Dinner Party- How to Plan

Dinner party


Your place is done and ready to be shown off, what better way than invite your closest friends and family to take a peek at all the hard work you put into your beautiful home.


4 To 6 Weeks Before Your Dinner Party:

  • Decide the theme and whether you wish to host a casual dinner party or a formal dinner.
  • Establish your budget.
  • Create guest list.
  • Create an online invitation

3 To 4 weeks Prior To Your Dinner Party:
It’s time to start thinking about the dinner party food and decorations.

  • Create a menu.
  • Book caterers and bartenders if necessary. (When booking a bartender, try one of your local bartending schools, they often will work for just tips in return for the practice and experience.)
  • Make a grocery list.
  • Plan a cooking schedule (what can be made ahead of time, what needs to be made they day of).
  • Decide on the table setting and place orders with a rental company, if needed.
  • Buy or borrow serving pieces and accessories.
  • Select music.
  • Purchase candles or other outdoor lighting if needed. Candle light is an inexpensive way to create an elegant ambiance.

1 To 2 Weeks Prior To Your Dinner Party:

As the countdown is on and you receive RSVP’s for your dinner party here’s a checklist of things to gather and create.

  • Purchase nonperishable goods.
  • Decide on the types of drinks to be served. (If you hired a bartender, finalize your order)
  • Consult with a florist or check out your local farmers market for great seasonal blooms.
  • Place special orders with the butcher, fish market or grocery store.
  • Confirm plans with the caterer, entertainer, and serving help. Arrange for a sitter to watch children and pets during the party.
  • Buy gas or charcoal for the grill, if needed.
  • Decide on a party outfit.
  • Begin a thorough housecleaning – Let your cleaner know there will be an event, and make sure you book them for the day after as well.

2-3 Days Before Your Dinner Party:

  • Clean serving ware.
  • Purchase remaining grocery items.
  • Check recipes for how far in advance food can be prepared.
  • Start food prep.
  • Create a party-day game plan.
  • Determine seating arrangements- if needed.
  • Print place cards, if using them.

Day Before Your Party:

  • Buy a great gourmet coffee blend.
  • Pick up any dry cleaning needed for the party.
  • Continue housecleaning- make sure the powder room is stocked with plenty of soap and TP.
  • Continue food preparation for those dishes that can be made in advance.
  • Set your tablescape.

And finally, things to do the day of your dinner party

  • Pick up party orders.
  • Create a bar area.
  • Take out extra supplies.
  • Finish cooking.
  • Organize the kitchen for the final countdown.
  • Give yourself a breather- have a glass of wine.
  • Get in party mode- the fruits of your labor are about to pay off!

With the dinner party in full swing, here are a few things to get in mind

  • Try not to spend too much time in the kitchen- your guests want to see you!
  • Offer refreshments in between courses.

Items to check and stock up on for your dinner party

  • Make sure you have space on your coat rack, plenty of hangers or a separate room to put coats and bags in.
  • Get plenty of ice and make sure you have an ice bucket, and ice tongs or scoop.
  • Cocktail napkins
  • Toothpicks
  • Paper towels
  • Plates (appetizer, salad, dinner, dessert)
  • Glasses (water, wine, mixed drink, beer, soda, coffee); some beverages can use the same type of glass
  • Silverware (enough for all courses and stirrers for coffee)
  • If grilling, check the tank, charcoal, and lighter fuel. Make sure you have plenty of bug spray and citronella candles too.
  • Coffee and assortment of tea bags
  • Cream and sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Wine and bottle opener
  • Bar garnishes (lime, lemon, olive)
  • Garbage bags
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Club soda (for spills and spots)
  • Space to chill beverages. It only takes beer, wine and soda 20 minutes to chill on ice. A large tub or cooler can be set up in a room out of the way.

Post Party

After your smashing dinner party, keep a journal. Include what you served, who was there, and how it went. Make notes on how to improve your next dinner party as well as what made this one successful!