The key to a successful dinner party is to stay organized by breaking down the work of planning, shopping, and cooking into manageable, do-ahead tasks. Use the following tips as a starting point, and you’ll master the skills to hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner party with confidence and ease.
Begin by choosing a Valentine’s Day theme that will tie the entire party together. Take you cue from the season and the guest list, creating an elegant soiree.
Where and When
Next, choose a day and a location that will fit your desired theme. Look for creative ways to use your space that make the most of its best features, perhaps staging your party in the kitchen, family room, or on the deck. A 7:00pm starting time works well for most dinners. Allow an hour for cocktails and mingling before the meal.
Guest List and Invitations
Jot down a list of guests to invite, and round it out by adding people with complementary interests and backgrounds. Add a few extra names in case you need to invite more people.
For casual get-togethers, an e-mailed invitation or a phone call is appropriate. More formal parties call for invitations sent through the mail. Don’t forget to include all the details, including RSVP information. Allow four to six weeks’ advance notice for formal occasions, less for informal ones.
Hosting and Serving Tips
* As the guests arrive, pass flutes of chilled Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) on a napkin-lined tray.
* Set the table with good-quality linens and silverware and plain white plates that showcase the food.
* Use slender white candles at varying heights to create a warm, welcoming mood.
* If you have a fireplace, build a fire and consider serving drinks and appetizers or dessert and coffee beside the hearth.