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Couple to Host 1st Dinner Party-a.k.a Christmas Dinner--any tips or suggestions?

My husband and I are going to host our 1st ever dinner party which happens to be Christmas dinner and I'm a little nervous. This going to be an affair of about 10 people, mostly neighbors, and one couple is coming who usually does the hosting in our building. Any tips or suggestions on how to be good hosts?

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  1. Some people do a rib roast for Christmas rather than turkey. What are you planning? I also read your post as more looking for "good hosts" tips rather than menu? Is that right? The Not About Food discussions below are going to answer alot :)

    1. Plan ahead, make lists. Do as much cooking in advance as you can, so you can have fun, too. A relaxed host is a good host. It's about your friends, not just the food. Enjoy!

      1. Keep your plans to foods/recipes you've made before, with maybe 1 item at most that is a new one for you. Having confidence that you can execute is a HUGE help to me whenever I've hosted, even though I'm tempted to pull out a new recipe to impress everyone. This should also help keep you out of the kitchen so you can enjoy your party, as LJBTampa noted. I'm also a big fan of soup as a first course for dinner parties because of the make-ahead advantage. I am doing a sweet potato and roasted apple soup for Christmas eve dinner this year that will be in the fridge ready to go a day or so in advance. Finally, keep the music buzzing to build the atmosphere and accept help when it is offered! If someone wants to set the table or pour drinks, let them have at it!

        3 Replies
        1. re: jboeke

          I've set the table even the day before but certainly early in the day of the party. I have a vintage, kitschy ice bucket and we set that up on part of the kitchen counter that I don't need to use with the standard liquors, mixers, limes, cutting board and knife, etc. I have all the bowls and platters that I will need out and in a stack, along with serving spoons and the like.

          And I STRONGLY agree with you to only serve those thing that you've mastered. Whether it's your first dinner party or not, if you're going to be nervous, don't try new things.

          Have a glass of wine just before your guests arrive :)

          1. re: c oliver

            "Have a glass of wine just before your guests arrive :)"

            Oye Vey! I did that once....maybe it was 2 - but it was my first time hosting dinner for DH's family.
            Well everything was fine and dandy and dinner was lovely and so were the 3 bottles of wine we enjoyed with the meal.....
            Everything was fine until I finished my last bight, put myfork down and excused myself to the loo.
            Well - my guests never saw me again because I threw up and passed out upstairs!
            Yikes!
            Needless to say I have never lived that down - AND I watcgh what I drink before guests arrive!!

            Anyway When I was first married (the first DH) many years ago - I remember how stressful dinner parties were for me, but I have becaome really organized over the years...it just takes practice...
            My best advice is "Don't sweat the small stuff!!"
            Everything will fall into place!
            And def agree with the above advice of making as much as you can in advance - AND not trying anything new!!

            Good Luck and Enjoy yourself!

            1. re: NellyNel

              lol...many, many years ago when we were first married my husband invited over his new boss (they were friends as well, fortunately). We had a lovely meal, but apparently my husband had a little too much to drink. As we were finishing desert, he scooped up our two year old (who was behaving just fine, btw) and said "Edward and I are going to bed!" And he disappeared into the bedroom, never to be heard from again (well at least for that evening...)....It was left to me to play hostess to our guests, serve them coffee, and make after-dinner conversation.....

              Fortunately they WERE friends, and hubby's work status was not affected...

        2. Less is better, try to come up with foods that can be done in advance so you can enjoy yourself once company comes. I keep a timeline on dishes/things that need to be done, when each part can be prepped, bought, etc. Overall, it'll go well so don't stress. Even when things don't go as planned, as long as you have the right attitude, it'll be fun and that's what counts.

          1. It's always good to have no hassle nibbles and drinks out and set in the living room for your guests to help themselves. The key is to have the wine opened with the glasses ready and a bowl of nuts, cheese and crackers or any other finger food layed out. Without that, there's kind of an anxious buzz about when dinner will start. You should be ok with not doing kitchen stuff the first 20 minutes of your gathering because you will need to greet guests. Once there's a critical mass you chattering, you can get to the kitchen to do prep.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Dcfoodblog

              I totally agree with this. Have something enticing already out with music already on. When people nosh they relax.