5 Tips For Hosting A Large Dinner Party
As many of you know, I'm from a big family, so a dinner party with 14 people feels more or less regular. Spectacularly loud and fun, but still, common in my life. Whenever we are celebrating a birthday or special occasion, we have to book a restaurant's private dining room, or at the very least, follow a pre-fix menu. Now I'm getting married to Brandon, who is 1 of 5 siblings! So.... two big families and what do you get? A lot of coordinating when it comes to going out or staying in all together. Trust me, I understand that it can be difficult to just turn your mind off when a big group is buzzing in your home, but with just a few hints, it's something you too can do. Here are my suggestions for a smoother hosting process:
1. Do not plan a menu that involves ANYTHING which is cooked a la minute. This means that all of your appetizers, main course, dessert, etc, should be cooked in advance and ready to go when people ring the doorbell. I know the urge to bake things fresh for when guests arrive (like a tart, or a pizza) but keep in mind it's unlikely that you'll be able to properly eat it while it's hot. Unless you're having a pizza party and you have an oven made for baking quickly, just avoid this. Opt for foods that are best served at room-temperature, or just require a slide into the oven, like this delicious mustardy chicken.
2. Snacks, snacks, snacks. And wine. Think about how you eat the day of a dinner party. Probably on the lighter side, and then you have to do a million things, and then you have to get ready, and suddenly you're at your friends RAVENOUS. Right? Exactly. So assume that your guests will come over starving. Tame their wildebeest hunger levels by setting out snacks of your choice: cheese, chips n'dip, charcuterie, fresh veggies, etc. Personally, I'm never dressed or ready when the first guest arrives (#alwayslate) and the snack table buys me 20 minutes to change quickly and paint my face. Oh, and about personal cocktails. Just no, not for a large group. Stick to beer, wine, or a large-batch cocktail that you can put out a pitcher of for guests to help themselves.
3. Set your table the night before. I always forget how time consuming it is to set out tens of plates and forks and vases and omgosh where did my favorite platter go? By setting everything out the night before, you give yourself a cushion of extra time and space to think and move stuff around. Don't be scared of putting your flowers out the night before too! With water and some flower food, they'll stay just as fresh.
4. Plan the seating in advance. I know the monologue in your head when deciding whether or not to arrange seating. "It will be more fun to mix things up! I don't want it to be the same people sitting with one another!" With all due respect, there are reasons why certain people don't choose to sit with others. The point of your dinner party is to have a whole lot of fun, not to push people out of their comfort zone. It's simplest to think in advance about who gets along with whom, and arrange the seating that way. Another reason to do this is to avoid the awkward stand-around-the-table-and-wait situation that happens if people don't know where to go. People in large groups tend to need direction, so please just give it to them.
5. Don't forget about the ambiance. There is a lot more that goes into a dinner party than just the food, and it will be beneficial think about that ahead of time. If you light some candles, your home will smell like a spa, your guests will be more relaxed, AND someone will compliment them. Win, win. If you make a playlist ahead of time, or just choose a Spotify favorite, there will be fewer awkward silences. A few small flowers in a bud vase in the bathroom will make guests feel like they're at an upscale hotel or restaurant. Remember, it's the little details that are the most memorable.