Whether you’re hosting a movie night or a dinner, there’s a series of steps you can take to ensure your guests remember it for all the right reasons. If you’re a novice (or simply want some confirmation that you’re on the right track), here’s how to pull off the perfect night in…
Start by making a list of everything you need, and shopping for it the day ahead of your event. That will help to keep your stress levels to an absolute minimum, and will ensure you’ve left yourself a full day to run to the shops to get whatever it is you end up forgetting.
Choose your menu carefully
Whether you’re just having friends over for a movie night or are entertaining a crowd for dinner, you’re going to be serving food of some sort. If it’s the former, make sure you’ve stocked up on all the traditional movie night essentials such as popcorn and other tasty snacks. But if you’re hosting a dinner party? You’re going to need to do it properly.
A dinner party is no time to try out a new recipe, so do yourself a favour by cooking your signature dish – if you’re a pro at rustling up spaghetti and meatballs, don’t be afraid to serve steaming mountains of the meal. Make your meatballs and sauce ahead of time, ensure your water is hot and well-salted, and just spent 10 minutes in the kitchen cooking your pasta and plating it up when it’s time to eat.
Ensure you have plenty of side dishes – even if it’s just a great salad and some garlic bread – as well as something to cater for any dietary requirements your guests might have. And remember – it’s better to overfeed your guests than have any of them go hungry.
Chill your wine
There’s nothing more theatrical than swinging open the French doors on your fridge to reveal the stash of wine you’ve been chilling all day, so plan well ahead of time by cooling down your white wine and beer ahead of guests arriving. Don’t forget to chill some soft drinks too, as it’s likely someone will be drinking lemonade or Diet Coke.
Spruce up your space
Again, before your guests arrive, take a few hours to spruce up your space. You’ll be a much more relaxed host if you’re not kicking things under the sofa or apologising for the state of the kitchen if you’ve given it the once-over. So, do the little things you’ll be grateful for later: empty the dishwasher so it’s good to go when you need it, and take the bin out so you have a fresh liner for the night. If you’re hosting a film night, make sure the sofa is clean and that the cushions are well-plumped up.
Lay out snacks on your coffee table
Snacks are a great idea, as not only will they stave off hunger, they’ll also soak up the alcohol your guests are drinking. So, fill up your coffee table with crisps, nuts, olives and anything else that’s easy to pour into a bowl. Then, on a corner table, set out wine, beer, a corkscrew and some glasses: let your guests know they can help themselves in case you forget to top everyone up.
Have a loosely structured plan
Are you planning on serving dinner in your open plan kitchen diner? Will you be staying at the table for card games and wine afterwards? Or are you retiring to the living room for a movie? Have some idea of what’s happening next. But, don’t worry about making the night perfect: someone often ends up sharing YouTube videos if they come across a laptop, so just let it flow.
Leave the tidying until tomorrow
Finally, don’t let your guests lift a finger (unless they’re related to you). And try to leave the mess until the morning, or at least until your guests have gone – they won’t appreciate feeling like they’re cluttering up your home, and this kind of etiquette goes a long way in making a positive lasting impression.
Armed with these tips, you should be ready to host the perfect night in. Do you have any suggestions of your own to add?