Top Tips for Planning a Dinner Party: Your Ultimate Checklist for a Memorable Evening

Are you dreaming of hosting an unforgettable dinner party that leaves your guests in awe? 

You’re in the right place! 

This comprehensive guide, brought to you by the experts at Big City Catering, is about to become your secret weapon. 

We’ll walk you through tips for planning a dinner party that is not only memorable but also highly enjoyable for both you and your guests. 

Let’s get started on this exciting journey!

Tip #1: Decide the Vibe of Your Dinner Party

The foundation of planning an unforgettable dinner party is choosing the right vibe. 

Setting a vibe helps maintain balance and prevent unnecessary stress, ensuring your dinner parties are an enjoyable experience for both you and your guests. 

But how do you decide on the vibe of your dinner party? It’s all about unleashing your creativity and personal flair.

The key to transforming your dinner party into an unforgettable experience lies in imprinting your unique touch on every detail. 

From the theme and the invitations you send out to the decorations you carefully arrange in your dining room, your expression can turn an ordinary evening into an event to remember.

Select a Dinner Party Theme

This will give you a framework that guides the design of online invitations, helps in selecting appropriate decor, deciding on a dinner menu, choosing suitable games, and making the party more memorable for your guests. 

But what kind of theme should you choose? Here are some ideas:

  1. It was a country-themed night with hearty comfort food and folk tunes playing in the background
  2. It is a vintage evening with classic cocktails, elegant table settings, and jazz music setting the mood
  3. ‘80s party with neon colors, funky music, and a fun dance-off

No matter the theme you choose, make sure to coordinate the food, music, and decorations to match each theme for a cohesive and memorable event that makes your guests feel special.

The Atmosphere Must Be Inviting

The ambiance of your dinner party will contribute immensely to creating an inviting atmosphere. 

It is where the magic of lighting comes into play. Using options like candles and subtle lighting arrangements as decoration, you can create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for sparking engaging conversations and fostering a sense of togetherness.

Choose music that matches the theme or desired atmosphere of the party to create an unforgettable ambiance, and provide luxurious and comfortable seating in your dining room to ensure your guests can truly relax and enjoy the dinner party. A well-placed coffee table can also add to the overall ambiance. Make sure to remember to add some beautiful flower arrangements.

Tip #2: Plan Your Guest List

One golden rule for successful dinner parties is inviting individuals who mesh well together. It’s as simple as that. A well-curated guest list creates a harmonious and enjoyable atmosphere at your dinner party. Here are some tips:

Begin by extending invitations to an assorted group of individuals, each with unique backgrounds and personalities. This sparks engaging conversations and interactions, making your dinner party truly memorable. Only invite people with whom you feel a strong sense of comfort, such as close friends and neighbors.

As for the number of guests, aim for a group size ranging from five to nine guests. This ensures optimal social interaction and intimacy.

Tip #3: Craft the Perfect Dinner Party Menu

Crafting a remarkable dinner menu is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on your guests. It is a dinner party, right? However, it’s not just about choosing delicious dishes—it’s about planning a well-rounded meal that caters to your guests’ tastes and dietary restrictions.

Choose a standout main course that serves as the meal’s star- it is your party, so that you can get creative. Consider time-saving options like pre-made lasagna or rotisserie chicken, then add your personal touch with a stunning salad or incorporate the chicken into a delicious dish like enchiladas.

Whatever you choose, do not forget about the side dishes and dessert. Try to serve two to three side dishes and make abundant quantities. This allows for smaller portions of each dish and ensures your guests are satisfied with the variety. For your desert, it must be visually appealing. Consider incorporating unique garnishes or homemade treats and adding customized menu cards with guests’ names and favorite dishes for a special touch.

Here are some tips to help you plan the meals:

Main Course

The main course takes center stage at any dinner party, and selecting the ideal one can appear challenging. Just keep it simple and do meals that are easy to prepare.

For guests with specific dietary needs, consider the following options:

  • Vegetarian: Herb-crusted cauliflower steaks with beans and tomatoes, roasted cabbage steaks, or white-cheddar scalloped potatoes
  • Gluten-free: Beef suya or spicy vegetable stew with coconut
  • Dairy-free: Peanut butter chicken, crispy shredded chicken or honey chicken

These options will impress your guests with their delicious flavors and accommodating nature.

Sensational Side Dishes

Side dishes can often make or break a meal. By considering the following factors, you can ensure a harmonious and delightful meal experience:

  • Flavors that pair well with the main dish
  • Balancing richness or weight
  • Contrasting textures
  • Paying attention to colors
  • Taking into account the cooking method

Choose side dishes that can be made in advance. For example, Cheddar and chive mashed potatoes, Slow-cooker potluck beans, Fried herb yeast rolls, Root vegetable tian, and Greek pasta salad.

These dishes still taste amazing when served later.


A divine dessert is the perfect conclusion to the evening after a gratifying meal. Do not stress your mind with a complicated dessert. Simple desserts often make the biggest impression.

Therefore, consider serving a delectable dessert like supermarket ice cream sandwiches or bars. These simple options will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth and leave a lasting impression.

And the best part? You get to enjoy the party and the company of your guests instead of spending all your time in the kitchen trying to impress them with your cooking skills.

