5 tips to help you host the perfect dinner party

Whether it's a large catered affair or a more intimate gathering, you'll want your dinner party to be enjoyable and affordable. Here's some tips to help you pull it off.

5 tips to help you host the perfect dinner party

1. Rent the dishes separately

  • If you're hosting a catered party, ask the catering company to itemize all charges.
  • When you get the figure, you'll be charged for such accessories as dishware, silverware and tablecloths, use it to do some comparison shopping.
  • Chances are, the caterer is renting these accoutrements himself and is just marking up the rental fees.
  • Call several party suppliers in the phone book to see if you can beat the figure your caterer is charging you. The caterer may stamp his feet, but you're in charge.

2. Keep your pipes clean

  • Nothing will kill a party's mood faster than a backed-up toilet. It's one of those aspects of party planning that no one really talks about, but it shouldn't be overlooked.
  • Prepare for a potential septic challenge by having all toilets that partygoers will use professionally snaked right before the event.
  • It's better to spend 40 dollars ahead of time than risk the embarrassment and expense of an emergency call to the plumber in the middle of your party.

3. Play musical plates

  • Use smaller, 23-centimetre (nine-inch) plates instead of the standard 30-centimetre (12-inch) size.
  • By shrinking the size of the plates, you'll trick your guests into thinking that they're putting more food away than they are.
  • On the flip side, if your dinner is winding down and you don't want leftovers, switch over to larger plates and hope that your guests pile them high.

4. Celebrate diversity at your party

  • To make everyone feel included, request that each person bring a menu item that's representative of his or her religion or cultural background.
  • For an added bonus, ask them to send you the recipe in advance so you can create a multicultural holiday cookbook for your guests.
  • Not only does this celebrate your guests' cultural differences, it means you have to cook a lot less.

5. Make just one outstanding dish

  • When you're trying to be the perfect host, there's a natural tendency to overdo it.  In the process, you can not only bust your budget but also drive yourself into a frenzy.
  • Instead, make one dish the star of the meal and spend your extra effort and money on that one course.
  • If the other parts of the meal are straightforward and simple — but made with fresh, tasty ingredients — they'll set off the prize dish rather than compete with it.

There's so much to do when you're about to host a dinner party. But with the right knowhow and some simple tricks, you can save money and still have time to enjoy your meal.

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