Tips for Hosting a Dinner Party
As a private chef, I have had the pleasure of cooking for over seven hundred dinner parties in the US and Canada. And while each dinner party is as unique as your guests and your menu, here are some tips that you can use to make your dinner party a fun and memorable experience for both you and your guests.
Hire a Personal Chef
Yes, this is obvious! We take care of the menu planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, serving, and cleaning up the kitchen. If you want to take 90% of the stress off of your dinner party experience, a personal chef is the way to go. Plus, this allows you to actually spend time with your guests, which is the first reason that you invited them, right?
Order a pizza and maybe a clown!
If you have kids joining your dinner party, regardless of the menu, the safest thing you can do is order delivery pizza. I have never met a kid (without severe allergies) that doesn’t love eating pizza out of a take-out box. Even for fancy parties, this works! Trust me. And after that, be sure to have things to keep them occupied: hire a clown, rent a jumping castle, hire a lifeguard and let them swim in the pool all night, and you can even rent a guy that will show up with an air-conditioned trailer full of comfy seats, screens and an all-you-can-play buffet of video games! While we will happily cook for your kids, I just know how happy take-out pizza makes them!
Whether you’ve known your guests your whole life, or just met them at the office last week, some people can be shy and uncomfortable in social situations. Your job is to make them feel welcome and comfortable. Greeting them at the door is good manners. So you should have someone doing door greets if you can’t. I think it can make people feel a little uncomfortable to have to search around your house like burglars and find their own way in. And when they do come in, offer them wine, beer or a cocktail, or even just a drink so they have something to hold in their hands (a security blanket for adults). This has worked for two thousand years, and it still works today.
Don’t forget that water
I know that many of you can get carried away planning the most splendid assortment of wines, beers and fancy cocktails at your home bar, and it’s so much fun to play bartender for your guests, but I am mentioning this because it happens more often than you think – people forget to provide water! So, remember to pick up a case or three of bottled water and place it in an iced cooler for your guests. In Florida, after a couple of hours of drinking and likely sweating, people will need water. If you want to get fancy, you can offer ice-cold sparkling water cans or bottles, those are magnificent when you’re dehydrated! And if you want to be the host or hostess with the mostest, you can even provide bottles or take-out cups filled with electrolytes and vitamin B powder to sober up your guests and prevent a headache and hangover the next day.
Be kind to their rears
At some point, everyone is going to want to have a seat. Many of you have beautiful houses, but you may be lacking enough seats and/or sofas. Luckily, you can rent chairs from party rental companies. They will drop them off and pick them up. And you can even rent sofas and couches from home rental stores. Your guests will thank you!
Have a plan for entertainment
Having a plan for entertainment can be a great way to keep your guests engaged and entertained throughout the evening. Everyone loves a great dinner made by a professional chef, the pre-dinner appetizers go great with wine and cocktails while your guests are arriving and settling in, and our multiple-course dinners will have your guests raving for years to come! But you can make it even more memorable by having something special to do after dinner. You might consider hiring a musician, trying out a variety of cigars, renting a photo booth, setting up karaoke, having a trivia game, or planning a group activity in which everyone can participate if they wish to. Even setting up some chairs and a nice fire out back to chill out with can be a great way to end the evening with your friends and family. If you are going to have extra entertainment, make sure to tell your guests ahead of time so that anyone that will be uncomfortable can stay home – like when you hire strippers – I’m sorry, but I’ve seen a lot in my career as a personal chef and I’m trying to cover all the bases here!
From my personal experience, please don’t do a Murder Mystery party! They are tediously long and your guests will be ready to leave long before you find out, “Who dunnit.” Also, if you hire a wine connoisseur you may want to ask them to keep their presentations reasonably short. It’s interesting to know where wines come from, but nobody cares what the wine maker’s cousins’ name was, or a 30-minute explanation of how when they visited the vineyard 7 years ago, during fall, when they rented a Chevy Malibu, blue, think it was….with cloth seats….and cup holders… there were birds in the field…. black ones… and brown ones too….they were moving dirt from one side of the vineyard to another. I’ve seen instances where the wine person talks for so long that the guests start to fall asleep – and not from the wine! Make sure the entertainment does not turn into a chore!
Being prepared for your dinner party will help ensure that everything runs smoothly. Make sure you have enough plates, glasses, cutlery, and napkins. We can help source these or coordinate with a party rental company. Also, have a first aid kit, and plenty of towels, make sure your plumbing can handle extra guests, and encourage your guests to take an Uber or taxi so nobody has to drink and drive.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your dinner party is a success and that your guests have a great time. Remember to also take care of yourself, don’t hesitate to ask for help, and try to enjoy the process. We can provide servers and bartenders to further free you from your hosting duties. And depending on the scope of your event, we can provide a party planner that will literally plan and coordinate every aspect of your event, so that all you have to do is say, “Chef, I want to have a party!”
Hosting a dinner party is a great way to bring friends and family together for a memorable evening of good food, good company, and good conversation. With a little planning and preparation, your dinner party is sure to be a success. And we can help make it a memorable night to remember.