At first glance, having friends over for dinner is something you don’t think twice about. Throw together some pasta, find some mediocre wine you’d barely cook with, and presto! Dinner party. But not so fast. You can do so much better than that, and with not much more effort. The extra time and care you put into your dinner parties will make them so much more pleasant and memorable, to the point that you’ll be having them on a regular basis. There are some really easy steps you can take to make your environment pleasant and your party a success.
First of all, before you even think about cooking, think about what your home looks like at this exact moment. Chances are that it’s looking decent, but not like the housecleaner just left ten minutes ago. That’s exactly how you want your home to look when your friends are visiting. Too clean and it will feel cold and hostile, and too dirty and it’s just revolting and your friends will never visit you again. There’s a fine line. But a good unit of measure is the coffee table. Can you still see about half of it under your books, important papers and computer chargers? Good. If it’s completely covered, your guests will have nowhere to put their beverages, but if it’s too empty they will be scared to put something on there at all and will again be stuck holding paper cups. Unless that is, you follow this next piece of advice.
No dinner party is truly successful if you use disposable crockery and flatware. Not only are these items extremely wasteful over time, but they are very unpleasant to use. Most compostable cups absorb liquid when drinks have sat in them for too long, and paper plates just soak up sauces and juices until the chicken you worked so hard to roast ends up bone dry. Instead, invest in some extra plates, glasses and cutlery that you can break out at dinner parties. They don’t have to be top quality, but they should at least perform their duties without breaking halfway into a meal. And any real friends you have will appreciate the gesture and help you wash the extra dishes.
Another key issue is with quality and availability of drinks you offer. Everyone will notice if you break out the lousy quality booze and generic brand juices. Unless you’re really strapped for cash at the moment, respect your guests enough to spend the extra dollar on a good bottle of orange juice and drinkable wine. Your drinks are after all a critical part of the meal and should not be neglected. This is especially important to wine because it completely changes the way that your food eats.
Speaking of food, this is where it gets critical. You may be tempted to break out all the stops and make fancy items you’ve never done or even tasted before, but this is a huge mistake. You will be struggling and stressing in the kitchen when you should be enjoying yourself and the company of your friends. Instead, stick to dishes you’ve made before and have been given your family’s seal of approval. Venturing out into the culinary unknown, unless you’re exceptionally skilled, is not a good idea.
Sometimes, conversation can turn incredibly awkward at dinner parties. Somebody will say something offensive, or there will be an overly lengthy silence. The best way to diffuse either situation is to bring attention to a friend’s recent accomplishment. It will make them feel good about themselves to share the story and will bring positive energy into the room.