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Getting Your Dinner Party Right with a Fun Timeline


At Least 3 Weeks Out

  • Set a date for your party.
  • Gather names, addresses and phone numbers, and mail invitations.

at least 2 weeks out

  • Plan the menu – choose a mix of easy and more challenging recipes, depending on your skill level.
  • Study each recipe you choose to make a schedule for preparation. That way, you can do as much of the prep work in the days leading up to your dinner party. If you’re working from Joey Altman’s book Without Reservations, you can follow his handy guide for what can be made ahead and what’s easy.
  • Make sure you choose foods that will be in season on the day of your party so that you know you’ll be able to find everything easily.

2 weeks out

  • Shop for any serveware or glassware needed.
  • Think about how you’ll decorate the dining table, and shop for a few elements, like candles, chargers and linens, that will make place settings look unique and set a welcoming mood.
  • Begin planning a music playlist for the event - or, borrow from ours!

10 days out

  • Decide on a refreshing drink to serve guests when they arrive.
  • Gather RSVPs and follow up with anyone who hasn’t been in touch.
  • Determine how many guests you’ll have and adjust recipes so they’ll yield the right amount of food.

1 week out

  • Shop for non-perishable food items, beverages, etc. Gather serveware.

3 days out

  • Shop for perishable food items.

2 days out

  • Go over your timing for food prep the following day, and write out a clear schedule. Build in some extra time so you have time to relax before guests arrive.

day before

  • Begin food prep according to your schedule.
  • Set up for the party. Decorate, arrange chairs, etc.

day of

  • Prep last-minute food items according to your schedule.
  • Arrange flowers.
  • Get before-dinner drink ready for serving – and start sipping yourself!
  • Relax and get in the spirit of celebrating!