You don’t have to be Julia Child to throw a dinner party; you just need the right tools. Having friends over for dinner is a great way to catch up, reduce stress, and feel like a real adult. Whether you’re new to hosting friends at home or just looking for some new tricks, these 6 strategies will make planning, prepping, and executing your next dinner party a breeze.

Make A Light Game Plan

Before you start gathering pots and pans, write a quick and light game plan to keep your dinner party on track. If you’re serving food family style, you can place serving spoons and forks at the table. You can also pre-portion food, wrap it up, and put it on the table. This way, you’ll avoid stress, and guests won’t have to wait for food to be served. There’s no need to micromanage the evening, but a light game plan will help you steer clear of the “no one really knows what’s going on” feeling that often accompanies dinner parties.

Plan Your Food In Advance

Planning any party is hard work. But planning your menu in advance is a great way to streamline your dinner party process. When you’re prepping, you don’t have time to stand around and think, “Okay, what should I make next?” Instead, make a quick menu list to help you stay organized. Some apps can do this for you, or you can write it down on a whiteboard, scrap piece of paper, or even just in your phone notes. Plus, it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re prepping. By planning ahead, you can prevent this from happening.

Don’t Neglect The Music

Everyone has that friend who blasts music so loudly that you can’t hear yourself think. If you’re hosting, try to avoid this because it’s rude. Instead, opt for some low-key music in the background. If you don’t want to choose the music, you could always ask your guest for suggestions. Whether listening to music on the radio, on your phone, or from a playlist, try to keep it at a low volume. You don’t want to disrupt your guests’ conversations or make it difficult for them to hear one another.

Use Disposable Dishware

If you’re hosting a dinner party and need to feed a lot of people, you may want to consider using disposable dishes. They’re great for the environment and cost-effective. You can also get creative with these dishes by finding ones that match your decor. Not only will they help you save time and energy by avoiding washing dishes, but they’ll also add a little something to your table decor. 

Host A Pre-Party Happy Hour

Whether you’re planning an impromptu dinner party or a special occasion, having a pre-party happy hour is a good idea. This allows you to mix with your guests, gauge their alcohol preferences, and get a general sense of people’s personalities. If you have house rules, like having a no-drinking policy, state them at the beginning of the evening, so your guests know where you stand. If you’re hosting a pre-party happy hour, make sure to have food available, as well. Check out this cocktail in a can for a pre-party happy hour with some class. 

Don’t Stress Over The Small Stuff

Even if you achieve everything on this list and beyond, don’t stress over the small stuff. The best hostesses make mistakes. If you forget to change the paper towel roll or burn the croutons, don’t fret. In fact, when you’re hosting a dinner party, it’s good to forget a few things because it makes you look more human. Hosting a dinner party can seem like a daunting task. The trick is to approach it confidently by taking a few of these simple strategies into account.