Everyone loves a good dinner party. Everyone except the person hosting it that is. And now it’s your turn.. Stress kicking in? Don’t worry, there’s no need to panic. Just forget about the ones you’ve been to that ended in disaster. Don’t think about the time Sally dropped the casserole on her dog, or when Brian got so drunk he started to twerk to Lizzo whilst his turkey caught fire in the oven. Yours is going to go off without a hitch, and here’s how to do it:
Practise making your menu! A few days before hosting the main event, make each dish you’re going to serve in the same order you’re going to do it on the day, even if you’re familiar with each individual dish. Then make mental notes of ways in which you can be more efficient. Where possible cook things beforehand (like the sauce) and freeze it, then just reheat on the day to save time. Take notice of downtime where you could utilise the fact the stove isn’t being used so you can get a headstart on the vegetables for the next meal, for example.
Or take advantage of periods of downtime to address your guests and keep track of proceedings (who needs a refill, who needs directions to the toilet, etc). Try to pace things out in a way so you can entertain guests at regular intervals so they don’t forget who the amazing cook running the show is. And if you do fall behind schedule don’t worry, just give your guests more wine so they don’t realise you haven’t served them yet… just keep an eye on Brian.
Cook things that look impressive, and taste great, without over-complicating things and risking something more ambitious. (Of course, if you are an adept cook, then by all means do show off!)
Take the staple chicken for example. You could make it flattened and butterflied for a little pizzaz. As tempting as it is to flatten that fillet by punching some of your frustrations out into it, buy a flattener and pound it down that way – you can get it very thin without losing its tenderness. Put it in flour, egg and breadcrumbs, then fry in a pan until golden-brown, before finishing in the oven. Looks good, tastes great, and cooks quick enough to mean you’ll soon be back at the table to deliver yet another cracking anecdote to the merry mirth of all seated there.
Music! Always keep a steady flow of background music going so the conversation at the table won’t judder with awkward silences. Keep it something casual and popular. Maybe keep the cables hidden in a cabinet as well, so Brian can’t plug his phone in to hit you with his favourite underground mumble-rappers.
Lastly.. Relax! If people see the host is enjoying themself they tend to loosen up. It’s all about the experience of the night as a whole. Not every last pea has to be done to perfection. So even if something goes wrong you have to repress that urge to throw the main course in the bin, start crying, and telling everyone to get out and that you never really liked them anyway. Have fun! That’s what you’re all there for.