Step-by-step Guide to Plan Your Dinner
Preparation is key to ensure a successful dinner party.
Here is a step-by-step guide of what to think about when planning for a dinner party or entertaining friends at home.
A Week Before
- It is best to plan your menu a week before, especially if you will be entertaining a large group of people or if hosting for a special occasion. The dishes you decide to serve on that day should be influenced by the season and the availability of certain produce.
- Always make sure none of your guests have any food allergies. If they do, you will have to either change your menu or offer these guests an alternative dining option.
- Once you have planned your menu, start thinking about pairing wines. You might need some time to purchase new bottles of wine especially if you don’t have the suitable ones at home.
- Think about your table setting (read my previous article on “how to set your dining table”) and table decoration so you have a vision of how you plan to decorate on the day. Depending on the occasion, you may need to purchase a few little extras to finalise the look you envisage, or add a little festive spirit if it's around Christmas time.
- Start thinking about a seating plan. The worst thing ever is to look totally unprepared when guests start sitting around the dining table. You should know exactly where each of your guests will be seated.
1 or 2 Days Before
- If you think you are going to be limited in the amount of time you will be able to spend in the kitchen on the day of your dinner, then you might want to prepare some dishes beforehand. It can be a dessert or a starter for instance.
- Check your cutlery and crockery stocks. If they have been stored in your cupboard for a couple of weeks, you may want to give them a bit of clean before you start plating food on them. Check your tablecloth and napkins as well, as they may need ironing.
- Go shopping for your ingredients and get the flowers if you plan to decorate your home with flower arrangements.
- Send a reminder to your guests.
- In any case, it is useful to keep a record of the event – the date, what was served, who attended and how the food was received. This will serve as a useful reminder and resource for the next time you are planning a menu, especially if you are entertaining the same guests!
When organising a dinner party at home, do not minimise the importance of planning. Small details do make a big difference, especially in terms of entertainment, so make sure that you don’t overlook anything and your dinner party is sure to be a resounding success.
Check out also this article I wrote for GourmandAsia.com.