• Alexandra Strick

Dinner Party Planning Timeline


Planning a great dinner party is a lot of fun, but it also requires a bit of planning. Below are some tips to best organize yourself so that you can pull off the most successful dinner party of all time.

One Month Before:

  • Create your guest list - Keep in mind the number of people you can realistically fit and cook for. Always expect that there will be last minute cancellations or unexpected plus ones, and so be prepared to accommodate accordingly the day of.

  • Set the date / time - As everyone has busy schedules, it is important to choose a date early on so that all invitees can put the dinner party on their calendars.

Two Weeks Before:

  • Decide on your menu - It is important to decide on your menu in advanced so that you can plan out your supermarket trips, and coordinate the menu with guests to make sure they don't have any dietary restrictions that you should be aware of.

  • Organize your dinnerware and decor- With life being busy enough as it is, you don't want to find out last minute that you don't have enough silverware to set out for your guests, or that you need a new serving bowl. By sorting through what you already have, and realizing what you need in advanced, you will have more time to buy everything you will need. This also goes for any tools you will need for cooking including knives, pans etc, as well as enough chairs to seat everyone.

One Week Before:

  • Confirm guests - Reach out to all invitees (even those who confirmed) and follow up to remind them of the date and confirm attendance.

  • Purchase all non-perishable food items- The closer you get to the date of the dinner party, the more stressed you will be about getting everything organized, so I recommend buying as much in advanced as possible. It also helps to write out all of the recipes you plan on making to make better shopping lists, as well as take this opportunity to sort out which ingredients you already have in your pantry.

Three Days Before:

  • Clean your apartment - In a small apartment, there is no room to hide any mess, so it is important to have your home looking impeccable. It is inevitable that your apartment will become messy once you begin cooking / setting up, but by cleaning as much as you can in advanced will save you from a much bigger headache later.

  • Find a perfect scent for your party - Create a perfect ambiance for your party by deciding on a scent to compliment your menu. Find fitting candles, reed diffusers ect to bring these scents to life.

Two Days Before:

  • Start Cooking! - Anything that can be made in advanced (especially anything that can be frozen) should be prepped two days in advanced. Starting cooking early will make the next few days much easier. Also, if your kitchen is tiny, you won't be able to cook as many things at one time that someone in a larger kitchen would be able to, so you will need to give yourself sufficient time to cook everything.

  • Prepare the table - Setting the table in advanced will ensure that you have everything you need, and give you a better idea of how everything will fit on the table, so that you can best plan out how to serve each dish.

One Day Before:

  • Cook everything else that you can - Get as much cooking out of the way in advanced, and double check that you are set on drinks and desserts.

  • Do the dishes - Doing the dishes is hardly the best part of hosting a dinner party, but you definitely want your sink to be clean before guests arrive, both to make your home more presentable, and to leave an empty sink to fill with all of the dirty dishes produced by the party guests.

Day of:

  • Confirm with guests - Check to make sure there aren't any last minute cancellations or plus ones.

  • Clean apt one last time - Make sure living room/ dinning room, bathroom and kitchen are neat and tidy.

  • Double check place settings - Set out everything including water and wine.

  • Create a playlist - Make something that will blend in well into the background, but will also be lively and possibly contribute to the party conversation.

3 Hours Before:

  • Make sure all meal prep is finished

  • Shower and get ready - Don't become too occupied in the set up that you forget to pamper yourself.

  • Start reheating everything -Especially things like soup that be kept warm for a while.

  • Have a snack - Don't forget to eat something. There's no harm in sneaking a serving of the main course in advanced.

1 Hour Before:

  • Finish all prep - Start the music, light candles, set out all appetizers / first courses onto the table.

  • Get excited! - The most important part of the party is to have fun, so relax and think about how great the dinner will be!

Guests Arrive:

  • Greet everyone at the door -Take all coats and help everyone to seats. People might feel awkward about taking their seats, so it is helpful to guide each guest into their chairs.

  • Enjoy! - You have prepped all month for this party, and now is the time to just have fun and and enjoy it!


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