You don't need to wait for a special occasion before hosting a dinner party! Getting together over a delicious meal with friends can be very enjoyable and therapeutic - particularly if you are going through a 'rough patch' in your life, as it can give you something positive to focus on. However, being able to sit down and relax on the day will depend very much on how well you have planned your party.
Creating the Guest List
First of all, you will need to decide which friends you are going to invite. Although it can be impossible to tell who will, or will not get along, it is wise to consider the ages and personalities of your proposed guests before making a final decision - the last thing you want is a big argument to erupt over dinner.
Send out your invitations or phone up your friends well in advance. It can be difficult to find a suitable day when everyone is free if you leave it too late. Make sure that you are aware of any food allergies or preferences, as this will obviously have an effect on your menu options. If you have decided on a particular theme for your party, which involves wearing anything specific, or, if it is going to be fancy dress, make sure you tell your guests when you invite them.
Planning the Menu
When deciding on a menu, don't attempt anything beyond your culinary skills - after all, these are your friends and they won't mind what you make. With a little imagination and garnish, a simple dish can look elaborate and mouth-watering. If you decide to make the first course, why not buy a starter and a dessert? Don't attempt a new recipe on the day; try it out on the family in advance, just in case it is a disaster.
It may be a good idea to choose a free day in advance of your dinner party to cook your meal, when there is no pressure. You can then freeze it and just heat it all through on the day. This way you will know that your meal is organized and it will allow you more time to pamper yourself, rather than spending your time in the kitchen. If you want to make things really easy for yourself, why not order all your food from take-out and then set it all out beautifully on the table - no one will think you've cheated!
Setting the Scene
With the menu out of the way, it only leaves the ambiance of the room to create and the table to decorate. This is where you can really use your imagination. There are so many ideas to choose from including, candles, napkin rings and fancy napkis, place settings, flowers, balloons, party poppers, etc.
If you are not choosing a specific theme to work around, think about the time of year and what is available. If your party is in the summer, you could use beautiful scented flowers and fresh fruits, and why not consider eating in the garden! In the winter, there are plenty of rich colors, such as reds and greens, along with spices and glitter. Remember to have a look around to ensure that you have enough crockery, cutlery and glasses for the number of guests you have invited, too.
It can be very easy to forget something when trying to plan a dinner party, so keeping a piece of paper handy right from the beginning will allow anything to be jotted down as soon as you think about it. Once everything is planned and in place, all you have left to think about is what you are going to wear!