Between finally getting to decorate your own outdoor garden, killing your first spider, painting and setting your own WiFi password, there are so many fun milestones to check off the list once you move into your first place. We think throwing your first dinner party is the most fun. We’ve already given you some easy ways to step up your entertaining game with pretty plates and fancy silverware, but now it’s time to get cracking. In celebration of our Week of Making, we’re getting down to the details: how to actually throw the party!


1. Plan ahead. A week before your party, create a specific to-do list that includes shopping, cleaning and making a playlist. Allot yourself time in the days leading up to the party to complete one or two tasks so that on the day of, you’re not trying to do laundry, sweep the kitchen floor and chop onions — all at once. Be sure to check out our Online Party Planning Class for even more tips on how to plan like a badass.


2. Make what you know. If you have a killer roasted chicken recipe in your proverbial back pocket, by all means, make that! Trying to wrangle a 16-step Thai dish you’ve never tried the night of your first dinner party is a recipe for stress. And, okay — if what you know is frozen chicken tenders and boxed macaroni and cheese, then at least…


3. Keep it simple. Find recipes that can be made ahead of time or that require baking time, rather than time in front of the stove. Cheese, grapes and crackers or guacamole, salsa and chips are two easy snacks to have out while dinner is cooking. Skip the open bar and don’t feel like you’ve got to frost a four-layer cake for dessert. Check out Ina Garten’s Make It Ahead for tons of recipes that’ll keep you out of the kitchen and in the mix all night.


4. Keep it seasonal. And by keeping it seasonal, you’ll be keeping it affordable, since seasonal produce is always cheapest. If the market is stocked full of fresh corn, basil and cherry tomatoes, throw together a fresh corn salad as your side. Save the stews and soups for a fall fete and let citrus shine in the winter.


5. Set the mood. Your guests will feel relaxed if you’re relaxed, so get into the right vibe before they show up. We’re thinking lit, unscented candles, chill music and a glass of wine in your hand. Of course, Martha Stewart is the queen of making a mood, so don’t hesitate to pop over to see her tips on how to entertain like a pro.

Have you recently moved out on your own for the first time and are now contemplating a dinner party? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know what you’d serve!