Today is the second post in a two-part mini-series within a series about hosting a dinner party, written by my friend Joy of Living Life in the Shades of Grey. You can catch the first post, which covers how to plan for a dinner party. Today’s post goes into the nitty-gritty.
You came back!! I hope you’re still excited to host an AWESOME dinner party! Here are some thoughts on the nitty-gritty of Dinner Party week. *hint* you’re going to need to make a list.
For the ease of writing this blog, let’s say you’re having the party on Saturday at 4:30, eating at 5:30 (note: I like to host parties on Saturday since I generally don’t have to work). Here’s what your week should look like:
Sunday thru Tuesday – work on making your list (whos coming/to do/to make/to buy) and getting together all of your RSVP’s. If you’ve facebooked or e-mailed people to invite them, you may want to send a friendly reminder even to people that have said they are coming. This will remind people that they have made plans with you while reminding others to let you know that they need to tell you whether or not they will be there.
Also, do whatever cleaning you’re wanting done. Obviously there will be last minute things like dishes from the week (and to be frank, I like to clean my bathroom the day of the party), but you don’t want to have to think about cleaning while you’re cooking.
Wednesday – completely finalize your menu. Make a list of what you will need at the grocery store. Even if you’re not usually a grocery store list person, make a list this time! If you don’t there will inevitably be something forgotten, and you don’t want to have to think about going back to the store for it!
Thursday – Go to the store! Buy what needs buying (flowers will last more than 3 days!) Check off your list. Go home. Put the groceries away. Chill out, you deserve it. Set your table (except for flatware). Put the flowers out. Leave the glasses/stemware upside down, and the plates too! All you’ll have to do the day of the party is turn them over and set out your forks/knives/spoons.
Friday – Prep time. If you’re making lasagna like me, you can put the entire thing together on Friday night. Marinate meat of you’re making steak or chicken. Make a dessert that can be made altogether in advance, or put it together so all it has to do is be baked (if that’s possible).
Some of this you can do on Thursday after grocery shopping. Really the trick is, the more you can get done ahead of time; do it! If all of your prep work is done, you’ll really get to enjoy the day of your party. You’ll get to relax while you’re finishing cooking. Do as much ahead of time as you can!
Saturday a.k.a. Party Day! – Wake up. It’s a very important step! I would even allow yourself a little bit of time to sleep in. People aren’t coming over until 4:30. You have plenty of time! Once you’re up? Eat breakfast! Then you can finish cleaning. Dishes from the night before (you’ll have to bear with me, I don’t have a dishwasher and I know this isn’t really a step for most people anymore!). Bathroom (if you’re like me). Tidy what needs tidying.
Eat some lunch… I’d go for a small one because you’re going to be cooking an amazing dinner and you’ll really want to enjoy it! But you don’t want to be too hungry; you’ll need the energy for cooking and socializing, after all! Shower, get yourself ready, veg out…
Turn over the plates and glasses/stemware. Put out the flatware. Maybe add some water to the flower vase.
About two hours before everyone starts coming over, that’s when you’ll hit Dinner Party Mode. Checking to make sure things look good. Double check your recipes so you know how much time you have and what you’ll need to put in the oven when. Then all you need to do is coast until it’s time to cook.
Here’s how things work with my menu:
My lasagna takes about 45 minutes to cook, so I’ll turn the oven on to start heating up at 4:15. I cheat and use the microwave steamer bags, so my green beans are in the bag waiting to be microwaved until 5:15. My rolls will go in the oven for 10-15 minutes after the lasagna comes out to rest before cutting it. I like family style meals, so everything will make it to the table and we’ll eat.
Dessert? My apple cranberry crisp will go into the oven right around when people are done eating (I’ll sneak off to the kitchen quickly to get it in the oven). That way we get a break between dinner and dessert to let everything “settle” and my friends ready for some dessert. Once the crisp is done, I’ll bring it out with some ice cream! Yum!
I know I’ve done this before and I know it sounds crazy… but if you use my method, you should easily stay relaxed and sane! Friends will offer to help, let them or don’t. They’ll be thankful for all you’ve done for them and if they’re not, don’t invite them next time.