Hosting a dinner (big or small) can be a daunting task, especially if you’re going to cook.
Last week I decided to host a small dinner / girls night at my house, with 4 total people to be exact. I did not have the help of my husband, so I learned a few things along the way to make it easier. If you’ve seen the recipes on my blog, you know I love to make stuff that I can start beforehand and that makes several servings. I decided to make one of my favorite dishes, Shrimp and Pea Risotto, which also happens to be quite easy to make too. I am a fan of one-pot-meals, all your food groups represented in one dish…DONE. One thing to remember with a small group 4-6 people, is that it should be more intimate and personal, so there is no need to be too formal or stuffy.
1. Let Your Guests Bring Something
All my friends asked what they could bring. I’ve been to dinner parties where the host says they don’t need anything, but I like to feel involved in the preparation of the party instead of just being a participant. My friends are the same way. It also means you don’t need to get a gift for the host.
Some people could be worried about what people would make, if they would like what the other person makes, etc, like a person asked to bring wine might bring something cheap and bad. A way to get around this is to tell your guests exactly what to bring. For example, I have a gluten allergy so I might suggest that someone bring a gluten-free dessert like macarons or GF brownies from Whole Foods or GF cupcakes from Sprinkles. I know they should be available and I know they’re good.
2. Make Sure You Have Drinks and Appetizers Available as Guest Arrive
The fun thing about a small dinner party is that it can be very informal and intimate, meaning that it’s completely acceptable for your guests to hang out with you in the kitchen while you do the final preparations. Make sure to have easy to pour drinks: water, wine, beer, etc and nibbles on hand for your guests to grab while you work. One tip is to make sure to set it up somewhere so guest won’t be in your way.
3. Never Let Them See You Sweat
Remember you decided to have this party to socialize and have fun. Don’t stress about every little detail. If you forgot to get flowers, don’t worry about it, your guests won’t notice. Another reason to stop stressing is that your guests will feel the stress and tension in the air. You’ll start noticing that people want to leave early rather than linger and hang out.
4. Welcome Help
Let your guests help you because it makes them feel more involved. When they are more involved they are more a part of the experience of the party therefore they will leave the party being happier. This is especially true if you think of holiday parties with family, friends or coworkers. Helping out, helping to set up adds to the sense of community, belonging and family, if you take that away from people they are less likely to enjoy the experience.
5. Set the Scene
I love hosting and I have lots of hosting accoutrements, so I love to bring out the cheese platters, special serving bowls, etc, for parties. Part of setting the scene is to have your space look the part, light candles, buy flowers, set the table. Please, please don’t use paper (except for a napkin) or plastic anything for a small group, it cheapens the look and guest experience.