My Dinner Party Prep List

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My Dinner Party Prep List

This post is sponsored by Bona but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Whether it is hosting dinners or large family dinners, there is a lot of work to be done when entertaining guests. I am sharing My Dinner Party Prep List to help make your event a little easier.


A successful dinner party small or large, begins a month in advance. Plan a theme with a color scheme, set a date and send off invites. Invites in the mail is a thing of the past! Send invites by email or create a Facebook event to keep all your guests up to date with better communication.

Once the invites are sent off and you have a general idea of how many will be attending so you can begin to plan the meal, appetizers, beverages and dessert. This is also the time to pick up decorations and any dishes, kitchen utensils, glassware and so on that will be needed to execute your dinner party. Also, make sure to order any specialty foods… like a cake!

Staying organized will relieve all that dinner party planning stress so begin making shopping lists to write down EVERYTHING. 

Here are some items that should be on the to-do list: 

  • Pick a theme.
  • Set a date and time. Plan on the dinner lasting 3 hours.
  • Invite guests.
  • Pick a color scheme and buy decorations.
  • Order specialty foods.
  • Plan dinner thoroughly and write down all recipes and ingredients needed.
  • Plan and purchase beverages including wine, liquor, mixers, and non-alcoholic choices.
  • Household cleaning with Bona.
  • Household repairs. Do you have a couple light bulbs out or need to repair the bathroom faucet?
  • Flowers.
  • Linen and tablecloths.
  • Yardwork.
  • Pick an outfit and take to dry cleaner if needed.


A week prior to the dinner party, confirm attendance of all your guests to get a final head count. From there, revise your grocery list if needed and begin shopping for non-perishable items.

A lot can get accomplished a week before a dinner party. Do a thorough clean of your entire home, wash and iron all the linens, order flowers, pick up clothes from dry cleaner and make sure yardwork is done and pathways are clear. A new welcome mat and some flower pots could really spruce up the front in no time if the front needs a welcoming facelift. Keep in mind that depending on where you live, you may want to inform your neighbors of your upcoming event as a courtesy so they are understanding of all the extra cars and noise during the party.


Start the morning with a quick house cleaning. Sure a deep clean was done a week prior, but you want a clean home for guests to visit so the day before the party, you have minimal cleaning to do. This includes cleaning the toilets, sweeping the front walkway and mopping the floors.

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What else needs done the day prior? 

Complete that to-do list! Pick up flowers and any specialty order, go grocery shopping for the perishable items and whatever else is left to get. If there is anything you can prep before-hand, do it today! Great items to do ahead of time include making sauces, desserts, homemade doughs for bread, chopping vegetables and get out all the pots, pans and serving platters needed. Labeling each with what they will be used for will help to keep you organized.

I also recommend setting up your dinner table and drink station, along with all the decorations. Accomplish this before bedtime so you have time to spend on all those little details like perfectly folded napkins, gorgeous flower arrangements, utensil placement and if you did forget something (yikes, maybe you are a plate short!), there is time the next morning to go grab a last minute item.


The day of party is focused on completing any last minute tasks in the morning along followed by showering and getting dressed.

Then, the fun can begin. Depending on what you are serving, the day could vary but I typically get in the kitchen 2 hours before guests arrive to prep, organize and begin cooking. 20 minutes before guests arrive, check to make sure outdoor lights are on and that the beverage area is fully stocked and ready to serve. For beverages, try and make it self serve so you don’t have to play bartender all night. This means making cocktails by the pitcher for guests to pour or having instructions out on how to make their own cocktail.

Once guests begin arriving, direct them to the beverages and time the appetizers to go be served 30 minutes later. This is perfect timing for guests to have a cocktail and socialize a bit while you finish cooking dinner.

Take your time in the kitchen to get the food perfect. All the guests are entertained with cocktails and appetizers so there is no stress but plan on dinner being served one hour after guests arrival. Desserts can be served immediately after dinner or as part of the after dinner cocktail hour where the event comes to an end.


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