A guide to hosting a dinner at home
Planning the date
To begin with, pick a date and time (lunch, dinner, or a high tea) you that you think might be convenient for you and everyone else.
If it's dinner, choose a date that is on the eve of a holiday so that even if the party goes on till late, everyone can take it easy the next morning.
Think about all those you might want to invite. Then make sure that the guests will mingle well and be comfortable with each other. They may not know each other, but might enjoy making new friends and likeminded people.
Also think of the maximum number you can invite and handle. Consider space and kitchen work load etc.
Send out invitations at least a week to ten days before the dinner date. This way your guests will be able to plan out the week to come and make sure they can attend your dinner.
Also this gives you enough time to invite others, if someone drops out.
While inviting people over, do ask if they have any preferences, dos and don'ts where food is concerned - vegan, vegetarian, etc.
If you're inviting children, ask for their preferences too.
Prepping for the party night
Start 2 days before party night
Decide the menu. Include, 2 veggies, a gravy, breads and rice, a side snack, crudités or a salad and a dessert.
Decide what you want to serve and make a shopping list for cooking.
Once that's done, go over the other prep - do you need napkins? flowers? hand towels?, glass ware, snacks with drinks, wines, beer etc? Room and bathroom freshners? Go over these and simply add them to your shopping list. That way, you will be able to do all in one go. Except for flowers and ingredients like "paneer", you can do most shopping two days ahead of the dinner date.
If you have brassware around on consoles and buffets, polish it now.
The day before
Kitchen and table prep
You don't want to look tired and you certainly want to have a great time with your guests at dinner. So, prep a day in advance.
Start with cleaning up the fridge. This will make place for the prepped food.
Partially prepare the dishes: Some the dishes can be partially prepared. For instance, you can get curries and salad dressings, sauces and chutneys done ahead of time.
I usually make the dessert a day before, leaving it to be decorated on the dinner night.
Clean and chop vegetables and store them away in air tight boxes in the fridge.
Prepare and mix the dry ingredients for dishes.
Then stock up on ice. Check if the corkscrew and shaker and stirrers are put in place and the bar is neat and tidy. Wash and wipe clean the glass ware.
You may want to keep music ready too.
Drawing room prep
Make sure the drawing room is swept, mopped and furniture has been dusted with particular attention. Declutter! Put away books and stationary, keys and notes lying around. Do this the previous day as it will be a hassle to do it on the D-day.
Buy your flowers and do the arrangements.
Finish cooking in the morning.
Leave the afternoon to lay out the table and do the seating arrangements - extra chairs and stools, teepoys etc.
Now time to have a shower, get into your party wear, make-up and all and you're set to receive your guests and have a great evening!