We all want to make a good impression when hosting a dinner party and the secret behind a successful one and a shambles is proper planning.

If this is your first dinner party, or you’re not a regular host, there are many factors to consider when it comes to planning a successful event. Is it going to be formal or informal? Will you have a theme? Who will you invite? Do you need to put on entertainment? All of this you will need to consider, and the most important one of them all, the menu.

A good menu is essential in the success of your dinner party. You want your guests to be talking about your food long after the event has taken place, and only in a good way. This doesn’t mean it has be Jamie Oliver standard, sometimes keeping it simple works best and less can be more. Recipes from the Caterer are a really useful resource, while below are some top tips to help you design the perfect menu for your dinner party needs:

Don’t be too ambitious

It is wise to choose recipes that you already have experience with cooking or feel confident about to avoid any last minute disasters. It is also important to choose foods that are fairly easy to prepare so you’re not spending too much time sweating in the kitchen and can enjoy the party with your guests.

Cater for everyone
Make sure you ask everyone if they have specific dietary requirements well ahead of the dinner party to avoid the risk of watching someone picking bits of chicken out of your curry.

Offer a selection of drinks

Not everyone at your party will be drinking alcohol so be sure to offer a wide selection of drinks. If you’re going to serve wine at your dinner party, make sure it complements the food you are serving. According to The Independent, selecting the perfect Bordeaux for dinner parties has become a competitive sport, with many British men using their choice of wine to score points with their guests. The study, by Côtes du Rhône Wines, of 1,500 people, found that over a quarter (28 per cent) of men consciously serve wines to their guests that are designed to create an impression.

Get fully prepared
To fully maximise the time you get with your guests, prepare as much as you can beforehand by chopping vegetables, pre-measuring ingredients, preparing the equipment and setting the table.

Relax and enjoy it
Try and relax otherwise your mood will rub off on your guests. Now you can forget about all of those hours you’ve spent preparing and enjoy the delicious food and good company! According to a recent poll in The Telegraph, throwing a dinner party is considered to be more stressful than going to work. The study, by After Eight mints, found that 57 per cent of people find entertaining friends more nerve-racking than commuting to work, while a quarter said it was more testing than a job interview! Try and avoid that kind of experience and remember that a dinner party is meant to be a friendly and sociable occasion.