Dinner Party Hostess with the Mostess

Hosting a dinner party at your home? Nothing will go un-done with this dinner party checklist. When it comes to party planning, procrastination won’t work in your favor so avoid it at all costs. There’s no such thing as being overly-prepared, so start checking things off the list even up to a month beforehand. Follow our guide, as we break it down based on the timeline.

One Month To Go

This is a vital time for party planning. During this period, you should work to nail down the big details of your event such as:

  • Will your party have a theme?
    A themed party should be engaging and seasonal. The theme could simply be incorporated with party décor, and could also play a part through selection of the menu. If you’re really passionate about a themed event, consider encouraging your guests to dress the part (i.e., Great Gatsby themed).
  • Select a date that works best with your calendar and your guests’ calendars.
    If it’s an intimate affair (with less than ten guests), it’s more important to work with each guest’s schedule. If it’s a bigger party (20 plus guests), don’t worry as much with accommodating each person. 
  • What’s the schedule of events? 
    How long do you want the party to last? Will you begin the evening with a cocktail hour? Will dinner be sit-down or self-serve/ buffet-style? Will dessert and after-dinner libations be offered? These are things to consider when looking at your event as a whole.
  • Set the menu. 
    Spend some time on this step. Don’t rush food selections in order to ensure that everything flows smoothly. Make notes of any dietary restrictions your guests may have.
  • Send invitations! 
    It’s important to let guests know when you’re planning you fun affair as soon as possible, so that they may work through any conflicts. If you’re mailing invitations, give yourself an extra week to ensure they have ample time to receive them. Guests should receive a snail mail invite at least three weeks in advance.

Two Weeks To Go

You should have more of an idea on number of attendees, and who those guests will be. Now, it’s time to look at the details.

  • Set the mood with music.
    If you’re planning a function with a theme, make sure your playlist reflects that theme. 
  • How many place settings?
    Make note of how many have replied, and reach out to those that have not. From there, you can determine how you’ll lay out the place settings.
  • Get creative with party décor.
    Much like with the music, make sure your decorations match the overall theme. Don’t overdo the ambiance on the tables, so guests can have plenty of room to indulge in their delicious meal.
  • Do it yourself.
    Start early with DIY projects, as you never know exactly how long it may take you to complete. Check out Pinterest for an endless amount of ideas.

One Week To Go

The fun is about to begin! Even though it’s crunch-time, it’s important not to stress. Here’s exactly what you should tackle within the week leading up to your party:

  • Clean, clean and clean again!
    Clean the week before, so it’s not something you’re worrying with the couple days before your event. Hire a cleaning service if that’s something you feel financially comfortable with.
  • Count inventory.
    Do you have enough cups, plates, flatware, drinks, etc.? Now is the time to count. Purchase a few extra in case.
  • Tackle your shopping list and cooking schedule.
    If you’re cooking yourself, make a detailed shopping list and double-check your recipes. Go through your pantry to make sure you don’t already have those items.
  • Create a seating plan.
    If you plan to have assigned seating, now’s the time to figure that out.

Three Days To Go

You’re probably anxious, excited and every emotion in between. As long as you’ve stayed on top of this planning checklist, you should be good to go!

  • Arrange (and rearrange) the furniture.
    If you need to move around any furniture to accommodate the flow of your party, do it now. Don’t move heavy items yourself, and ask a loved one to help.
  • Conceal any items you don’t want to be seen.
    Keep your unmentionables out of mention’s reach. Hide them in your closet, under your bed – wherever.
  • Time to shop!
    Head to the grocery with your lists intact. You’ll want to get everything you could need in one trip. Buying alcohol? Consider each guests will have one glass per hour. A wine bottle holds about five glasses. Do the math before heading to the liquor store. Don’t forget – the more, the merrier.
  • Where will guests place their coats and purses?
    Guest bedrooms typically function the best for storage for guests’ items. Just make sure it’s not the same room where you’ve hidden your unmentionables.

Tomorrow, tomorrow!

Your event is in ONE day! Get a good night’s rest and wrap up anything you need to wrap up.

  • Set the table.
    If possible, do this the day before so you won’t have to bother with it day-of.
  • Prep your eats.
    Do what you can the day before, to ensure a productive day in the kitchen.
  • Last minute touch ups
    Re-dust the areas that need it. Make sure the bathrooms are clean, and there’s plenty of toilet tissue in reach. 

Party time!

Alas, the day of your much-anticipated party is here! Before guests arrive, make sure you’ve done the following:

  • Purchase floral arrangements.
    Flowers are the simplest, most elegant way to spruce up any dinner table, making them a must-have for dinner parties!
  • Do you need extra ice?
    Ice trays don’t always do the trick. Ice makers, themselves, aren’t always reliable. Run by the gas station and get a few packs of ice in case.
  • Do your chores. Empty the dishwasher.
    Do yourself a favor. Go ahead and allow for your dishwasher to be at max-capacity by the end of the evening. (Convince a friend to stay afterwards and help you with the dishes. Wine works as a great incentive for this.)
  • Set up finishing touches on décor.
    Light the candles, and make sure you haven’t forgotten to set up anything.
  • Put on your party dress.
    You’ve worked hard on this – you deserve to look and feel your best.
  • Have fun!
    Pour yourself a glass of wine and... there goes the doorbell. Enjoy a lovely evening with your guests! They’ll appreciate it, and you, more than you know.

This blog post was adapted from La Crema.

Image courtesy of Creation Studios.

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