7 Tips For Hosting Your First Dinner Party

Oct 20, 2023

how to throw a dinner party, tips for throwing a dinner party

‘Tis the season for gathering.

As the colder months creep in and the holidays quietly approach, we start to feel an overwhelming urge to host. Whether it be the comfort of a few loved ones or the warmth of a full home, this is the time we break out our hosting hats and throw a dinner party.

Below, we’ve outlined 7 of our top tips for hosting a dinner party, and each one will ensure that your friends think of you as the “host with the most.”

Check ‘em out below.


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Define your dinner party vibe.

Are you looking for more of a mingle and munch kind of evening? Or a family-style, sit-down affair?

Whatever your vision, first aim to define the overall feel and flow of your party—this will not only help you to plan the menu, but will also give you an idea of when you want guests to arrive, how you want to set up your space and, most importantly, who you want to attend.

This is also the time to decide on a theme. Whether it’s as simple as an elevated wine and cheese night or as in-depth as a Great Hall feast straight out of Harry Potter, the theme should serve two purposes: amplify the fun and overall vibe and, ideally, be as stress-free as possible.

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Invite your guests.

This goes without saying, but a party without guests is, well, not a party.

Once you’ve decided on the theme or vibe of your dinner party, you’ll want to hammer out the guest list. And while you may be inclined to invite each and every one of your friends, paring the guest list down to a select 6–8 close friends can help make the evening more manageable.

Plus, you’re less likely to have to worry about playing conversation referee all night if your guests are somewhat familiar with each other.

Once you’ve narrowed down the guest list, it’s time to send out the invites!

While we’re fans of the e-vite (big tree huggers over here!), a traditional paper invitation goes a long way toward impressing your guests. Ideally, however, your invites should act as a preview to your guests about what to expect at your party.

For example, you wouldn’t send a formal invitation for a laid-back game night or a mass text invitation for a classy sit-down dinner. So, try to find an invitation style that matches the vibe you’re looking to give off. And be sure to include important details such as time, location, dress code (if applicable) as well as other important details such as parking, RSVP deadlines and what they should bring, if necessary.

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Plan the menu.

Once you’ve ironed out your theme and narrowed down the guest list, it’s time to focus on the star of the show: the food.

Not sure what to cook? Use your theme as a jumping-off point and then sprinkle in any dishes that accommodate dietary restrictions, allergies or preferences.

As for the menu, aim for 3–4 courses: appetizers or hors d’oeuvres, a salad or soup course, the main meal and, finally, coffee and dessert. (For a more casual cadence or if you’re opting for a family-style meal, skip the soup/salad course and serve these at the same time as your main meal.)

Chef’s Tip: Choose dishes that can be (mostly) prepared ahead of time or that can sit out for a while without losing their flavor or visual appeal. By doing so, you’ll not only save yourself time (re: stress) day of, but you’ll also spend less time in the kitchen and more time mingling with guests.

If you need a little inspiration, here are a few of our favorite go-to recipes:


Delicious and surprisingly simple, these stuffed mushrooms are not only guaranteed crowd-pleasers, but the filling can be made ahead of time and then assembled and baked a few hours before guests arrive.

These savory, bite-size tarts are sure to please. To save time, prepare the onion and Brie filling the day before your dinner party and store covered in the refrigerator. Let it come to room temperature before moving on to the final steps in the recipe.

Everyone loves a good charcuterie board, and this one is packed with the heart-warming flavors of fall. And it takes little to no prep, which means less stress for you!

Salad or Soup:

Soup is great for dinner parties because it can usually be made in advance and reheated just before serving. For this French onion soup recipe, simply spoon the premade soup into ramekins or mini cocottes and top with sliced bread and cheese—as the cheese melts and the bread toasts, the soup will warm up to bubbly goodness.

As with the French onion soup above, this butternut squash soup recipe can be made in advanced and warmed on the stove before serving. As the soup reheats, make the croutons. Then, serve and enjoy.

For this salad, prep the pears ahead of time and allow them to cool before assembling. Once they’ve come down in temp, assemble the salad without the dressing about an hour before you want to eat and store in the fridge.


This one might seem intimidating, but once the main prep is done, these short ribs need to slow cook for about 3 hours. This will give you more time to work on other dishes or mingle with guests while it finishes cooking.

Sheet pan recipes are great for dinner parties because you can make a bunch of servings at once. You can even prep the chicken (after it’s done brining) and let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook.

Fish often gets a bad rap at dinner parties because it’s easy to both over and under cook. But this recipe uses a sheet pan to cook both the fish and the potatoes in under an hour.

Mac and cheese might feel like it’s not elegant enough for your dinner party, but with the addition of creamy, warm butternut squash—trust us—no one will care. The best part? You can bake it ahead of time and simply reheat in the oven once guests have started to arrive.


Lemon bars, like brownies, are a great dessert option because they’ll feed a crowd and are relatively easy to make. Both the dough and the finished bars can be made in advance, which means all that’s left to do is gobble them up.  

Like soufflés but much easier, these chocolate pots de crème can be made several days in advance and refrigerated until ready to enjoy.

Fondue is a great treat for a crowd and is probably the easiest of these recipes to make. And if popcorn isn’t your thing, bananas, strawberries and pretzels are all great alternatives.

how to throw a dinner party, tips for throwing a dinner party

Divide and conquer.

The best advice our chefs have for hosting a large gathering? Make a plan and stick to it.

Start by determining the time you want to eat and work backwards from there—what takes the longest to prepare? What can you make ahead of time? What can be done day of?

Shop for nonperishable groceries and any decorations or party favors about 2 weeks before your party, and save perishables or items like ice for the day before or the day of. Decorate and set your table 2–3 days in advance—while this may seem like a minor detail, getting it out of the way early will save you loads of stress on the day of the party.

tips for throwing a dinner party, how to throw a dinner party

DIY your drink options.

Just as you don’t want to spend all night in the kitchen cooking, you shouldn’t spend all evening playing bartender, either.

So, let your guests do it themselves!

Set up a drink station with glassware, drink markers or cocktail stirrers, wine, beer, cocktail fixings and sparkling water and let your guests refresh their glasses as often as they like. Our favorite trick? Batched cocktails! (This Harvest Punch is one of our favorites!)

Not only are they an easy way to add some festive touches to your party, but guests will love the ability to help themselves.

tips for throwing a dinner party, how to throw a dinner party

Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.

While it might be tempting to do everything yourself, a good host always asks for help.

Whether it’s asking for guests to bring a few dishes or bottles of wine or to chip in with cleanup, delegating tasks that you don’t need to handle is a great way to get your guests involved.

Got a few guests who like to show up early? Hand them a knife and set them to chopping! Have guests that tend to show up a tad later than everyone else? Send them to the store for ice!

Delegating is a great way to take a few less important tasks off your plate so you can focus on other things.

tips for throwing a dinner party, how to throw a dinner party

Entertain but don’t constrain.

In our experience, this is probably the hardest tip to follow—you want your guests to have fun and for your party to be remembered as a hit. But there’s a fine line between playing host and abiding by an itinerary.

Let conversation flow and let your guests mingle and hang out. Have a few games on standby in case things start to get quiet, but otherwise, let the natural chemistry of the party take control.

And don’t forget to have a little bit of fun yourself.

Happy hosting!


Hungry for more? From everyday whiteware to seasonal décor that’s sure to please, our dinnerware collections have everything you need to host the dinner party of your dreams.

Shop Our Dinnerware Collections

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