If you're like most people who've recently finished school and are just getting started on a professional career, you've probably hosted gatherings and parties in your home or college residence, but you may have no experience with throwing elegant, special-occasion dinner parties. Whether you've offered to host one and have no idea of how to proceed or you are considering hosting one but are concerned that your party won't be up to par because you've never thrown an elegant soiree before. Fortunately, it's not nearly as hard as it looks if you know a few secrets. Following are three strategies designed to ensure smooth sailing concerning your special-occasion gathering.
Go With a Tried-and-True Menu
The biggest mistake most people make when throwing an upscale dinner party is deciding to serve a complicated main dish, and they often scour culinary websites and magazines looking for something suitably sophisticated. However, sticking with something they already know how to make helps ensure that last minute mishaps don't crop up during party preparations. If you roast a mean chicken, plan on serving that instead of something you've never cooked before. If you've got your heart set on a certain entree that you don't have much experience with, do a trial run before the big day so that you can work out any possible kinks in the kitchen.
Create a Playlist in Advance
Fumbling with the music throughout the course of the gathering is a sure way to create multiple moments of awkwardness, so create your playlist in advance and let the music take care of itself. Classical music provides an added layer of polish to any gathering of adults, but if that's truly not your style, choose something else — but keep in mind that whatever music you decide on is meant to provide background ambiance and not be the star of the show.
Use a Professionally Arranged Centerpiece
You probably already know that a special-occasion dinner requires using your best dinnerware and silverware, an attractive tablecloth, and tapered candles in elegant candlesticks. However, the table won't look fully dressed if you don't provide a lovely floral arrangement as a finishing touch. A professionally arranged centerpiece will complement your dining room decor and may even make a statement about the food you're serving. For instance, if you've treating guests to your special version of rosemary chicken, you may want a centerpiece that includes a few sprigs of rosemary. Be sure to tell your florist what kind of food you'll be serving, the type of dinnerware you'll be using, and the overall decor scheme of your dining room to ensure a flower arrangement that sets everything off perfectly.