You’ve scoured social media for inspiration, cleaned every crevice of your home, and promised to extend an invite to your best friend’s crush. You’ve got all the makings of a natural host, and your friends are bound to have a great time at your first-ever dinner party. Now it’s time to prep for an evening that will be just as enjoyable (and trouble-free!) for you.
We’ve teamed up with OXO to show you how the right tools, time-saving tricks, and decor hacks will help you throw the ultimate dinner gathering without breaking a sweat.
Ready? Scroll on for eight ways to nail hosting your first soirée!
1. Make what you know. This is not the day to test-run that decadent 15-layer rainbow cake you spotted on Pinterest. Avoid a potential last-minute snafu by sticking to one of your tried and true recipes for the evening. Mom’s infamous lasagna or a classic baked casserole will satisfy bellies and do the trick. Not only will guests love trying (or revisiting) one of your dishes, but they’ll also appreciate a warm meal served on time. More importantly, you’ll be freed up to focus on greeting your guests rather than troubleshooting in the kitchen!
2. Prep everything you can ahead of time, even dessert. Hint: The key to a relaxing evening is doing the hard work earlier in the day. When creating a menu, choose dishes that can be almost entirely prepared ahead of time. Sure, you’ve seen a friend keep a casserole warm in the oven or throw a finishing touch on a salad. But did you know that even ice cream can be prepared ahead of time?
Wow your guests by cutting down on the mess of the frozen treat before they arrive. Grab a baking sheet and pop it into the freezer for about an hour. This will keep the surface nice and cool. Set your ice cream out to soften about three minutes before you are ready to scoop. Next, run your scoop under warm water before dipping into the dessert. If you like to give guests a few flavor options, you can count on the OXO Solid Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop to do an Instagram-worthy job when serving both ice cream and sorbet. Place each flavor on the baking sheet and quickly return to freezer until dessert is ready to be served. This will allow your dessert to stay frozen longer and keep a beautiful shape, making it all the more appetizing!
3. Get a few small arrangements out of a big bouquet for maximum impact. Ready to be a total dinner party rebel? Skip the traditional centerpiece and opt for a few small arrangements instead. You’ll leave room for more delicious dishes on the table and allow each guest to appreciate the decor no matter where they sit. Most importantly, no one will have to crane their neck to see the person across from them!
Grab a bouquet of fresh flowers at the market and separate it into three or four bud vases. Trim each stem at an angle and place them in water! Voilà.
4. Create name tags to avoid awkward musical chairs. Not only will simple place cards proactively save guests from having to decide where to sit, but they’ll also double as decor. This is your opportunity to introduce new friends to each other, help create interesting conversations, and show off your ability to bring pals together. Plus, you’ll get major brownie points with your BFF for strategically seating her next to that crush ;)
5. Whip up a batch cocktail to avoid playing bartender all night. As much as you may be a whizz with the cocktail shaker, you’ll have enough responsibilities for the night as the host. Save yourself the burden of mixing individual drinks by opting for a large batch style cocktail that can be prepared earlier in the day. (Are you seeing a trend yet?!) Bulk classics like a mule, Old Fashioned, or even punch will allow you to skip the shot glass and use an everyday measuring cup to whip up the evening’s refreshment in larger quantities. For this, stick with angled tools, like the OXO 3 Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set, so that you can see measurement markings from overhead when pouring.
Mix everything in a few serving pitchers and keep them cool in the refrigerator. Once guests arrive, they can serve themselves over ice and top off their glasses as needed!
6. Speaking of, floral ice cubes are a must! When you host, it’s all about killing two birds with one stone. An ice bucket full of beautiful floral ice cubes on the table will allow guests to freshen up their own drinks AND can be a great way to add a fun decor element.
The night before your dinner party, fill up a few ice trays with water. Next, add a few petals to each cube mold and pop in the freezer overnight. Since your freezer is bound to be packed tightly the night before a dinner party, you’ll love the OXO No-Spill Ice Cube Trays. Their seal makes them super easy to stack (seriously, these babies are sturdy) and prevents spilling. Score!
Pro tip: When filling your tray, opt for bottled water over tap. This will leave your ice cubes clear and let those flowers shine!
7. Minimize clean-up by using one dish to cook and serve. After a long evening of hosting, the last thing you’ll want to do is clean more dishes. That’s why you should strategically select dishes that can do double duty. We’re talking equal parts function and beauty.
8. Set the mood with a premade playlist for the day.
Let’s face it — besides grabbing that Pinterest-worthy photo, you won’t want to spend the evening on your phone. Before guests arrive, pull up your go-to playlist or a custom mix and relinquish your duties as DJ for the night. Your only responsibility is to enjoy your meal!
Remember: A little prep up front means *extra* party later on, and the right kitchen tools and dishes will allow you to work smarter, not harder. Now you’ve got everything you need to pull off a dinner party that every guest — including yourself — will love!
PSST: Between 9/12/18 and 10/10/18, head over to OXO for a chance to win over *$500 worth of products* that will up-level your hosting game!
Do you have any tips for hosting? We’d love to hear them! Share with us on Twitter by tagging @BritandCo and @OXO.
Production & Styling: Kayla Haykin & Amanda Anselmino
Photography: Brittany Griffin
Modeling: Natasha Thomas, Casey Callahan, Kris Stewart, Kayla Haykin, Kara Schab