Tip #4: Choose the Dinks to Delight

What would a dinner party be without an assortment of pleasing beverages? Just as with the food, it’s vital to offer a variety of drinks to suit all your guests’ preferences. This includes cocktails, mocktails, and non-alcoholic options. The key is to keep the offerings simple and choose one or two drinks that complement the meal. And let’s not forget about water—always have plenty on hand to keep everyone hydrated.

But to elevate your beverage game, consider creating a signature cocktail for the evening. Not only will this add a fun and personal touch to your dinner party, but it will also serve as a great conversation starter.

Tip #5: Set the Scene For Your Dinner Party: Table Settings and Decorations

Setting the scene goes beyond just putting out plates and glasses. It’s about creating an ambiance that enhances the dining experience and complements the theme of your party.

You must choose the right dinnerware. If you organize formal occasions, go for fine china or porcelain dinnerware with dinner plates, salad plates, soup bowls, and dessert plates. You can also add elegant crystal stemware for your drinks. However, for laid-back get-togethers, go for stoneware or ceramic everyday dinnerware, including dinner plates, salad plates, and bowls. And keep it casual with stemless or simple glassware for your beverages. Finish the setting with a stunning centerpiece, and voila! You’ve got a picture-perfect table ready for your guests.

How to Prepare A Stress-Free Dinner Party

Preparation presents one of the most significant challenges in hosting a dinner party. But with a little organization and some time-saving techniques, party prep can be a breeze. It’s essential to create a detailed plan to ensure a successful evening. This will help you prioritize tasks and allocate your time effectively.

But you don’t have to do it all yourself. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends or family. Whether setting up the dining room, preparing the food, or serving the guests, having an extra pair of hands can make a big difference. And if you’re pressed for time or desire the best, consider delegating the food preparation tasks to a professional catering company like Big City Catering. This will help with everything from menu planning to food preparation, allowing you to focus on hosting and enjoying the event.

Choose Big City Catering Company For Tasty Meals and Exquisite Service in Your Dinner Party

Hosting a truly memorable dinner party with minimal stress might be worth bringing on a professional catering company. Big City Catering in Toronto is a trusted provider of catering services for dinner parties . We offer:

  • Full-service catering, including menu planning, food preparation, and serving.
  • We offer gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free menu options.
  • Custom menus to suit your preferences and dietary restrictions.
  • Accommodation of special requests.
  • Professional service.

With our expertise and attention to detail, Big City Catering can help make your dinner party successful.

With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Big City Catering is well-equipped to handle all aspects of your dinner party. From creating a tailor-made menu to providing top-notch service, we ensure your event is a resounding success. Plus, with our help, you’ll be able to focus on your guests and enjoy the party rather than worrying about the food and drinks.

Extra Tips For A Smooth Execution on the D-Day

Ensure all the food preparation is done at least two hours before the guests arrive. This will give you ample time to set up the dining room and get yourself ready for the evening.

Also, create a specific timeline for the evening and share it with your guests. This helps everyone know what to expect and ensures a smooth flow of events.

When to Serve Each Course

Serving courses at the right intervals ensures guests enjoy each dish without feeling rushed or waiting too long. Here are three guidelines to follow:

  1. Plan for the appetizer course to last about 15-30 minutes.
  2. Serve the main course 30 minutes to an hour after the guests arrive.
  3. Allow 30-45 minutes between the main course and dessert.

This smooth transition between courses greatly enhances the atmosphere of your dinner party, making it a more enjoyable experience for your guests.

Wrap Up the Evening With After-Dinner Entertainment

Once everyone’s relished a satisfying meal, the stage is set for some enjoyable after-dinner entertainment. This will be an excellent opportunity to engage your guests and make the evening more memorable. To create the most relaxing atmosphere after dinner, you can:

  • Dim the lights for a cozy ambiance
  • Play soothing background music
  • Arrange comfortable seating
  • Use aromatherapy such as scented candles or fresh flowers to set a calm, welcoming environment for your guests to unwind.

But why stop at relaxation? You can also make the evening lively by serving delectable desserts, organizing dinner party games, setting up a blind-tasting experience, planning a roast session, and adding other unique and fun activities.

Whatever you choose, ensure it encourages interaction and lively, exciting conversations among guests.

Final Thoughts

Hosting a memorable dinner party involves careful planning, creativity, and attention to detail. From setting the vibe and choosing a theme to mastering the dinner menu and ensuring smooth execution, every aspect plays a crucial role in the event’s success. And with the help of our professional catering company you can host a flawless dinner party that leaves your guests in awe. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you structure a dinner party?

Hosting a dinner party is easy when you plan and involve your guests. Consider the guest list, set the menu and prep beforehand, arrange the table setting, create an ambiance with sensory elements, assign tasks to some guests, and lead the evening’s flow.

How far in advance should I start preparing for a dinner party?

Start preparing for your dinner party at least one week before to ensure success. Planning will help make your event stress-free and enjoyable.

What is the ideal number of guests for a dinner party?

For an intimate and memorable gathering, the ideal number of guests for a dinner party is five to nine.

How can I cater to guests with specific dietary needs?

Reach out to your guests before the event and ask about dietary restrictions. Offer a variety of dishes that accommodate different dietary needs so everyone can be catered to.