Dinner Party 101

Fernie might be a six-letter word for casual, because since I’ve moved here, I don’t think I’ve worn high-heels to a single function. Hey, I’m not complaining! But with that in mind, sometimes taking a little more forward approach to a dinner party can be a fun occasion. 

Entertaining friends at your home can be a walk in the park or a completely nerve-wracking affair. Perhaps it’s all your closest friends, but it could also be your partner’s boss coming over for hors d’oeuvres. While you’re busy googling “easy hors d’oeuvres,” I thought I’d spell out a few fairly obvious but sometimes overlooked tips for hosting a dinner party that makes everyone (including you) feel relaxed. 

Set the time. If you want to go casual, give folks a window by which to arrive. If you want to have a seated meal, let folks know to be over by a certain time and then share what time dinner will be served. 

Decide what’s on the menu. Asking someone to bring over ‘something to grill and a side to share’ is essentially asking them to bring their own dinner over. We all know groceries are super expensive these days, so make a decision about your budget and decide what you can provide. Maybe it’s just a cocktail party and not the full dinner experience—whatever you decide, it’s helpful to let your guests know what they are in store for food-wise. 

If you decide to go potluck style, make a list of who you want to invite, and ask them to bring something specific so that you A, don’t end up with three bowls of pasta salad and B, not everyone has to break the bank to attend. This can be a fun chance for folks to test their own cooking skills and cook something outside of their comfort zone. (Probably not the best approach with your partner’s boss, but who knows?) 

Be your own Captain Obvious. Put some glasses out on the counter so your guests don’t have to root around in your cupboards looking for a water or wine glass. Bonus points for a pitcher of water. Heck, while you’re at it, put some napkins right next to the water/glasses. Make room in your fridge (or a cooler) for drinks people might bring over. 

Another Captain Obvious. Pull your trash can out or let folks know where the trash is! Yes, I put the hors d’oeuvres toothpicks in my pocket! I didn’t know what else to do with them! 

Offer some activities. This might feel overboard, but when you’re making your invite list… consider something to bring the event together. If you’ve got friends who might not know one another, consider organizing some kind of game. It could be as silly as two truths and a lie (let folks think about this one ahead of time) or as obvious as a discussion item, Old Side versus New Side!