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The Ultimate Guide to Throwing a Dinner Party


Julia Child, a great American chef and author, once said, “Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.” 

If you agree with her, this comprehensive guide will help you plan a special and unforgettable night for your foodie friends that will be remembered for weeks (or even years). 

So, stay tuned as we dive in!

How to Throw a Dinner Party for Foodies

How to throw a dinner party
Source: Fauxels on Pexel

Make A Timeline

Let’s start with the basics. Creating a timeline before throwing a party is crucial for many good reasons. It will ensure the preparations are well-organized and on track, and that all of your friends can attend the party.

Here are some timeline tips to get you started:

Four Weeks Before

  • Select a suitable date, considering everyone’s availability.
  • Choose a venue. Are you going to host dinner indoors or outdoors? It’s essential to ensure that your space is enough to accommodate your guests. Eight square feet per person is a good rule of thumb for dinner. 
  • Curate a guest list according to the space and budget you have. Since you’re throwing a party for foodies, make sure to invite those who are passionate about food and love exploring different cuisines.

Two Weeks Before

  • Send out invitations to the guestlist you created, either by mail or digitally.
  • This is the time you can decide if you want to get the help of professionals with catering or if you want to cook by yourself.
  • Be sure to follow up on your guests to ensure that they received your invitation.

One Week Before

  • Finalize the menu and list the ingredients with their required quantities.
  • Order the necessary ingredients for cooking and tableware or decor items for the theme (if you have one). 
  • Create a detailed cooking schedule. 71% of Americans think hosting a party is stressful. And a cooking schedule can take much of this stress away. So analyze each dish and divide the cooking process into small and easy tasks. But don’t forget to leave some spare time for unexpected changes. 

One Day Before

  • Start with the tasks that must be done beforehand, such as marinating chicken, preparing sauces, and chopping vegetables. You can also prepare dessert first. 
  • Pick up beverages for your main course. Don’t forget to source ice for your mocktails.
  • Clean up your space and empty the trash and dishwasher. Arrange all the tables and chairs along with decor items like candles, cards, and glasses.

Consider Your Budget

Now that you know how to make a timeline, it’s time to do the budgeting. A survey conducted by OnePoll revealed that the average American spends around $196.77 per party. Here’s a breakdown of the expenses you can expect but this can vary widely depending on your menu:

  • Food: $70 (36%)
  • Drinks: $64 (32%)
  • Decoration: $56 (28%)
  • Other miscellaneous expenses: $10 (5%)

Pick A Theme

How to throw a dinner party

Another essential aspect of hosting a party is choosing a theme.

For a communal and interactive experience, consider a Crawfish boil party with a traditional Southern spread. 

To experience a vibrant taste of Mexican feast, opt for Taco Fiesta. It can be done easily in your backyard, where you can set up a DIY taco bar with unique, delicious fillings. 

And if you’re looking for a cozy gathering, go for a French picnic theme where you can serve picnic-style dinners such as baguettes or assorted cheeses. 

Of course, these are just three examples and you’ll find many more ideas online.

Select Starters

Based on the theme you’ve chosen for your party, you need to select some starters. For instance, if you’re opting for a French picnic theme, consider serving Niçoise salad, a Charcuterie board filled with cornichons, cured meats, mustards, and a variety of cheeses, delicious raspberry, and brie tartlet. 

On the flip side, if you’re hosting a Taco Fiesta theme, you can go with loaded black bean dips, avocado salsa, and bean & cheese taquitos. 

If you haven’t chosen any specific theme, you can serve an array of starters that showcase rich and unique flavors, such as:

  • Cured salmon with prawns
  • Cucumber prawn cocktail cups 
  • Bacon rings
  • Prawn and ginger dumplings

Plan A Main Course Menu

The main course is the show’s star. But it’s essential to select dishes that maintain a balance between dietary restrictions and mouth-watering flavors. Here are some ideas:

Main Course Ideas

  1. Pasta With Shrimp And Tomato Cream Sauce: This Italian dish is perfect for your foodie friends and will be well within your budget. 
  2. Ravioli Lasagna: This classic lasagna has cheese ravioli layered between marinara sauce and mozzarella—the hearty and satisfying choice for Italian lovers.
  3. Lemon Chicken: Looking for a fresh and flavorful dish? Try some juicy lemon chicken! The marinade has a tangy and citrusy flavor that adds a refreshing taste to the juicy chicken.
  4. Turkey Cheeseburger With Grilled Onion Rings: This tasty twist on a classic burger features juicy turkey patties, melted cheese, and crispy grilled onion rings. It’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your next cookout. 

Catering To Dietary Restrictions

The whole point of a dinner party is to bring everyone together. This is why it is essential to consider any dietary restrictions your guests might have. Whether it’s allergies, lifestyle choices, or preferences, you want to ensure that everyone feels included and can enjoy the food you serve. 

Here are some examples of common dietary restrictions and some ways to modify the dishes accordingly:

  • Gluten Intolerance: People with celiac disease can’t consume gluten, so you want to look for gluten-free ingredients. For instance, you can opt for gluten-free pasta and lasagna. You can also use gluten-free buns for burgers and serve a side of gluten-free quinoa with lemon chicken. 
  • Vegetarian: If you have vegetarians coming over, you’ll need to include vegetarian options in your menu. You can also modify non-vegetarian dishes. For example, you can swap out pasta shrimps for some yummy veggies like mushrooms or maybe zucchini. If you’re making Ravioli Lasagna, you can use spinach or ricotta fillings. And instead of making Turkey cheeseburgers, you can go for baked Tofu. Just make sure you have one of these best knives for vegetarian cooking.
  • Lactose Intolerance: People with lactose intolerance experience abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and vomiting if they consume dairy products. So you might want to choose cheese alternatives, such as a lettuce wrap for lasagna or burgers. You can also use non-dairy milk as an ingredient. 

Don’t Forget Dessert

How to throw a dinner party
Photo by Abby Chung: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sliced-cake-998238/

When you’re hosting a party for foodies, you want to end the night with a high-note sweet treat. Here are three super tasty dessert options to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth:

  • Maple Bacon-Wrapped Dates: These are a perfect mix of sweet and savory. Simply take some plump dates all wrapped with crunchy bacon, and then top them off with delicious sweet maple syrup. 
  • Crescent Rolls: These creamy crescent rolls are so flaky and buttery that they will practically melt in your mouth. Stuff them with your favorite fruits, chocolates, and syrup, and bake them until golden brown. 
  • Donut Grilled Cheese: Make your foodie pals go crazy with this sweet and creamy dessert. It’s similar to the grilled cheese sandwich, but instead of bread, you use a glazed donut.

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