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Entertaining Dinner Tips & Tricks

Entertaining Dinner Tips & Tricks

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Do you like hosting friends and family but are nervous about cooking for a crowd? These entertaining dinner tips and tricks will turn you in to a professional host in no time.

Hosting for friends and family doesn’t have to be stressful! I’ve compiled some of my favorite tips and tricks for you that I use for entertaining groups of friends and family. I come from a huge family that was constantly entertaining, so over the years I’ve picked up tips that I’ve started to apply to my own parties.

Entertaining Dinner Tips & Tricks

Planning the gathering:

  • Make a list of who’s coming over. Does anyone have dietary restrictions? Is someone vegetarian? These are all things to think about when initially planning a menu.
  • Decide what kind of entertaining you want to do. Do you have space for everyone to sit down? Do you want a more casual or formal vibe?
    • If you’re going for informal, here are some ideas:
      • Grazing Table: everyone loves a big table of charcuterie with dried fruit, breads, and nuts. This is also a great way to accommodate dietary restrictions by making sure you have enough variety for everyone.
      • Potluck style: Make a ton of appetizers and serve small plate style.
    • If you’re looking for formal, are you cooking multiple courses?
      • If you are, be simple with your choices. Don’t worry about making a gourmet meal – focus on simple dishes with quality ingredients that shine. That’s Ina Garden’s golden rule of entertaining and I think she’s done pretty well!
      • My go to’s are an easy appetizer like Caprese salad or my Sausage Bruschetta. For a main dish, go with something easy and eye-catching like Tomato & Garlic Penne.

The day of:

  • Do your grocery shopping the day before or the morning of. Do not procrastinate!! You’ll definitely regret it.
  • Lay out all of your plates/dishes/platters ahead of time and label which food will go on it. I learned this trick from my mom, master of parties. She lays out all the trays the food will go on so when it’s go time, you’re not scrambling for a tray to put food on AND you’ve already defined where the food will go. This is also a great tip because if you have people helping you, you’ve already laid out where everything will go, which makes everything easier.
  • Cooking – prep what you can early in the day. This means cutting meat, fruit, veggies, cheese, etc. Having everything prepped takes so much stress out of cooking when guests are about to arrive.
    • You also want to have food ready shortly after people arrive. Nobody likes to show up and be hungry for two hours because the host hasn’t stared cooking yet. This is my biggest pet peeve. Be courteous to your guests! Allow some time for greeting and getting drinks, but you should have everything close to ready when they arrive so nobody is starving.
Entertaining Dinner Tips & Tricks

Asking for help:

  • If someone asks to bring something, say YES! This took me so long to do – I would feel bad if someone brought a drink or a side when I was supposed to be hosting. But if someone is offering, don’t be afraid to say yes!
  • Strategically ask people what to bring:
    • Don’t think that you’ll have time to make a dessert? Ask someone to bring one. Think you might be short on wine? Call your friend and ask them to pick up a bottle on their way over.
  • Ask for help the day of. My husband is an all-star at this. Over our first year of marriage and being the house our friends congregate at, Nick has been amazing at helping me prepare. He chops the onions so I don’t cry, he carries the platters up from the basement, and he helps clean up when everyone leaves. Ask a friend or significant other to help – if you’re having a couple drinks and listening to music, prepping and cleaning isn’t that bad after all.
Entertaining Dinner Tips & Tricks

Ultimately, entertaining can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Always remember that you’re spending quality time with friends and family – and food is just enabling it.

What are your favorite entertaining dinner tips and tricks? I would love to know what your tricks are in the comments!

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