How to throw a stress-free dinner party

Read our top 10 tips on how to host a seamless soirée with friends and family, from choosing easy mains to the wisdom of always making a pudding in advance.

How to throw a stress-free dinner party

Dinner parties are a great excuse to gather friends and family, drink wine, eat good food, laugh and be merry. They don’t have to be stressful if you follow our simple, yet effective, guidelines. You can either do it yourself or discover our ultimate tip for stress-free-no-cooking-no-clean up dinner parties…

  • The key is in the planning – choose the menu wisely with recipes that can be prepared in advance and don’t require you spending too long in the kitchen. Our collection of easy dinner party mains are all straightforward but deliver big flavour, like this dijon chicken with mushrooms. 470200-1-eng-GB_dijon-chicken
  • Our mantra is to do as little as possible. A stressed host is a bad host – so make your life easy. You don’t need a fancy starter if you’re having a few nibbles. A main that goes straight on the table rather than faffy plating-up is always easier. If making puddings brings you out in a rash then don’t make them – buy some good quality ice cream, brew some strong coffee and have affogato.
  • Deputy food editor, Lottie always makes a dessert in advance that only needs to be warmed through or taken out of the fridge before serving. New York cheesecake anyone?


  • When planning your menu make sure each course goes together. You don’t want a rich pâté starter, followed by an indulgent creamy main and then a wickedly dark chocolate fondant for dessert.
  • Cocktails are a great starting point to a party but no one wants to be shaking cocktails for 12 (or more). Lottie says: “If you’re serving a cocktail, mix the base of the drink together in a jug, then you can make the cocktail up like you would a cordial with lots of ice.”


  • Canapés that can be made-ahead and served on a platter for guests to help themselves is cookery assistant Monique’s fail-safe tip when hosting friends: “Always have something ready to eat for when your guests arrive, like Diana Henry’s crostini with white bean puree, as they’re bound to be hungry.”


  • Choose your vibe. Dinner parties don’t have to be stuffy or complicated with perfectly plated courses. Sometimes less is more – a good, hearty one-pot in the middle of the table served with great bread can be just as pleasing as a piece of top-quality beef with perfectly-peeled asparagus. Try this seafood stew or Debbie Major’s baked American-style meatballs – both are always a winner.


  • Let the food do the talking – spending a little more on a good-quality piece of meat, fish or cheese can do wonders for creating something simple but amazing like a classic beef wellington or this baked cheese that uses Ardrahan (available from good cheese counters) to make an incredible sharing starter.


  • It’s the small things – a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a twist of black pepper, a sprinkle of salt, a herb garnish or a dollop of natural yogurt can turn a simple dish into something really special. Just have a variety of condiments and dressings on the table for your guests to help themselves.

If all else fails, or you want to let someone else do the cooking for a change, call on La Belle Assiette. Launched in 2012, they offer private chef services for customers to rediscover the joy of entertaining at home.


You choose the date, time and location of your dinner party and then browse the available chefs and their menus. They then prepare and cook the dishes in your kitchen, serve them to you and clean the kitchen before leaving – hurrah.


The chefs select their own produce and always look for the freshest and highest quality ingredients. You can ask questions, they can demonstrate skills and techniques, and they’ll adjust the menu to create your perfect event.

For more entertaining ideas look here:

More to discover

Subscribe to our magazine

Food stories, skills and tested recipes, straight to your door... Enjoy 5 issues for just £5 with our special introductory offer.


Unleash your inner chef

Looking for inspiration? Receive the latest recipes with our newsletter

We treat your data with care. See our privacy policy. By signing up, you are agreeing to delicious.’ terms and conditions. Unsubscribe at any time.