The Newlywed’s Guide To The First Dinner Party
Now that the wedding’s over, it’s time to focus on setting up your first home, and that most likely means giving your first dinner party. You’re probably still a little tapped out from all the wedding expenses and, while you want it to be great, you’re also worried about paying the bills.
“The most important thing to realize is that a dinner party doesn’t have to take up all your expenses,” said Michael DeSatnik at Dean Supply. “It shouldn’t make you have to worry about making rent or mortgage payments or paying any other bills. Plan ahead and do set a budget, allowing for a few unexpected guests, such as the ones who don’t respond to an RSVP, but come anyway.”
Here are some tips to help get you through the first event.
First, make a list of everything you’ll need. Find out if any guests have allergies or other food requirements, then see if those foods need any special preparation and add it to your list.
Plan a budget and then stick with it. How much do you want to spend per head on food? Will any guests be bringing anything? “Will you also need to factor in the cost of beer, wine or other alcohol? Did you remember to factor in the cost of appetizers and desserts?
Will you need decorations? “You don’t have to go overboard but, say, if your dinner will fall around a holiday like Valentine’s Day or to celebrate a graduation, you may want a few,” said DeSantis.
Plan your menu ahead of time, and do it around your kitchen constraints and timing. For instance, if your oven’s tiny, you don’t want to find out at the last minute that something won’t fit. If you only have two working burners on your range, you want things that will require three or more burners going at once. Plan the menu, then make any adjustments to factor in timing or storage.
Also, think about variation; sometimes it’s better just to have a few items that are done well than a lot of other ho-hum food items.
- Do as much as you can ahead of time. Sometimes you can make certain foods or prepare sauces ahead of time. Take out serving platters, utensils, glassware, whatever is needed, and rinse them off, if needed. You probably can even get the table set way ahead of time.
- Preparation. This is always one of the most-asked questions: When do I start? Figure out how long it will take you to make each dish, then factor in when your guests will arrive. Then, add an hour to that and count backward. For example, if your guests are arriving at six, and you figure it will take three hours to prepare and cook all the food, then you add an extra hour (to accommodate unexpected emergencies), that’s a total of four hours for preparation: 6-4=2. So 2:00 is when you should start.
Try to clean as possible ahead of time (obviously, without making your guests uncomfortable!) As an example, if you’re baking a dessert for the party and it’s all finished by 5:00, there’s no reason why you can’t wash the pan and get it out of the way. Some people also choose to use disposable tableware, especially if the gathering will be large.
“Most of all, relax, have fun and enjoy your guests,” said DeSantis.