Hosting a dinner party was stressful even before we all got out of the habit of socializing, but as we tentatively invite our friends around for our first post-pandemic rendezvous, many of us find ourselves entirely uncertain when it comes to everything from menus to entertainment.
This is especially true if you’ve forgotten basic dinner party etiquette, including how to keep your guests happy while you dash in and out of the kitchen to get your food up to standard. Luckily, help is on hand for even the unversed dinner party host in 2022, and it comes in the form of our handy guide of dinner tricks that can make it so your guests barely even notice when you’re gone.
Be a conversational matchmaker
Unless your guests already know each other, any host absences will inevitably lead to stilted conversation and awkward silences as people struggle to find common ground. Get rid of that risk by taking steps to be a conversational matchmaker before you have to disappear. Getting similar personalities together, or pinpointing why people would get on/have something to talk about is all you need to worry about here. Then, with a bit of luck, the conversation should flow naturally enough that you can dip out for five or ten minutes without it making a huge difference.
Always prepare between-course appetizers
Your guests are here to eat, and if they’re hangry you can guarantee they’ll notice your absences a whole lot more. Avoid this by always preparing between-course appetizers that can keep everyone munching, and distracted, while you take care of the main event. Do note that you don’t want your appetizers to become another thing that you take ages preparing, so keep this simple where you can. Cold options like bruschetta, or even just basic nibbles including olives, crisps and something like this smoked queso recipe is as much as you need to do. Then, lay these dishes out as soon as guests start arriving, and make sure that everyone’s tucking in so that you can dash out when you need to.
Limit your cooking time in general
To a certain extent, even smokescreens like conversation and nibbles won’t impress your guests if you spend an hour or more in the kitchen on the night. Obviously, ten minutes here and there are inevitable with any dish, but make sure that’s all you need to spend away from the party by choosing things that you can largely prepare in advance, including options like pies, curries, or similar. That way, all you need to do on the night is put things in the oven and keep an eye on them, making it way easier to cover your short absences so that your guests genuinely feel like you’ve been with them the whole night.
Regardless of how out of practice you are, or even if you’ve never hosted a dinner party before, you can make it way more likely that your guests will have a great time by putting these tricks into action.