For your guests to enjoy the dinner they need to feel that you are relaxed. The key to this is to be organized and prepared. No matter how much you prepare before they event, things may come up that will require you to adapt and be flexible in order to maximize your guests’ experience.

Consider some people may show up early so if you can, try to be ready for your guests a half hour before they are expected to arrive. This will allow for you to go over your aspects of the dinner. Go through the motions of what equipment you will need for every part of your experience. Do a small role-play in your head. You’ll find there might be a situation where a spoon out here, or a knife out there will limit steps to make as you go. The goal is to minimize the amount of movements you need to make to free up as much time as possible to enjoy your guests.


Here are some general tips and advice to assist you.

How do you feel about mood lighting?

Certain lights represent specific moods. If you’re having a dinner in a backyard at night, consider lighting around seating areas and spots where you want to highlight your backyard, guide to your washroom or around steps.

If you don’t have a dimmer switch for bright lighting, it’s a good idea to use table lamps and candles in your dining area as an alternative. While you want your guests to be able to see properly, it is best to avoid harsh, bright lighting in all areas of your home (including hallways and the restroom) unless you’re heading a workshop. Sometimes Mother Nature can be your best mood-setter. The beauty of sunlight for lunch through a large window or beaming on a picnic table is one of the greatest times to share food and one of life’s simplest pleasures.

Do you have pets?

Not everyone is a pet person. In addition, for sanitary reasons, it’s a good idea to keep pets away from your food space for the duration of the dinner. Pet hair has a tendency to float around and you don’t want that as part of your meal. Having said that, if your guests specifically ask to see or interact with your pets, you should certainly allow it, but only in a manner that is respectful of other guests and away from the food being served.

House rules?

Do you ask that guests remove their shoes before you enter your home? If so, a small, tasteful sign at your entrance is a good idea. Do you allow smoking in your backyard or outside area? If so, provide an ashtray or some other type of disposal container. Cell phone use is another area where reasonable expectations should be outlined. While it is understandable that people may need to have their phones on in case of an emergency, in the interest of maintaining “A Taste of Togetherness”, it is a good idea to ask guests to refrain from using their phones at the table while your meal is being served (with the exception of taking pictures of your awesome food, of course). Remember, we all want our guests to connect with each other while enjoying your meal, rather than staring at their phones while their meal gets cold.  

Establish and express reasonable ground rules and express them in a kind, welcoming manner. This will not only help your guests feel comfortable, it will help you feel in control, relaxed and respected in your space.

Preparation before your event is the key to success:

Some people thrive off of the eleventh hour of decision making and work best under pressure, but we don’t recommend it for in-home dining experiences or hosting a pop-up. We suggest making a list of key points and breaking those down. Write and review a list of the food, music, cost, date, guests and timeline.  Organize it in a way that is clear and concise to maximize your profit and success, while giving your guests a positive and welcoming experience.

Every meal you host will most likely teach you something new and important from which you can learn and grow. Make notes on each experience, and use this knowledge to your advantage for future event planning.

Kitchen table talk:

As with any social get together, people discussing politics or religion, as a rule, is never a good idea. People have different thoughts and ideas on these subjects and the dinner table is not generally a good place to discuss them. If you notice conversation heading in that direction, best to nip it in the bud in a light hearted manner and change the topic as soon as possible.

No matter how much you prepare for your event, there may be times when unexpected situations arise. Be at peace with this, don’t let such issues frazzle or upset you. Remain calm, address them directly and as soon as possible, handle unforeseen issues with grace and professionalism and carry on as planned- you’ll be fine, we promise 🙂

  • Dana Miele