Step by step guide for Successful Dinner Party for 8-12 people

This blog is a step by step guide to hosting a successful 4 hour dinner party.

  • Make everyone feel special by considering your guests’ dietary needs like food allergies, intolerances, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, lactose free, gluten free, etc. You can ask this question in the invitation. You want to be inclusive of everyone’s needs at your party. Something for everyone. People gave up their time to come, so make it worth their while 🙂
  • Request an RSVP at least 1 week before the event so you can plan things properly. Always plan for an extra guest or 2.

Some preliminaries to set your foundation for success:

  • Timing is important. You want all your hot foods to be ready at the same time. Slow cookers, rice cookers, and chafing pans are very useful to keep food warm until ready to serve. The food for dinner needs to be ready all at the same time. Write down a protocol with a timeline. What you are going to do and when. It starts days before and the day of the event. Included on this list should be cleaning up your place before the party.
  • You can always get hired help to assist in clean up at beginning and end, cook and serve. Local High School may have students willing to help especially those who have studied culinary arts or worked in a restaurant.

As the host, make sure everyone is engaging in the activities or conversation.

Menu wise, I always avoid Dairy (with some exceptions ) and sugar (honey is OK). Try to keep local and seasonal and organic.

Sample Menu: Appetizers, Drinks, Main Meal, Desserts

Standard Appetizers: Purchase these 2-4 days before event or if you are really busy most groceries stores deliver.

  • Comte Cheese from French Alps made from Raw milk and fermented 8-36 months, Brie, Vegan Cashew and or coconut milk cheese. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
  • Smoked Wild Salmon decorated with thin Lemon slices, Capers and or Dill. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
cheese serving tray
  • Fresh finger fruits like grapes , strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and or blackberries
  • Olives or Olive Tapenade. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
  • Guacamole or Salsa served with Corn Chips

Drinks:

  • Red and White wine. My general rule- no red wine drinking near carpet. In a small group people generally respect this
  • Beer(s)
  • Kombucha is very popular these days
  • Iced tea
  • Water, plain and carbonated, lemon and or lime slices
  • Coffee and Teas
  • No soda, no juice

Make sure you have lots of ice on hand.

Main Dish :

Stews can be made 2-3 days before and heated up on stove or microwave and kept warm in chafing dish. Slow cookers are also handy for stews. Good to do this so you can focus on your guests during party. On the day of party, if serving rice, use a rice cooker. Set this up the night before. You can set timer so it can be ready when dinner starts or kept warm until you are ready to serve it. Some pastas can be ready in 5-10minutes. I boil some water in electric kettle and some on stove. Then combined the 2. This saves time.

Having your party catered in another option or bring in a chef. But that really adds to the cost. I have not done well with potlucks. The flavors of dishes that people bring don’t always complement each other and some people can bring some very unhealthy foods eg. Deep fried foods, processed foods, meaning they buy them because they don’t cook to have time to cook.

Easy Vegan main dish: examples Baked Tofu Bowl , Spaghetti or Fusilli with garlic marinara sauce or capellini with olive oil, chopped garlic, olives, and fresh basil (pescatarian can add chopped anchovies). I have posted other dishes on my blog, plus more to come in future. You can even have as an activity, all your guess make their own food, like rolling sushi or spring rolls. It is rather a fun thing to do together.

Toppings:

Pickled Beets*, Kim Chee and or Pickled Asian greens/veggies ( fermented food benefits) , Dulse dried Seaweed, Nutritional Yeast (latter is a vegan substitute for Parmesan Cheese).

Sides:

  • Spinach with onions can be prepared night before, then heated up and kept warm in a Chafing pan
  • Roasted Cauliflower
  • Make a salad dressing night before. Buy pre-washed organic baby kale or your favorite greens. Some come as mixes with carrots, cabbage etc. Open when ready to serve and mix with dressing. You should own a large wood salad bowl for tossing (Ikea has these).

Dessert:

Prepare 1-2 days before.

Examples

  • Chocolate Pudding
  • Vegan ice cream or sorbet topped with fresh berries, sprinkle with liqueur (optional). Top with a tablespoon of almond or coconut yogurt. Then decorate with a mint leaf and or dark chocolate shaving. Skip the ice cream/sorbet if you want to keep sugar content down.
  • Offer coffee and tea (black and herbal)

Teach the practice of Hara Hachi Bu

The Japanese phrase, Hara Hachi Bu, means eat until you are 80% full. Higher caloric intake and overeating is common in USA. The Okinawans have a custom of self-imposed calorie restriction and regularly consume only 1,800 to 1,900 calories a day. This is a few hundred calories less than what the average American consumes. This is likely a major contributor to Okinawans remarkable health and long life spans.

*Beets contain Nitrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It has heart, BP, cognitive and endurance benefits https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-nitrates-and-nitrites-harmful#section

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below

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