Hosting a dinner party can be challenging, especially if it’s not something you do often. Our cooking expert Anna Carl has some great advice on how to make your next dinner party a success!



The first thing you need to do is select your menu. The best way to select your menu is by first thinking about the theme or context of your event. Is it going to be casual or formal? Is it a holiday get together?

Once you’ve figured out your theme, decide on a main course. This will be the centerpiece of your meal and from here you can build complementary side dishes to complete your menu.

Keep your menu simple and focused. Avoid dishes that require a lot of attention that will take you away from your guests.

Once you have your menu, it’s time to make a timeline. Start with making a list of things that can be done weeks in advance, days in advance and things that need to be done only hours ahead:


Weeks ahead: Guest list, invitations, place cards, and menu.

Week of: Shop for non-perishables, clean house, prepare dishes to be frozen.

Days ahead: Assemble baked dishes, sauces, marinades and desserts.

Day of: Set table early, prepare perishable foods, chill beverages.

Hours before: Coordinate baking schedule, set music, ambiance and candles.


If you are short on time, consider outsourcing some of your efforts. Let your local deli or bakery help out by providing a few items that can add to your meal without sacrificing quality or time.

Once your guests start to arrive, if they offer help let them! It will give you more time to spend together and your guests will enjoy lending a helping hand.

Finally, the most important thing to keep in mind is that this is just a party. Try not to stress and have a great time!