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Dinner Parties, Part One.

Some prefer to invite a larger number of people and just manage a larger group if everyone accepts, while others prefer to invite exactly the number they wish to have, and only invite additional people if spots become open. Both approaches have their downsides; the first approach might leave you with too many people (personally, I'm in the "more the merrier" camp); the second with some guests feeling slighted if they were invited very late.

By
Adam Lowe

This episode we'll start the first of a two part series on hosting a dinner party.

Inviting Guests

The first thing you need to do when having a dinner party is to decide whom to invite. We’ve done an episode on creating a guest list, and we'll put a link to that show in the transcript on the website. If you wish to be very formal, you may send an invitation by mail, but nowadays most people call, e-mail, or invite people in person. On-line invitation services are fine when coordinating a large group of people, but for an intimate dinner party a more personal or at least direct invitation is best. If you have an ideal number of guests in mind, you may need to find the dates your guests will be available if you are flexible about the date of your dinner, or perhaps invite a slightly larger number of people if you think some people will not be able to make it. Some prefer to invite a larger number of people and just manage a larger group if everyone accepts, while others prefer to invite exactly the number they wish to have, and only invite additional people if spots become open. Both approaches have their downsides; the first approach might leave you with too many people (personally, I'm in the "more the merrier" camp); the second with some guests feeling slighted if they were invited very late. As for the latter, it can also be OK to invite people at the last minute. You might say something like, "I was having a few people over for dinner, and it suddenly struck me how lovely it would be to see you and have you join the fun."

Planning a Menu

Now that you have an idea of who is coming, you can plan or refine your menu. You should plan on providing all food and drinks for your guests, unless you have very close friends who really wish to help out. I believe your goal as host should be to provide your guests with a lovely, fun, interesting and carefree evening, and that the guests' primary duties are to show up and have a good time. You should find out if any of your guests have dietary restrictions, and make plans to accommodate them as much as possible. It's not that you have to be a short-order cook and provide each person with a different dish, but make sure at least part of the meal will be tasty and satisfying to all of your guests. If you have mostly dedicated carnivores plus a vegetarian or two, make sure that you've got enough meatless options to make up a good meal, and it's also nice to enquire if your vegetarian guests would be upset or offended if you served meat. While it is your party and you are perfectly entitled to serve what you wish, the objective is to make the evening comfortable and enjoyable for your guests.

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About the Author

Adam Lowe
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