How to Manage Your Dinner Party

Hosting a formal dinner party can be stressful. There is decorating, cleaning, and of course all the cooking.

Not to mention all of the things you need to even get started.

The day of can get really hectic and overwhelming, so here are my tips to manage your time so that you aren’t scrambling when your guests arrive.

The Days Before

This really starts with the days before your dinner.


Go grocery shopping and double triple check that you have everything you need. Nothing is worse than going to cook the day of and realize you’re missing something.

I’ll go over my strategy for putting together a comprehensive shopping list later in this post.


Of course I recommend cleaning the house as much as possible, so that you only have to do a quick reclean the day of. I do a deep clean of the house the days before, then day of clean the kitchen as I go and might do a quick vacuum again because we have dogs.

Set the Table

Setting the table can take a while so if you can do that before go ahead and do so.

I talk about everything you need for your table in the post below:

Recommended: Hosting a Dinner Party: What You Need

Prep the Food and Serving Dishes

Since dinner parties mean a lot of sides, appetizers, desserts, etc. it is almost impossible to prep and cook all these things the day of.

If you need chopped vegetables do that in advance. Measure out ingredients the day before so you can just throw them together the next day.

Anything you can do ahead of time, do it. The day of will get hectic, but we’ll get to that later.

Also get out our serving dishes and set aside for each food item you plan to serve. This allows you to make sure you have enough for the food as well as keeps you from having to dig through cabinets the day of.

The Day of

Now that the big day is finally here, you should just have the cooking and the final touches.

One thing that keeps me organized is creating a schedule that serves as a hub for all the food and to do’s for the day.


Below is my schedule I use to keep organized for the day of.

I write out all the sides I want to cook and include the recipe and ingredients. I then turn the ingredients list into a shopping list. I also added a space to write down other to do’s as I think of them.

The schedule is not for everyone, but some people find it helpful.

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