Kitchen Essentials for a Great Dinner Party

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love hosting, and those who would rather be doing anything else. The people who fall into the latter camp often focus on the potential snafus that can occur while they’re hosting a party, rather than the fun everyone will have.

But even if there are snafus, and there very well could be, the fun usually more than makes up for them. Hosting a dinner party is a great way to reconnect with old friends or get to know new ones better. It’s also the perfect opportunity to introduce your friends to each other, giving them the chance to have conversations they might not have otherwise. Just be sure not to invite two colleagues who are notoriously hostile, or two exes who haven’t spoken in a year!

Before you host a dinner party, be sure to stock up on these items. When issues arise, they usually come from not having everything you need.

Dinner Party Checklist

Give yourself enough time before your dinner party to collect these items.

All your ingredients. Of course, the key component of a dinner party, besides the guests, is dinner. Shop the day before for all your ingredients, and if a recipe calls for something that you’re pretty sure you have, like sugar, double check to confirm that you do have it.

If you’ll be serving wine, beer, and/or cocktails, stock up on those items the day before too. The same goes for hors d’oeuvres and dessert, but don’t stress about either of those. Offering something simple to start and end the night — like cheese and crackers to start, and a fruit platter for dessert — lets you focus on the main dish.

All the kitchen items you need to prepare every dish. One of the first things you should do as soon as you decide to have a dinner party is to assess whether your kitchen is missing any important tools. Give yourself enough time to purchase anything that’s missing.

Here’s a quick list of dinner-party good-to-haves for the kitchen. You may not need them all, depending on what you’re making, but they’ll probably come in handy sooner rather than later.

  • Knife set with an array of knives, including a chef’s knife and a paring knife
  • Cutting board
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Skillet, saucepan, and large pot

For more recommendations, check out our blog article on kitchen essentials.

Read every recipe from start to finish before you go shopping, so if need be, you still have time to grab that whisk you meant to buy months ago.

Serving items. Do you have the following? If not, add them to the shopping list.

  • Wine glasses, beer glasses, water glasses, corkscrew, bottle opener
  • Small plates for hors d’oeuvres, side dishes, and/or dessert, and large plates for entrées (you may need bowls as well)
  • Cutlery, including a serrated knife for cutting bread and steak knives if you’re serving steak or another thick protein
  • Napkins
  • Serving utensils, such as salad tongs, a carving knife set, or a serving set with a large spoon, large fork, and pierced spoon
  • Serving dishes
  • Anything else to create a pleasant ambiance, such as candles or a low-key floral centerpiece

Music. If you love playing DJ, a dinner party is an excellent excuse to put together a playlist of the music you love. Just be mindful of what guests will enjoy listening to as they eat (no death metal, please). Alternatively, Spotify and Apple Music have pre-made dinner party playlists with a nice range of genres.

Happy hosting!