Dinner Party Rules

Rule #1 for hosting a dinner party: Start with an empty dishwasher.

Rule #2: Make plenty of ice ahead of time.

What are some of your “rules” for hosting a dinner party?

We’re having six people over tonight, which is what got me thinking about the subject.

Rule 3—remove anything you’d prefer not be found in your medicine cabinet. Some dinner guests will snoop when they go the the bathroom.

Rule 4–secure children and pets somewhere safe, where they won’t disrupt the party.

  1. Don’t overestimate what you can do at the last minute. If you’re like me, I decide what I can do at the last minute, then cut it in half, which is more like what I can actually do.

Rule 5: Select CDs ahead of time, for appropriate party music.
Rule 6: Have summit meeting with husband, ensuring that he knows his responsibilities (keep people from standing behind me in the kitchen, assuring them I really mean it when I say I don’t want them to load the dishwasher for me) and that I know mine (remind him of who knows whom and who doesn’t)
Rule 7: Coasters. Plenty of coasters.
Rule 8: Napkins. Plenty of napkins.

Rule 9: Alcohol. Plenty of alcohol.

  1. Let people help if they offer. You don’t get bonus points for doing every single thing yourself. In fact, have in mind a couple of tasks that would be easily delegated (making the salad, pouring water, etc.).

Great point, twickster.

Have as much food prep done in advance as possible, so you can spend the max time possible with your guests.

Rule 10: Pie. Plenty of Pie.

Rule 11: Be prepared so that twenty minutes before the first guest arrives, you’re done with prep. At this point, unless you’re teetotalriffic, stop and have a glass of wine. (This is my wife’s aunt’s rule, and it’s served us very well).

I am teetotalriffic, and I still have myself a glass of whatever non-alcoholic beverage I’m serving, at this point.

Rule 12: Know about any dietary considerations (Kosher, vegetarian, etc.) your guests have in advance, and either plan to accommodate them, or don’t invite them in the first place. Otherwise you end up with someone just picking at a salad and insisting “No, no, everything’s fine, don’t bother about me”.

Rule 13:

Don’t let anyone “help” put away the dishes once they’ve been washed. You will otherwise go for two months before finding all of your coffee cups.

Rule 14:

Acknowlege that everyone is going to wind up congregating in the kitchen. Plan for it, accommodate it; don’t fight it.

  1. When the food is ready and everyone has their plate, it’s time to sit down and eat, so sit the hell down and eat. Don’t spend fifteen minutes futzing around in the kitchen doing God knows what while everyone else either waits on you while their food gets cold, or starts eating without you.

Maybe it’s just in my family, but they all do this — whoever is hosting the affair will invariably take a good 10-15 minutes to sit down with everyone else — and it drives me nuts. Just eat already!

  1. Prepare as much in advance as you can so all you have to do is put food in the oven or on the table at the appropriate time.

  2. Relax and enjoy yourself. If something goes horribly wrong, there’s always takeout.

  3. If people are bringing their kids, move the breakables, but do not feel obligated to baby-proof your house. If your kids are not the same age or you don’t have any, let them know that they might want to bring a toy or two.

And I’ll second people milling around the kitchen. If that’s where you are, people will inevitably gather there.

  1. A dinner party is not the time to try our a bunch of new recipes. If you must try something new or something you found in a magazine keep it to just one element of the dinner, a sauce, desert,vegetable, meat, whatever. Just don’t stress yourself with an entire new dinner menu. Do what you know.