The art of hosting a dinner party has become a little bit of a dying breed. Not many people get together for a night of good food and drink anymore. Instead, youngsters are hitting up bars and clubs to get their kicks. But, there is still something to be said for the simple dinner party as one of the most sophisticated ways to entertain. What isn’t there to love? Delicious, home cooked food. Free-flowing wine on tap. Great company in the form of your family and friends. It doesn’t get much better than that, if you ask me.

Could it be that people have become afraid of hosting a great dinner party? It is, after all, a lot of pressure to bear on your shoulders. The success or failure of the evening lies with you. That’s going to cause an awful lot of stress. But it shouldn’t be that way, should it? These gatherings are designed to be fun-filled occasions, not something to dread. So, how do we go about eliminating the stressful aspects, so we can focus on having a damn good time?

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Plan Ahead, Get Ahead

You don’t want to leave anything to chance. If you leave room for something to go wrong, you can bet that it will go wrong. Your fate is in your hands. You’re the one that gets to decide whether your evening is a roaring success or a colossal failure. Take every opportunity you can to get ahead, and that starts with some very meticulous planning.

The first step is writing your guest list. You want a bunch of tight-knit, close friends. The ones that wouldn’t give you too much of a hard time if everything did go wrong. A word to the wise; avoid warring exes. It will invariably end badly.

Planning your menu takes a great deal of preparation. Ask about dietary habits or allergies ahead of time. Hey, even your closest friends might have considerations you didn’t know about. Don’t try to push them out; work around it instead. Make sure you’ve got all the ingredients and equipment you’ll need. It’s probably worth doing a trial run, too, so you can pull it off seamlessly on the night.

No dinner party is complete without an abundance of wine which this article so appropriately details. You may not be a real connoisseur of the stuff, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take your sample menu to your local wine merchant and ask for his recommendations. He’ll be able to advise what wine will perfectly complement your food. Hey, why not? He’s the one with the sophisticated palate. He can also give you a heads up on whether it’ll need storing at room temperature or refrigerated. If the latter, check out some of these wine coolers reviews.

Get as much preparation work as you can done ahead of time. Make sure your plating is done and if you have it, use your sterling silver flatware. The last thing you want is for your hungry guests to be waiting around while you’re peeling potatoes. That’s a quick way to ensure that they get restless, anxious, and wonder why they even bothered coming.

Oh, and remember; you can never have too much ice.

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Get the Party Started

Remember, the atmosphere starts with you. You’re the one in charge. You’re the one that dictates the tempo of the evening. If you’re stressed out and downtrodden, that’s going to be contagious to your guests. And then? Nobody will have a good time. You’ve put a lot of hard work (and a fistful of cash) into this venture. Make the most of it, for crying out loud!

Leave no stone unturned in your quest to create the perfect atmosphere. If you’re going for the outright party vibe, piece together a Spotify playlist that subscribes to that. For a more low-key evening, it never hurts to put on some soothing sounds and dim the lights.

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Remember, the meal doesn’t start and end with your main course. You’ve got appetizers and dessert to contend with! Your buddies have probably been starving themselves all day for this occasion. You better not let them down! Don’t neglect the bookend courses. They’re every bit as important as the main. And go easy with the cheese board. Nobody wants to gorge themselves to the point that it’s a struggle to get through the rest of your offerings.

It’s worth keeping in mind that, although you may be the host, you’re supposed to be having a good time too. What good is the evening if you’re spending all night in the kitchen, with no time to socialize or eat yourself? You’ll be left regretting the entire thing. As I mentioned earlier, get all of the prep work done well in advance, so you have time to take the weight off your feet. Starters and desserts are usually pretty easy to throw together thoughtlessly, but the main course is a different beast.

When piecing together your menu, opt for something that you can just toss into the oven and tend to itself. That way, you can be getting on with other things. Also, keep in mind that you don’t want anything that takes too long to cook. That rules roast turkey out of the equation, then. Your guests aren’t going to want to sit around all night waiting for a bird that feels like it’s never going to come.

Finally, creating the perfect party ambiance is easier around pals. But it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve in case the conversation well runs dry. Have a shortlist of fun party games ready to go at a moment’s notice, and you should be fine. I bet everybody is buzzing when the forgotten art of charades makes an appearance. Nobody seems to take the time to sit around and just enjoy one another anymore. This can be a fantastic way to reconnect with old friends.

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Follow these simple tips, and you should find that your dinner party goes ahead without a hitch. Hey, thank us later. Or maybe send us a doggy bag. You know, whatever works for you.