Plan your meal: It is helpful to jot down notes in a notepad especially if you are planning a big dinner party. Plan your party in advance as much as possible in case any unexpected issues pop up. That way you'll have time to take care of them. If you have a long to do list, creating a plan will help you get things done in a timely manner. You don't want to be so stressed that you can't enjoy your party.
Stick with familiarity: You're excited about your dinner party and want everyone to be impressed with your culinary skills so to avoid a potentially disastrous night and skip that exotic dish you've been dying to try. Most people are creatures of habit and may take some time to warm up to unfamiliar dishes.
Create a Shopping List: List everything you want to get and everything need. Look and see what you already have and how much. Make sure you get more than enough of what you need to prepare your meal so you will not run out in the middle of preparation. Everyone may not drink wine so offer a variety of beverages that are also non-alcoholic. Have at least two types of meats, a variety sides and a light dessert.
Consider Special Diets: Check with your guests to see if any of them have any special dietary needs.
Decide on Specialty Items: If you can afford to be extravagant then splurge a little. If not, it's okay because it's all about family, friends, good food and good times. More than likely everyone will appreciate the hard work and effort you put into making the occasion special.
Choose a Theme: Unless you are having international guest from around the world for dinner choose one cuisine theme. Avoid trying to be creative by having a variety of dishes from different cultures or worse a fusion of two dishes that is experimental.
Take Inventory: Do you have enough pots and pans that are the right sizes and right ones? Kitchen space? Tables and chairs? How about serving dishes, dinnerware, glasses and cutlery? To- go containers?
If not, purchase what you need or borrow from family and friends who wont mind lending to you.
Plan Prep Time: So you can spend as much time with your guest instead of in the kitchen prepare some dishes in advance. This really works great if you have a complex dish you want to serve. The only thing that'll be left to do is warm up the food and add any finishing touches.
Arrange setting: Keep it casual so everyone will relax and have a good time. If you have a large group of people (11 or more) it will probably be better to serve your guest a sit down meal than a buffet.
Consider Extras: Decorations, music and food garnishes are optional but are a nice touch but not required. Keep it simple if you decide to add them. The presentation and quality of food and company is what everyone will remember and be talking about.
Planning a menu is a snap and will help you avoid a disastrous evening. Follow these easy tips and everyone at your dinner party will have a great time and fond memories to share.