I think it’s safe to say that most people find hosting a dinner party to be a daunting task. There’s so many moving parts, you’re cooking more dishes than your kitchen has space for, and half of the cooking happens while you’re also trying to entertain guests in your home. Since planning of any sort is kind of my jam, I’ve created a system to make the process a breeze and be sure nothing falls through the cracks.
You can download the full template here, but here’s a quick summary of how I use it.
The first tab consists of the dinner menu, along with the corresponding recipes. Since most of my recipes are saved online these days, I input a link, or at the very least a note to reference exactly what it is I’m planning to make. This summary helps to ensure you have a complete menu planned and is a great starting point for the rest of your prep.
After reviewing each of the recipes, this tab is where I compile lists of exactly what ingredients I need to buy for each dish. Creating a view to see all of the dishes next to each other makes it easy to see if there’s any ingredients that crossover multiple dishes so I can be sure to buy enough.
This is the step that may seem a little overkill to some, but I swear it makes life so much easier. By planning out exactly what cookware and serveware I will use for each dish, I can be efficient in creating fewer dishes and not have to scramble to find a platter for something at the last minute. There’s nothing worse than discovering you need to wash a baking sheet in order to cook your next dish or dig your less-used serving platters out of storage.
The schedule is where the fun really begins. If you’re a little crazy, like me, you’ll actually add line items for each tiny to do, like sweeping leaves off your front steps. At a minimum, list out the major steps that need to be completed for each dish. A typical dinner will likely only require some prep the day before, but if you’re planning a large Thanksgiving feast, add on schedules for each of the days leading up so you can break up the work. Everything that can be done ahead, should be done ahead. By specifying time frames to complete each step on the day-of, you can be realistic about how much you can get done, and you won’t risk starting a dish too late or double booking your oven.
The holiday season is upon us, so I hope each and every one of you has the opportunity to boldly offer to host a dinner this year!