Have you ever been to a party where the host is running around, stressed out and constantly trying to make sure everything is perfect? Confession: at one time that person was me.
I have always loved hosting people at my house but by trying to make everything perfect for my guests, I sometimes ended up majorly stressed out and never had time to sit down and actually enjoy being with my company. But dinner parties don’t need to be fancy to be enjoyable. When it comes down to it, what makes a dinner party successful is good friends and good food.
So today I thought I would share my tips for hosting a perfectly low-key dinner party!
1. Keep your menu simple
Last year I threw an over the top Cinco de Mayo party (complete with a four-course dinner and mini piñatas for all my guests!), but this year I wanted to celebrate with something a little more low key. I decided on a simple Mexican themed menu featuring delicious and easy to make tacos.
When hosting a dinner party, you should always plan to serve a meal you have cooked before. I love trying new recipes, but when you are cooking for guests, you are much better off making something you are comfortable with. I’ve made tacos hundreds of times using the classic Old El Paso taco dinner kits, so I knew it was a safe bet to serve for my dinner party. Plus, have you ever met anyone who doesn’t love tacos?!?
2. Choose easy & inexpensive decor.
For the perfect stress-free dinner party, keep the decor simple and effortless. A small vase filled with your favourite blooms and a few candles is all you really need for a centrepiece. To keep things affordable, get creative and style your table with decor pieces you already own. For my dinner party, I repurposed my favourite Mexican blanket as a table cloth then added a geometric candelabra and cute pineapple sculpture I’ve had for years.
3. Prep food & ingredients before the party begins.
As much as possible, I like to choose appetizers and desserts that can be made before guests arrive. However, some dishes inevitably will need to be put together at the very last minute so they are served hot and fresh. Recently I learned about the French idea of “mise en place”. Essentially it is a fancy way of saying making sure all your ingredients are prepared and measured before you start cooking. By setting out a mise en place before your dinner party begins, you will be able to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests. For my Cinco de Mayo dinner party, I made sure to chop the lettuce, shred the cheese and set aside the ground beef and Old El Paso seasoning I would need to finish making the tacos once my guests arrived.
4. Serve the meal family style.
Lets be honest, plating food beautifully is both extremely hard and time consuming. Save yourself the trouble by serving dinner family style. Whether you pass food around the table or set up a small buffet either method will save you from stressing out when it’s time to serve the meal. The added benefit of serving dinner family style is that guests can serve themselves however much they want of each dish you prepared. And if a guest doesn’t care for a certain dish, they can choose to quietly refrain from adding it to their plate instead of feeling self conscious about not finishing everything a host plated and served to them.
I hope this post inspired you and makes you feel less intimidated about hosting your own dinner party!
Do you have any tips for hosting dinner parties? I would love for you to leave a comment and share your thoughts. Also, make sure to head to my Instagram account today to enter to win an Old El Paso gift basket and $250 Walmart gift card! Good luck!
– Special thanks to Old El Paso for partnering on this post! –