Guidelines for a stress free party, regardless if you are the guest or the host.
Food tastes better in congenial company.
When you host the party
If you are going to entertain, always find out about any allergies or special dietary requirements your guests may have before planning the menu..
When entertaining a large group, plan well in advance and get as much of your food preparation done as possible the few days before.
On the day of your dinner party, make a time-line so that you know when to do the final preparation on each item. This will make sure everything is done on time.
When making your dinner party grocery list, calculate about 1/2 pound of beef per guest. Err on the short side (7-8 oz) for boneless meat and on the generous side (8-10 oz) for meat bone in. Short ribs are a especial case, you should double the amount and buy about 14-16 oz per person.
If veal is in the party dinner menu, estimate 5 oz boneless veal and 6 oz veal bone in per person.
Estimate 6 oz per person for boneless pork or ham, and 8 oz for pork or ham bone in - double for spareribs and buy 16 oz per person.
Cooking chicken? Calculating is as easy as counting. Buy 6 oz per person boneless chicken, 7 oz per person for chicken pieces bone in, and 8 oz per person if you will cook a whole chicken.
Reduce stress on your next dinner party; cook something you’re very familiar with.
If it’s your first dinner party, keep it simple. Keep the meal simple and aim for about 6-8-guest maximum.
Have a small appetizer plate out for your dinner guests when they arrive. That way, you have some time to prepare the first course of your official meal.
For your dinner party dessert, consider offering a healthy option, such as like fresh fruit, in addition to something a little more sinful.
Who says you have to do all the food preparation for a party? Ask your guests to contribute a favorite dish or dessert. Alternatively, organize a potluck dinner where guests contribute with most of the dishes and you with the drinks and appetizers.
If you’re organizing a potluck, keep track of what everyone is bringing so you don’t have duplicates. Don’t be shy about asking for certain items if they’re needed to round out the menu.
Get the table ready well in advance; even the day before.
Make clean up after entertaining easier…make sure your dishwasher is empty before you start.
If one of your guest does not eat much, it is rude to ask why.
Being a gracious guest
A gift to the hostess is in order. Ask first if you would need to bring anything - any contribution you make would count as your gift - and, if nothing is required, still bring something with you. If you are not sure about what to take there are some traditional gifts that would do: a bottle of wine, a box of chocolate, some dessert, candles, cocktail napkins, a small plant.
Bringing food to a potluck? Bring it in the dish you will serve it in so you don’t give your hostess extra work and stress.
If you are bringing a dish to a potluck that needs heating or further preparation, make sure to let your hostess now, so she can be prepared.
Individual potluck dishes need not be in serving sizes for each guest. After all, if there are a lot of choices, everyone can eat a small serving and not everyone will try each food item.
As a guest, you should enjoy the dinner. If there is anything you do not like, just bear with it.
If you are pernickety about food or have serious allergy issue, it is right to offer taking your own food when the host or hostess ask you about your food likes and dislikes.