at once is the single biggest mistake that first timers make when planning a dinner party. To avoid being rushed, sweaty, and stressed on the night of your party, plan as many make-ahead dishes as possible. Many things, like pies, breads, etc., can be made and frozen weeks ahead of time. Just pop them out of the freezer the morning before, and heat them up if necessary. Other things, like soups, stews, sauces, etc., can be prepared the afternoon of the party and left sitting until ready to re-heat and eat. Even if you don't have many make-ahead items on your menu, you can simplify things by assembling some ingredients ahead of time, such as tossing together a salad, but adding dressing only at the last moment.

There's almost nothing as warm, fun, and festive as eating and drinking with friends. As long as you take a little time to plan, your first dinner party doesn't have to be stressful. In fact, it may turn out so great you'll be required to host one every other weekend! Sure, all that planning takes time away from searching through internet dating sites for the perfect partner, but hey... it's worth it.

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About The Author, Shawn Wilson
This article was written by Shawn Wilson, a member of the customer support team at Datepad, where internet dating is always free. Datepad has a massive directory of informative dating articles along with a great list of dating site reviews on their dating blog.