I’m sharing my best tips for hosting an amazing dinner party + some of my favorite cooking tricks.
Hello hello! How’s the morning going? I’m going to mass with the kids and then I’ll go to an F45 class. I hope you have a great day too.
For today’s post, I thought we’d talk a little about dinner party tips and cooking tricks. Please note that I am NOT a professional (although we have some people in my family who are professional cooks and others who cook like they are professionals). I’m just a home cook who enjoys it and I also LOVE feeding people. When the Pilot and I first got married, a friend told me that he needed a sign in the kitchen that said, “Never go hungry” because that seemed to be my motto. I get so much joy from enjoying amazing meals and good times with the people we love. That’s why we love to invite friends and family whenever we can.
Over time, I’ve learned some great dinner tips and cooking tricks, so I wanted to share them with you this morning.
15 tips for organizing a dinner
Do everything you can in advance
I learned this from my grandmother, who prepares and freezes as many meal components as possible before a family gathering. She used to own a catering company, so she’s pretty used to preparing large quantities of amazing food.
Whatever you can do before a party, do it. This means things like sauces, desserts, garnishes, anything. I usually try to prepare as much as I can so I don’t cook when people come over.
I learned this the hard way. We had friends over the first time we lived in Valdosta and I hadn’t prepared anything. When our guests arrived, everyone ended up sitting at the table while I ran around the kitchen, stressed and sweating from the hot stove and burners. Learn from my mistake, friends.
Never try a new recipe the night of a dinner party.
It may be tempting to want to try an interesting new recipe you see on social media or a website, but always try it before serving it to another group of people. I had a few Pinterest fails that I thought would be good ideas and I’m so glad I took the time to try them out ahead of time. Serve options that you can cook easily and know are a hit.
Set the menu strategically
Check your guest list to see if there are any dietary restrictions. Plan the menu in advance based on the occasion and theme of the dinner, as well as the number of guests who will be attending. For example, a smaller dinner party would work well with plated options, while larger parties are better for family-style platters or a buffet.
Place sticky notes on serving plates and leave everything ready the night before.
I clean the kitchen the night before or the morning of the gathering and set out all the pretty sets of plates, cutlery, and serving platters. I put a sticky note (“salsa,” “fries,” “guacamole,” etc.) on each large plate so I know where everything goes. Set the table ahead of time too.
Empty the dishwasher before everyone comes.
This way, it’s easy to add dishes to the dishwasher as they get dirty and let it run at the end of the night.
Serve a signature drink or cocktail
I like to always have a special type of drink in addition to the usual La Croix, waters, beers and an assortment of bottles of wine. It can be something like sangria, house margaritas or these types of cocktails. Make a big batch and store it in the refrigerator and also make sure you have enough drinks on hand for everyone.
Meat thermometers are a GAME CHANGER and help avoid dry and overcooked meat. It is much easier to prick the meat and know that it is already cooked.
Try the guacamole chip
When you’re making guacamole, you’ll serve it with chips, so don’t forget to try it on a chip. Otherwise, the guacamole may be too salty.
If you like Mexican food, get a tortilla warmer ASAP.
You will never eat cold tortillas with delicious warm Mexican food again. You put the tortillas in the warmer.Pop it in the microwave and the warmer will keep them warm while you serve them.
Set the mood
I like to light some candles before everyone comes over, turn on the bright lights outside, and play music. I’ll put on some music on Spotify on the TV and Bluetooth speaker outside. This way the atmosphere is already set for my guests to relax and enjoy!
Write a kitchen schedule.
This way you won’t be thinking about it all night and you can enjoy the party. I like to plan a schedule for the day before, including what items will be prepared each time and little reminders, like “take out the trash,” “put ice in drinks,” and “play the music.”
Use the oven!
Bake or roast part of the food, so you can put everything you prepared in advance directly in the oven. Once cooked, turn the oven down and keep warm before serving.
Don’t do everything yourself
I LOVE this tip and it’s a really easy way to take some of the stress out of doing all the things. There’s nothing wrong with buying some items at the store if you can’t make them yourself or don’t have the time. Find a couple of options you can outsource to a local spot, like sides, desserts, or a charcuterie board.
Always cut a piece of cake.
Guests won’t want to cut something, but they will eat it if it’s already cut. The same goes for cheeses on a cheese board, so cut a few slices ahead of time.
If you know how to read, you can cook.
These were wise words from my grandmother, after I emailed her to tell her I was struggling in the kitchen. When we first got married, I had to learn how to cook and there were many fiascoes along the way. (I once made a meatloaf that turned into sloppy sandwiches, which we called “sloppy bread.” Delicious.)
He said to take my time and if you can read the instructions, you will be able to cook. She gave me confidence to move forward and I eventually fell in love with cooking.
Essential elements for a dinner:
Host your next dinner party like a boss with these helpful tips!
So, friends, tell me: what are some of your best tips for cooking or dining?
If you have any you can add to the list, please chime in in the comments section so we can help each other. (* = those that were sent from instagram! Thanks to those of you who chimed in) What do you usually cook when you have friends or family over? Do you do the same or change it?