14 New Rules for a Dinner Party 2023

We haven’t hosted a dinner party in a long time, and we want to try something new. As it turns out, the break from hosting has provided us with a fresh viewpoint. For example, Life is too short to spend all of your time in the kitchen! And our visitors want to contribute, so let them. And much, much more.

So these are our new ground rules: the things we’re experimenting with, abandoning, and adopting for the first time. We hope they make you feel more empowered, motivated, or at least a bit less stressed. Dinner parties are intended to be fun, not stressful. In the end, that’s the only rule that matters. You don’t even need an event stylist to help you with this. 

If you’re planning to throw a dinner party, then you better read this post first! 

RULE #1: Never, ever apologise.

No matter how far behind schedule dinner becomes, no matter if you burn the entire meal and end up ordering takeout instead, no matter if your house is messy, you forgot to get extra toilet paper, or the cat keeps running on the table: Do not worry. I guarantee that your guests will be delighted to be invited to your home for dinner, regardless of whether it satisfies your own personal standards. Laugh about it.

RULE #2: Don’t stress about the clutter.

Tidy your apartment and perhaps light a few candles. Yet, it is acceptable to leave out the pet toys, coffee mugs, mail, and other clutter that any apartment accumulates. Your pals will be able to tell that you reside here.

RULE #3: Get out of the kitchen!

I used to offer coursed dinners to friends, doing mains like risotto that need you to be in the kitchen at the same time your guests are loosening up with wine and cheese and things start to get interesting. You shouldn’t be cooking anything after your visitors arrive unless you’re offering pasta.

RULE #4: Skip the main course. 

If you’re nervous about hosting after a year or so, a dessert party (or snack party) may be a more manageable task. It’s also easier on you because it requires far less preparation and cleanup. Remember it’s a dinner party after all!

RULE #5: Use the “clean as you go” principle.

Request that everyone cleans up once between dinner and dessert, or before your guests leave. They won’t mind, and you won’t have to deal with the dreaded leaning tower of dirties. Set tasks so that each person is only completing a small amount of work!

RULE #6: Make your own DIY bar.

Let guests put together their own tacos, chaat, or hand rolls with premade fillings. It relieves you of the burden of serving people, allows for a range of dietary constraints, allows everyone to interact and eat at their own leisure, and makes the event more memorable.

RULE #7: Prepare the potato chips.

Nobody will ever be upset if they see a potato chip. Placing them in a beautiful bowl already dresses them up. But, you may also top it with lemon zest and mild chile flakes. Instead, season with freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of finely chopped dill.

RULE #8: Prepare two large platters for dinner.

My favourite technique to feed a large group is to prepare just two large-format recipes. Serving supper family style allows everyone to choose what goes on their plates, and the sharing of platters back and forth fosters a bond.

Spring chicken with salad; deep-dish quiche with leeks; sheet-pan meatballs with roasted squash; and spicy tomatoey cod with broccolini are a few examples.

RULE #9: Dessert should be served. 

A dinner party doesn’t mean you have to create a dessert; simply pass something sweet around to enjoy. Grab any chocolate in your pantry and break it up into bits to spread on a platter. Drizzle with your best olive oil and sprinkle with flaky salt on top. Alternatively, spoon whipped cream over bowls of fresh berries or sliced fruit.

RULE #10: Serve only one type of cheese.

A cheese board becomes twisted so quickly when there is a crowd. The blue cheese knife is dipped in the triple cream, or the Manchego is devoured. Instead, choose a single large slice of cheese and stick to it. You may include a dish of crackers, some fruit (sliced apples, pears, figs, grapes, dried figs, or apricots), and something salty and briny (olives or pickles).

RULE #11: Give interactive questions on the table. 

It’s an excellent icebreaker for guests who don’t know one other, and it can help to focus a conversation among old friends or relatives. Here are a few examples of questions I’ve used: What is your most humiliating travel story? What was your favourite Halloween outfit? Describe your first kiss. What would your superpower be if you could have it? 

RULE #12: Organize a “come as you are” party.

You could try holding a party where everyone was required to arrive dressed in whatever they were wearing when they received the invitation. Send out invitations at odd hours of the night and see what your pals wear.

RULE #13: Let friends help you.

Say yes if someone offers to clean the dishes! Simply leave the wine glasses and serving platters till the morning and enjoy the rest of the night dancing or talking. I adore waking up to clues that a party took place in my house the night before: empty glasses and bottles reflecting sunlight across the table, stains on the tablecloth, and napkins were strewn about. Something wonderful has occurred here!

RULE #14: Simply plan ahead of time.

That is my one piece of advice based on my experiences hosting dinner parties and arranging pop-up events. Create a list of the ingredients, tools, and tabletop necessities. Figure out how you’ll use your oven, stovetop, and refrigerator.