Will there be a specific purpose or guest of honor?
What are the parameters of your budget?
How many people can you seat and serve?
Who are the key guests?
What is the best date and time to have the party?
At this point, determine whether the presence of a particular key guest or the date of the dinner party is your first priority.
For example, if you are hosting a birthday party, obviously the guest of honor will influence the date of the party. Conversely, if you are looking to have a gathering of friends next Saturday evening, the date of the party is more important than any single attendee.Dinner party invitations can be extended from 2 days to 2 weeks in advance. Be sure to allow enough time for planning and preparation in accordance with your experience and ability. To ensure that the most popular guests can attend, extend your invitations early. When choosing a date also consider:• Date of holiday, event, birthday, etc., if applicable• Preparation time needed• Day of the week• Holiday and event conflicts• Guest of honor availability• Other key invitees’ availabilityEven the best planned dinner parties require most of the preparation to be done the day before and the day of the event. In choosing a date and time, consider how much preparation time you will have available beforehand.During the week leading up to your dinner party you will be able to:• Map the party flow• Plan the menu• Decorate• Shop for non-perishables and supplies• Shop for liquor and wine• Select your music• Clean• Set up your barThe day before your party you will need to:• Shop for perishables• Prep food• Set the table• Arrange flowersThe day of the party you will need to:• Finish meal preparation• Get yourself ready• Buy ice & forgotten items• Cut food and drink garnishes• Last-minute straightening• Kitchen clean up• Mix a pitcher of specialty drinks• Set up garnishes & ice at the barSaturdays work well because you have the whole day to prepare and people are much more relaxed. Also, some of the day before tasks above can be done on the day of the party.
With practice, you will soon get a feel for how much time you need to host any kind of party; this is great experience for being able to throw an impromptu gathering for any number of guests.Grab a calendar and pick a primary and alternate date and check for any major holiday conflicts. Depending upon the friends you want to invite, you may also want to check for other possible conflicts, such as major sporting events, school vacations, gay events, out-of-town work conferences, or other parties. If you have a guest of honor, confirm that the primary and/or alternate date works for them. You may also wish to make sure any other key invitees are available on that day, such as a close friend and strategic guests that add life to a party.Dinner parties traditionally last 3 or more hours, beginning sometime between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM. If your party is on Saturday, 7:30 PM is a good start time. If the party is on a “school night” (Sunday-Thursday), you may want to start earlier to allow your guests time to get home to bed.
On the weekend, depending upon your crowd, you may want to plan dinner to end early enough for guests to attend after-dinner parties, especially during the holiday season.Allow about an hour for cocktails prior to serving dinner. Unless you or some of your guests are on a schedule, feel free to extend the cocktail hour as needed. The hungrier they are the better your food will taste.
Unless you have planned some additional surprises for the cocktail hour after the hors d'oeuvres, it is important to keep the party fresh with a change of scenery.Obviously, if you have planned for the group to go out afterwards or to another event, you will need to schedule your dinner accordingly.
Be sure to note after dinner plans, if any, and if they are optional on the invitation, For example, if you have rented a limousine to take the group to another party or are going out to a club following dinner.
Are there any plans before or after dinner?