Event Planning 101: 10 Tips For Hosting A Successful Dinner Party

Whether you’re new to hosting or you’re the second-coming of Martha Stuart, this post will help you whip together the best dinner party possible. Oh, and because we consider ourselves among the cleaning cognoscenti (*hair toss*), our tips skew towards the more, um, sanitary aspects of hosting. Now read on, and then, host on!

1. The invite list

Biggest rookie mistake? Not creating a digestible guest list.

Faster than you can say ‘overwhelmed’, would-be hosts and hostesses often get Titaniced by too many guests. Remember, a dinner party is different from a house party. First, they tend to be seated events. Second, there’s a drastic difference in the amount of work (not to mention price-tag) accompanying stuffed quail for six vs sixteen. In our opinion the perfect dinner party has between four and eight guests. Beyond eight and you may want to consider hiring a caterer.

A couple of other things to consider when making your guest list:

  • Do your guests know each other? If not, will they get along?

  • Are kids invited? If not, make sure you communicate that parents should ring their respective babysitters.

2. The pre-clean

Never heard of a pre-clean? Well, it’s actually one of our best tips for hosting a successful dinner party. Basically, here at VCM HQ, we break our cleaning into two digestible chunks: the pre-clean and the last-minute clean.

The pre-clean is tackled between 3–5 days in advance and is when the majority of the work is done. During this phase, we focus on bigger cleaning tasks such as yard work and vacuuming (ahem Simplicity S65 ahem), and tasks in low-traffic rooms such as a spare bedroom or office. This ensures the majority of cleaning is done well in advance. It also guarantees your hard work isn’t ruined by rambunctious youngsters or messy hubbies.

3. The last-minute clean

Speaking of said youngsters and hubbies, it’s inevitable you’ll need to tackle some last-minute cleaning. But with a little planning, you’ll minimize stress and maximize fun. In our experience, we find it’s best to leave the bathroom and the kitchen for a last-minute clean. By all means, tackle the cupboards and fridge in advance, but leave simple tidy-ups for the day of. This guarantees your guests will arrive at a spotless oasis. In fact, when we host dinner parties we go so far as to run an eCloth Floor Cleaner across the kitchen 30-minutes before guests are meant to arrive.

4. The atmosphere

Unlike baby showers, themed parties or movies nights, the timeless dinner party doesn’t require games or activities. Savouring (read: devouring) your pain-stakingly prepared feast is the activity. That said, you’ll still want to put a little thought into the evening’s atmosphere. Notably the music.

Are you trying to conjure the essence of dining al fresco along the Seine? Perhaps a playlist of Edith Piaf and other world-music is appropriate. A more casual affair might call for some light jazz. Alternatively, create a shared Spotify and encourage your guests to contribute to the evening’s playlist—in our opinion, this is an excellent way to involve guests.

5. The grocery shopping

After you’ve written your menu and meticulously transfigured the sumptuous dishes into a practical shopping list, we highly recommend assessing your fridge, cupboards, spice racks and cold-rooms. Countless times we’ve gotten home from the grocery store, only to realize we didn’t have enough salt, flour, olive oil or [insert myriad kitchen staples here] and needed to run out again. Learn from our mistakes: check your cupboard before hitting the stores.

6. The dinner prep

The Barefoot Contessa said it. Martha said it. Your grandmother probably said it. And we’re going to say it again. Bake, broil and saute as much of your magnificent meal as you can in advance. In our experience, nothing is more stressful than a parade of guests trampling into your home while you’re cooking. Even a seasoned host can’t butterfly a stuffed chicken breast while greeting guests, pouring wine and hanging jackets. And when it comes to heated appetizers, aim for simple nibbles like premade samosas or sausage rolls that you can put in an air-fryer and walk away from.

7. The delegating

Circling back to those youngsters and hubbies once more, we highly recommend starting to envision them as soldiers rather than civilians. Take charge of your squadron and assign specific, clear tasks to every capable mop-wielding, bathroom-scouring operative in your household. Even if delegating requires a little extra, um, diplomacy, it’ll save you time and energy that is best served elsewhere.

8. The plan of action

When the Merlot starts flowing, it’s only a matter of time until someone spills their drink. A great hosting tip is to prepare for these hiccups in advance. Keep a pack of e-Cloths on hand for simple counter spills. And make sure that aforementioned Floor Cleaner is within arms reach for spills on your hardwood or tiled floors. Finally, should said Merlot touch your carpet, you’ll be thankful to have a bottle of Kirby Spot Remover waiting in the wings.

9. The part where you just have fun!

Listen. We’ve been there. We’ve burnt the carrots. We didn’t finish the cleaning. Heck, we bought the “Happy 30th” napkins on our husband’s 40th. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. We understand hosting a dinner party can be stressful. But when the doorbell chimes, it’s time to be the ruthless ball of sunshine everyone adores. Besides, if you’re friends are anything like ours, those napkins will end up being the highlight of the evening. Sorry not sorry, sous-vide sea bass.

10. The post-party clean

Our final tip for hosting a dinner party? When the wine’s been drunk, the food’s been nom-ed, and the guests have gone, leave the dirty pots and pans where they are. You’ve earned a good night’s sleep. Besides, your Simplicity S65 will still be there tomorrow! No seriously folks, this vacuum is EV???? ER????Y????THING????!

Hosting an upcoming dinner party?

Check out our wide range of vacuums, cleaning supplies and small appliances to help make your dinner party the event of the year.