Ah, the good old-fashioned dinner party – the perfect balance between great food, drinks, and great conversation between old friends. But how do you achieve a seamless and stress-free evening which maintains your status as the hostess with the mostess? Here’s everything you need to know.

Creating the Right Atmosphere

Getting the vibes right is one of the most important parts of any dinner party, and it can be the difference between a casual dinner with friends or everyone remembering your get-together as a memorable event!

Choose a Dinner Party Theme

Having a dedicated dinner party theme can ease all elements of planning. Your chosen theme can help you when picking your decor, your menu, drinks, and any party games you might want to play. Here are some of our favorites (with Pinterest boards to match!):

Set the Ambiance

Mood lightning is key, especially if you’re having your friends over in the evening. Utilise candles in the middle of your dining-room table, and turn on any smaller lamps that are dotted around your room. If you have any fairy lights on hand, make DIY table displays by putting them into cute jars or any unusual (and empty!) wine bottles that you have.

Create Fresh Floral Arrangements

Is there anything better than fresh flowers? We don’t think so! Consider visiting your local florist for an arrangement, or if you have the time, go foraging in your surrounding areas for seasonal flowers and foliage. Simply pop these in a vase or jug and trim to size. If you have small vases on hand, create lots of arrangements and dot them along the centre of your table. If you’d like to learn how to arrange flowers that you have forraged yourself, read this guide from Team Flower.

Get Your Playlist Ready

Get your speakers connected and create a playlist that will help set the tone for your dinner party. Consider using a preset playlist if you don’t have time to make one from scratch. If you have an Apple or Google Home Pod, simply ask for a ‘dinner party playlist’ and it will usually play lovely instrumental music which helps to create a relaxing atmosphere.

Set The Table

Since the table will be the area getting the most use during your dinner party, ensure that you decorate it with your chosen theme in mind. Consider using:

  • Themed plates and crockery
  • Napkins in your colour schema
  • Candles & tealights
  • Bud vases, herb bundles or seasonal foliage
  • Fresh fruit & veg (consider baby pumpkins around October time, or fresh oranges and lemons in the summer!)

If you’re feeling totally extra, create cute themed menus outlining the plan of the evening using Canva. Trust us, your friends will love this. To save time on the night, we’d recommend setting your table the morning of or even the night before!

Curating Your Hosting Menu

The food is the most important part of this event, obviously, which is why you need to take extra care when planning your menu. Here are some of our top-tips for choosing your dinner party menu.

Always Have An Appetiser To Serve

To keep your guests occupied whilst you finish dinner (and to keep tummies from rumbling), we’d always recommend serving an appetiser. Appetisers should be bite-sized, so your guests can enjoy them with a drink in hand! This could be as simple as marinated olives, bruschetta, or classic smoked salmon blinis. 

Here are some of our favourite appetiser recipes:

Consider Serving Family-Style 

Serving your dishes family-style is one of our top-tips for a fuss-free dinner party. Each guest can pick and choose what they’d like to eat, and it takes the stress out of giving everyone the right portion size.

With this in mind, consider which dishes would work best for placing in the middle of your table. When we’re hosting, this usually consists of large seasonal salad platters, tray bakes (which can be prepared wayyy ahead of time), as well as simple side dishes. 

Choose Seasonal Ingredients

By considering the fruit and vegetables that are in season right now, not only are you being kinder to the environment, but it’s likely that your produce will also taste much better. They’ll also be cheaper!

If you’d like to find out more about the produce that is in season right now, read our Month-By-Month Seasonal Eating Guide.

Accommodate Dietary Restrictions

It’s important to consider dietary restrictions and allergies when planning your menu. Ask your guests in advance about any dietary requirements they may have, and plan alternative options accordingly. Whether it’s vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or other specific dietary needs, make sure every guest has something delicious to enjoy. Personalise the experience to show that you care about their well-being and preferences.

Minimise Prep & Cooking On the Night

Make-ahead recipes are your best friend when it comes to hosting a dinner party. Something that you can make the day before will save you time on the all-important evening, meaning you can maximise time socialising with friends (after all, you want to enjoy the party too!). If you can find a recipe that doesn’t need stirring or ingredients added every few minutes, then even better.

We’ve listed some of our favourite, easy-to-prep recipes below:





Offer a Variety Of Drinks

Wine is the go-to choice for many dinner parties, and it is generally a safe option when choosing your drinks menu. If you’re unsure which wine might pair well with your menu, consider reading our cheese and wine pairing guide. Expect guests to consume one drink every hour, give or take, so have plenty in! 

Not everyone likes wine, so ensure that you also have a range of beers, gins, etc on offer. You also mustn’t assume everyone will reach for an alcoholic beverage, so we’d recommend having a range of tasty virgin beverages on hand (that aren’t just fruit juice where possible!).

For those of you who truly want to impress, garnish your drinks with fresh fruit (such as citrus slices) and sprigs of garden herbs.

On The Night

We’ve put together a few simple tips to help your evening run smoothly:

Clean As You Go

Cleaning as you go is easier said than done after a few glasses of wine, but trust us, you’ll thank yourself in the morning. Clean up after dinner prep, and load the dishwasher if you have time. Don’t be afraid to leave some dishes soaking overnight, but try not to leave them stacked high for everyone to see. 

Plan Party Games

It might sound silly, but having a few activities planned can take the pressure off you to encourage all of the conversation. Plan one or two games that can be played at the dinner table, such as a simple quiz, Pictionary, or a murder mystery game. House & Garden have put together a comprehensive list of dinner party games if you’re looking for a list of ideas.

Don’t Forget the Finishing Touches

As the evening winds down, conclude the party on a high note with thoughtful gestures. Offer guests parting gifts, such as small tokens of appreciation or little goodie bags to take home. It could even be as simple as a jar of homemade chutney or a freshly baked cupcake! Read this blog for ideas: 12 Gifts That Aren’t a Bottle Of Wine

Have Fun!

Yes, you might want everything to go without a hiccup but that isn’t likely to happen. We promise you that your friends won’t mind (or even notice) if your crumble is a little crispy, or if your puff pastry isn’t as golden as the time before. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself – don’t lock yourself in the kitchen and don’t hesitate to enjoy a glass of wine or two!

Hosting Essentials From Savery Grazing

If you’re looking for easy, simple and seasonal recipes for your next dinner party – look no further than Savery Grazing! We have an abundance of blogs on our website for you to use, and you can also find an abundance of hosting tips and tricks on Facebook and Instagram.

If you’re in the Sheffield area, we also offer a range of delicious grazing boards & canapes, each available for delivery straight to your door. Get in touch with our team to place your order.

Happy hosting!

Jasmine Savery
Founder & Director

Hi! I'm Jasmine, and I launched Savery Grazing in 2022. I’ve always had a passion for food, with a particular love for how social it can be. Follow along as I share my favourite tips, tricks, and delicious recipes with you.

Hi! I'm Jasmine, and I launched Savery Grazing in 2022. I’ve always had a passion for food, with a particular love for how social it can be. Follow along as I share my favourite tips, tricks, and delicious recipes with you.