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Dinner parties are a favorite amongst people young and old. They are a great opportunity to invite friends over and enjoy some delicious food, tasty wine, and friendly company. If you are hosting a dinner party, you may not know where to start. Follow this guide to create a dinner party menu that gets a round of applause from your guests.

Step 1: Consider Dietary Restrictions

Before anything else, you must consider who is coming to your party and what needs they have. In some cases, a guest may have a food allergy or sensitivity. In others, you may have a vegan guest, or someone who follows religious rules for their food. Ask your guests before planning your menu to ensure everyone is accounted for.

Step 2: Decide On Courses

Although everyone would love to have the time and energy to produce a delicious 7-course meal, it simply is not feasible for most. Three courses is a good amount for any casual dinner party, so when in doubt, go with an appetizer, entree, and dessert. This is also the amount of courses I will talk about in this article.

Step 3: Choose The Entree

The main course of a meal should be something you are great at cooking. Perhaps you can nail steak temperatures, or you have a knack for wrapping dumplings. Whatever the case is, start by thinking about your entree, as your other courses will build off of this. Again, be sure to consider all dietary preferences, and if needed, create two alternative versions of the same course — one for guests with no restrictions and one for guests with them.

Step 3: Consider The Appetizer

If your main course is going to be a hearty one (think steak and potatoes, noodle-based dishes, etc.), you should start off with a light first course. A salad is not a bad choice, as is a light soup. You may even want to stick to a cold starter to avoid the feeling of fullness that comes from warm food.

Step 4: Remember Dessert

Dessert is practically a necessity at a dinner party, so don’t forget to be mindful about it. If you are going to be eating dessert shortly after the main course, consider going with a lighter option, such as sorbet. If there will be a break, you can choose to bake something more hefty, such as a pie.

Step 5: Reflect On Palate

If you have some ideas for each course, think about how the flavor palate will work together. If the flavors are likely to clash, you should try looking for alternatives within the same style of cuisine or flavor family. Although distinct flavors are not a bad thing, if they clash too much, it can lead to an upset stomach, and will certainly take away from the experience.

Step 6: Pair Your Alcohol

Dinner parties can be had without alcohol, but if you will be imbibing, you need to think about which alcohol pairs appropriately with your courses. Your guests may not care outwardly, but it does make a big difference when you are enjoying your meal.

A dinner party can be a major undertaking. When planning one, make sure to follow these steps so you have a menu you can be proud of.