Dinner parties can be tricky. If you get the guest mix wrong, your food is a disaster or something else bad happens, even a good party can take a downward spiral you won’t forget in a hurry. For low-key soirées with friends, it probably doesn’t matter all that much. After all, one disastrous dinner party isn’t going to wreck your social standing too much. But if your dinner parties have a nasty habit of taking a turn for the worse, it is time to take steps to fix that.
The Wrong Guests
Guests make or break a dinner party. There will be occasions when you have no choice about who’s invited. For example, if your significant other is trying to wangle a promotion, inviting his boss and wife is a given. However, in most cases, you are in charge of the guest list, so bad decisions will have a ricochet effect.
Make a list of prospective guests and categorize them as follows.
- Fun and outgoing
- Quiet and shy
- Given to controversial viewpoints
- Can’t hold their liquor
- Boring and/or obnoxious
For obvious reasons, it is best to avoid inviting anyone who falls into the boring and/or obnoxious category, as they won’t add anything to the occasion. You also need to be very careful with types 3 and 4, as they could derail your party before you have hit the dessert course. #6 is also tricky, as they are a wildcard. Try not to include more than one wildcard couple, just to be on the safe side.
The rest can be placed so they bring out the best in each other. For example, if you have someone you know is a bit shy, place them next to a friendly, outgoing type who will put them at their ease.
An important dinner party is not the time to be gung-ho with your cuisine. Save your kitchen roadkill experiments for family unless you want your guests to be amazed and appalled in equal measure. For best results, check whether guests have any food intolerances or allergies and plan a menu accordingly. Stick to recipes you have tested already, so you know the expected outcome. Try and prepare as much in advance as possible. Last minute kitchen disasters are more easily avoided that way. It is also sensible to have some extra dishes in reserve, just in case.
Dazzle your guests with some new dishes and cutlery. Plain white plates are boring. Try mixing and matching some quirky hand-painted items from an antique dinner service or design your own. Combine with some rose gold cutlery and handmade table decorations and you have a great conversation point to get the party started.
Avoid being too generous with the alcohol unless you want to live with the fallout. Not everyone can handle their drink and alcohol has a habit of bringing underlying issues to the fore. The last thing you need is for a simmering domestic problem to spill out during your dinner party!
Finally, relax and try to have fun. It’s only a dinner party after all, not life or death.