Tips to Successfully Timing Your Dinner Party Menu

Hosting a dinner party can sound like a daunting task — especially when it comes to successfully timing your dinner party menu so all the food is cooked and comes out at the right temperature!  However, with a few simple tips and following some suggested guidelines, you can have your full menu ready before no time. In the end, the great conversation and new friends made will make hosting a DinDin Party worth it! So don’t stress over how you are going to prepare all the food, keep it warm, and enjoy yourself. We’re here to give you tips on successfully timing your dinner party menu.

Successfully Timing Your Dinner Party Appetizers

Cheese plate Assortment of various types of cheese on wooden cutting board

To avoid cooking every single item on your menu, opt for cold appetizers. You can put together an amazing cheese platter with olives and fresh fruit for your guests to munch on while playing an icebreaker game. During the first 15 minutes of your dinner party, it is acceptable to serve light hors-d’oeuvres while the main course finishes cooking. Your guests would rather spend time getting to know one another and have a hot dinner than food sitting out waiting for everyone to arrive.

Successfully Timing Your Dinner Party Entrees. Key Tip – Explore Various Cooking Methods.

When preparing a full dinner for a group, it can require a lot of cooking. If you are hosting a four-course meal then you may need to get creative in timing each dish. Instead of letting the main course come out of the oven and sit while you put the side dishes in to bake, try using different cooking methods for each recipe.


If the weather permits, use the grill. You can cook just about any meat on a grill, beyond the original barbecue. The grill is not limited to only cooking meat. You can grill any size veggie by using skewers or placing foil on the grill rack. Corn cobs are a great side dish to grill – add some seasoning and make a street corn recipe!


There are countless recipes to use in a slow-cooker. You can make anything from stews and soups to baked potatoes and desserts. This will require you to start cooking earlier in the day but the beauty of using a slow-cooker is you can set it and walk off. Start your main course in the slow-cooker and then clean house and decorate for your party. Dinner is usually ready within three to six hours depending on what you are preparing.

Pressure Cooker

The Instant Pot has become quite popular lately. You can find many recipes on Pinterest for best dinner menu ideas using a pressure cooker. The great thing about it, you can cook a chicken in under 30 minutes! So if your oven and stovetop are tied up, pull out the pressure cooker and finish dinner without the worry of your food getting cold.

Stovetop + Oven

The stovetop and oven are still the most traditional way to cook dinner. To best utilize your oven, try arranging your cooking racks to hold as many dishes as possible. Once the final recipe has cooked in the oven, set the temperature to keep your dishes warm.

Try your best to time your meals so they are done and ready to serve within ten to fifteen minutes of your guests arriving. This gives everyone a chance to say hello, make introductions, and take their seat without the food going cold.

Keeping It Warm

By using different cooking methods to prepare each dish, you can successfully plan your entire meal to be done around the same time. However, if you have one item coming out before the next then we suggest purchasing warming trays or plate warmers. You can pick up electrical ones or stay frugal purchasing the disposable foil casserole trays with tea light candles underneath. These can be found at any grocery store for a couple of dollars.

Another option is to use your oven or warming drawer to hold your main course until you are ready to serve it.

Successfully Timing Your Dinner Party Desserts

You can make almost every dessert recipe in advance. For instance, you can make cakes and pies the day before your dinner party. If you want to serve your pie warm, pop it in the oven for a few minutes to heat back up. Another option is to set up a dessert bar by buying several smaller desserts from a local bakery for guests to select from. After cooking a full meal, do not feel guilty for buying the dessert either —  you may want a break from the kitchen.

After Dinner Cocktails and Coffee Bar

After Dinner Cocktails

Do not feel obligated to have cocktails and coffee for after dinner prepared before your guests arrive. As everyone is finishing their dessert and enjoying good conversation, you can turn on the coffee pot. For after dinner cocktails, set up a cocktail bar before guests arrive and let people select their drinks. You never know, you may have a mixologist in attendance that enjoys sharing their tips!

Do not fret over preparing an amazing dinner for your guests. Relax, try some of our tips by planning your menu in advance, and enjoy yourself. The whole mission of DinDin Party is to make new friends and have an enjoyable experience around the dinner table.


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Tips to Successfully Timing Your Dinner Party Menu