There's a certain excitement that comes with hosting a dinner party. You've spent hours carefully selecting the perfect menu, meticulously arranging your decor, and setting the table just so. But as your guests begin to arrive, what are the first things they notice? Is it the aroma of the food wafting from the kitchen, the ambiance of the room, or perhaps the warm welcome they receive at the door?
The First 5 Things Guests Notice When You Host a Dinner Party
1. The Atmosphere
According to entertaining expert and author of "The Art of the Host: Recipes and Rules for Flawless Entertaining," Alex Hitz, the first thing guests notice when attending a dinner party is the overall atmosphere of the space.
"The atmosphere is everything," he explains.
"The minute your guests walk in the door, they should feel like they've stepped into a warm and welcoming space that reflects your personal style and personality."
To create the perfect atmosphere, Hitz suggests starting with lighting. "Lighting sets the tone," he says.
"Dimmer switches are a must for creating a warm and inviting ambiance."
In addition to lighting, pay attention to details such as music and scent.
"Soft background music can help set the tone for the evening, while a subtle scent, such as a candle or diffuser, can add a layer of warmth and comfort to the space," advises Hitz.
2. The Table Setting
The next thing guests notice when attending a dinner party is the table setting.
According to etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, author of "Modern Etiquette for a Better Life," the table setting should be both visually appealing and practical.
"A beautiful table setting can make your guests feel special and cared for," she says.
"But it's also important to make sure that the setting is practical for the meal you're serving."
Gottsman suggests starting with a clean and well-maintained tablecloth or placemats.
"Avoid using wrinkled or stained linens," she advises. "A simple yet elegant tablecloth or placemat can set the stage for a beautiful meal."
When it comes to tableware, Gottsman recommends using matching dishes, silverware, and glassware.
"Using mismatched or chipped dishes can detract from the overall aesthetic of the table setting," she explains.
"Make sure that each place setting has all the necessary utensils and glassware for the meal."
3. The Food and Beverage
Of course, the star of the show at any dinner party is the food and beverage.
According to Chef James Briscione, Director of Culinary Development at the Institute of Culinary Education, the first thing guests notice about the food is its aroma.
"When guests walk in the door, they should be greeted with the aroma of the food," he says.
"It should make their mouths water and set the tone for the meal to come."
Briscione also recommends serving a variety of dishes to cater to different tastes and dietary needs.
"It's important to have a mix of flavors and textures on the table," he advises.
"Consider serving a few small plates or appetizers to start, followed by a main course and a few sides."
When it comes to beverages, mixologist, and author of "The One-Bottle Cocktail," Maggie Hoffman, suggests creating a signature cocktail for the evening.
"A signature cocktail can add a fun and personalized touch to the evening," she says.
"Consider using seasonal ingredients or flavors that complement the menu."
4. The Greeting
Etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman, emphasizes the importance of a warm and genuine greeting when hosting a dinner party.
"Greet your guests with a smile and a hug or handshake," she suggests.
"Make them feel like you're genuinely happy to see them."
5. Where to Hang Coats and Bags
Another detail that may not be immediately obvious, but can greatly affect a guest's experience, is the availability of a designated area to hang coats and bags.
"Having a place for guests to easily hang their coats and bags not only keeps the space organized and clutter-free but also makes them feel welcomed and cared for," says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman.
Consider providing a coat rack, hangers, or a designated room or closet for guests to store their belongings during the event.