If you are throwing a dinner party or similar gathering at your house, it can all be very exciting. It’s easy to get carried away in the planning stages, without taking into account what is actually feasible. Of course you want your party to be memorable and wonderful for everyone who attends, but if you run yourself ragged, not only is it not worth it, but the results can often backfire.
It is natural to want to make a good impression when you’re entertaining. You want to serve the best food you’re capable of serving, have the house looking as good as it possibly can, and make sure that your guests never get bored. Usually when you’re planning your gathering, it’s not ideas that are in short supply. In fact, the problem can be that you have too many ideas, and that you can’t realistically get all of them done to the standard you would like. Keep in mind when you’re choosing what to do, that if you have too many things going on at once, it’s likely that none of them will be as nice as you hoped, and on top of everything you’ll need a vacation after your party.
Think about what you expect when you go to other people’s get-togethers. Nothing in particular, right? In fact, as long as there’s food and friendly company, those are the only real requirements, and those are certainly the things that people remember after the night is over. If you concentrate on getting the dinner right, it will stick in people’s minds more than anything else you can do. Quality does not necessarily mean extravagance, either — rather than watching you run back and forth to the kitchen a million times trying to put the finishing touches on a never-ending series of increasingly complicated dishes, it’s likely your guests would rather be served a simple, hearty meal, with you sitting at the table enjoying the conversation. Keep in mind that the riskier and more elaborate your meal is, the more worried you will be about it, and the greater the chance will be of something going wrong. If you really want to do something extra special that no one will expect, it might be more reasonable to confine your adventurous nature to one course instead of the whole meal. Try serving a dinner you know you can do well without too much strain, and then maybe finish off the meal with a new dessert that is completely different from anything you’ve ever made before.
Remember also that it’s your party. That means you should be having a good time, not being a slave to the kitchen or the guests. Being the hostess does have its responsibilities, but you should make sure that you’re not so busy that you never get a chance to relax until after everyone is gone. Aside from being unfair to you, your guests will pick up on your anxiety, and that will in turn affect the mood of the party. It’s nice to have a lot of things going on at a get-together, but not so many that you don’t have a moment to stop and enjoy them. If you really do feel you have to go above and beyond the normal requirements, consider bringing a second person in to help organize, or maybe even getting a local caterer to handle some of the cooking. Having even just one extra capable person in the kitchen can be a great help if you have a lot of guests, or other activities to oversee aside from the meal.
Naturally you want your party to be a success, but remember that the most important factor is the social aspect. Food and entertainment are nice, but the main reason people have come to your home is to enjoy each other’s company, and that includes yours, as well. So keep it as simple as you can, and get as much of the preparation done ahead of time as possible. When the guests start arriving, that’s your cue to slow things down a bit, trust that all your hard work will fall into place, and enjoy spending some time making your friends feel comfortable and relaxed in your home.