When Bridget Jones, the heroine of Helen Fielding’s hilarious novel Bridget Jones’s Diary, invited friends home for dinner, she served them blue soup (courtesy blue string that she had used to bind the celery). This was, of course, after she had planned an elaborate three-course dinner involving shepherd’s pie and soufflé and other such delights. And therein lies one of the keys to holding a fun dinner party: don’t bite off more than you can chew!
A dinner party is meant to be an occasion for joy. What good is it when it leaves you an emotional and physical wreck from the strain of too much cooking, not enough breathing, and too much worrying? An easy way to ensure a fun dinner party is to remember some of the best dinner parties that you have attended. What did they have that others didn’t?
Too many people spend too much time worrying about the food and drink (will there be enough?), seating arrangements (who goes next to whom?), and such things as table linen (beige napkins or white?). That is not to say that you can ignore these matters altogether, but just that you should be able to work out some sort of balance that allows your dinner party to become a fun occasion.
A huge step in the right direction is to make a list of everything that you liked about the fun dinner parties that you have attended. That way, you know what you can do to make yours a success. Conversely, you can also list some of the things that you hated about your least favorite dinner parties, just so you know what not to do.
Now here are some more dos and don’ts:
Do not wear yourself out worrying about the food. You’ll only end up cooking too much and crowding the table. Stick to two or three courses that you know you can handle well, and if you have fastidious guests, make sure you know their likes and dislikes. For instance, if a guest is on a diet, you should know what to serve him/her
Unless it is a really fancy dinner party, don’t fuss too much about table linen, cutlery, serving dishes, etc. Stick to the basics and focus more on making the conversation around the table witty and pleasant
Prepare all your food in advance. Nothing is worse than a host scurrying to and fro from kitchen to living room to attend to both the cooking and the guests simultaneously
Do not invite people that you don’t like
Ensure your guests know that they have to be there by a specific time
Pre-plan for potentially embarrassing incidents such as a drunken guest, tension at the dinner table because the guests aren’t getting along, etc.
If you think someone has had too much to drink, make sure s/he doesn’t have more
Finally, if you feel you absolutely cannot handle the cooking, order your food, but make no attempts to hide that fact!