Dinner Party by Anders P
So, you've taken the plunge and gotten yourself a new place. You've spent hours moving in and days unpacking. And on top of that, there are the countless sleepless nights spent debating which colour would be best suited to the dining room walls and which pieces of furniture you might have to leave on the curb because they just aren't going to fit. But all that is behind you, and you're finally ready to have people over and proudly show off what you've accomplished with your new home. And what better way to do that than with a dinner party? Here is a simple timeline of how you can get yourself ready for a night of entertaining.
Two Weeks or More in Advance
Decide whether you want there to be any particular theme to the evening (i.e. colour scheme, cultural trend, etc). You should also decide how fancy you want the evening to be so you can let your guests know what they should wear. You don't want anyone to feel like they came underdressed.
Make up a guest list. This may be dictated by the size of your place and/or the amount of preparation time you have. You don't want to overwhelm yourself, so make sure you only invite as many people as you can comfortably handle. You want this to be an enjoyable experience and not an evening of stress!
Determine the best way to send out your invitations. By mail is always a nice touch – especially since it's so rare in this day and age. But it's not a bad idea to save time and do it by e-mail. It's up to you whether you want to do the invitations in a stylized way that is in theme with your party or just stick to basics and get the word out simply.
by The Shopping Sherpa
One to Two Weeks in Advance
Make sure that any time-consuming work on your house has been completed. The last thing you want to be doing the morning of your dinner party is performing last minute picture hangings. So get all that decorating out of the way early!
Purchase any items you may not yet have. Examples of things you might need to invest in are cocktail napkins, candles, additional trays, centrepieces, or anything else you feel might contribute to the style of the evening.
The Day Before
Give your house a good cleaning — especially in those areas the guests are going to see most, like the kitchen, the main bathroom, and the dining room/living room. It also doesn't hurt to have your bedrooms and everything else organized because you know your friends will want the grand tour!
Do your grocery shopping. This can also be done two days before if you don't have too many perishable items, or even the morning of if you're an early riser or have a cake or something you want to pick up fresh.
Make a solid plan of attack for the big day. Map out which dishes can be made early and which ones will need to be timed to the guests' arrivals. For example, things like dips can be made the night before, and a salad or chopped veggies can be done far in advance the morning of, wrapped up and put in the fridge (just don't add any dressing until serving time).
The Day of
Rock Roll by EverJean
Start knocking off the items on your cooking list! Anything that can be preprepared and left in the fridge to await cooking should be tackled first. Hors d'hoeuvres like mini quiches and stuffed mushrooms can be put together and then tossed in the oven when your guests arrive so they're at their absolute freshest. Your entrée items will likely be the last things to go in (though elements of many side dishes and sauces can be started the night before or morning of).
Whenever you get a free minute, begin setting up the dinner table so it's all prepared for the guests' arrival. Feel free to use centrepieces, candles, and name cards for decoration. Also take a moment to place cocktail plates and napkins in the living room.
Make sure you give yourself enough time to get ready because the last thing you want is to still be in your robe when your friends start to arrive. A good gauge is to plan on being dressed and ready to go a half hour to an hour before the guests are scheduled to arrive. That way, even if you still have some cooking to do, you'll be ready to welcome them into your home and direct them to the mingling area.
And there you are – a successful dinner party is virtually guaranteed! You've worked hard to get to your new home, and now is the time to show off all you've accomplished. Welcome in your guests, relax, and enjoy the celebration!