The key to hosting a seamless dinner experience is knowing your guests. Curating the perfect space and entertainment can be the fun part, but when it comes down to what should be served — establishing the dinner menu for the night can take some time. Strategic menu planning takes into consideration what will appeal to the taste buds of others, how much to prepare, and shopping expenses for the ingredients.
Create a budget
Once you know how many guests will be attending. Confirm if they have any major food allergies or dislikes. The last thing you want to happen at a dinner is to run out of food, or serve a meal no one enjoys.
Have charcuterie boards and appetizers ready!
If guests are arriving while the main course is in the oven, a beautiful presentation of light finger foods makes for a great impression to keep them occupied. Display inviting appetizers like sushi, veggie and meat rolls, chips with dips, and other bite-size treats. Try a charcuterie board for intimate and engaging occasions. The best charcuterie platters are not only arranged attractively to present cured meats, soft and hard cheeses, breads, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables — they are also spread conveniently so one can add foods to their plates with ease. This is an exceptional way for guests to create their own snack while showing off your taste in foods and detail.
The main course should match the party’s mood.
Steak, pot roast, lamb chops, pasta, or seafood can be dressed as casual or gourmet dinner meals with the right side(s). Go for flavorful and energizing dishes like stir fry, garlic butter salmon, or spice rubbed roast chicken paired with simple sides if other activities are planned after eating. If heavy appetizers were served earlier, explore an entree that incorporates more vegetables with light meat options. For guests with adventurous palates, introduce a notable dish from another food culture or a new recipe you’ve perfected.
Complete dinner with a fine wine.
Wine enhances the flavors in a meal and can make conversations a livelier experience. Sipping a glass of wine while discussing pop culture or playing board games can be a great subtle icebreaker. Pair a red wine with a hearty meal, or bring out a sweet wine to accentuate the taste of dessert. If you’re not confident in your wine picks, see if your guests wouldn’t mind bringing a bottle over.
Good food, great conversation, and flowing drinks are staples to hosting a successful get-together. Keep this mini guide in mind the next time you invite guests over. Dinner planning can be stressful, but it is so rewarding to see those you care about full and impressed by your culinary and hosting skills.