How to plan a dinner party

As a family, we like to cook and we like having people around for dinner. Whether this is a spur-of-the-moment invite or a properly planned dinner party, we always enjoy sharing our culinary adventures with good friends and family.

Planning a dinner party for 14 persons can be trouble but if you are organised it can turn out to be a great pleasure.

First you have to decide the theme of your dinner. Do you want it to be elegant or casual? Is it a dinner for an occasion (Xmas, birthday…)?

The theme needs to be decided in order to plan any decoration which can be done beforehand.

Then you have to write down your guest list and extend the invitations. Phone, mail, email or even SMS. If it is a formal dinner party a written invitation with all the details (date, time, address, RSVP date, dress code) would be nice, although nowadays written invitations look a bit old fashion!

The next thing you should do is Plan your Menu. Write your menu on paper and next to each dish write your shopping list and tick   every time you buy something. (I just love the ticks on my to do lists)! You can do your shopping in two or even three different phases. For example, the ingredients that are not perishable such as flour, sugar, mustards, rice etc can be bought and stored many days in advance. Wine, soft drinks, beer can also be bought and stored in advance. This is also the time when you can place your order at the butcher’s or fish market if necessary.

A week before you can start by cleaning any crystal, china and silverware that you will be using. You can also check your tablecloths and linens if they need to be washed, dry cleaned or ironed. Find all your plates, tableware, serving dishes and cookware. Allocate a serving dish for each menu item and label it with a Post-it note. You cannot imagine how helpful is this tip. Trust me.

At this point you can start thinking and preparing a playlist long enough to last for the duration of the dinner.

A day before the party you can finish your shopping (fresh flowers for your vases, vegetables, fruit, meat, fish….) and you can start your cooking preparations. If there are dishes that can be prepared in advance go ahead and do them. Setting the table is also something you can do the previous afternoon. Here I suggest that you make a sitting arrangement if you want your guests to mingle and of course the “boy-girl-boy” sitting is obligatory. You should also designate a place for coats. Whether this is a spare bedroom or a cupboard, make sure that there is enough space and hangers.

On the day of the dinner party, when everything else is ready, you will dedicate yourself to cooking. This is the fun part. What we do? (I say “we” because most of the time Yiannos and I cook together). I put my favourite music on and we start cooking. One hour before our guests arrive I have my shower, I dress, I do my hair, I serve myself a glass of white wine, I light the candles and I do the last minute preparations. For me the party has started!!!!!

There is nothing that makes us happier than sitting around the dinner table eating, drinking and talking until the candles are burned down.

Extra tips:

  • Always include seasonal produce in your menu
  • Keep your table decoration fresh and simple not competing with your food
  • Use your grandmother’s heirlooms sparingly for a touch of class (old silverware, embroidered napkins, candelabras)
  • Create atmosphere with your candles and side lamps

Featured in my friend’s lifestyle blog, Wednesday Morning Coffee.

Published on Thursday 23rd of February 2017
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Christiana Anastassiou