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7 Tips for Hosting a Birthday Dinner Without Losing Your Mind

Whether you're the birthday celebrant or you're planning a surprise, here's how you can have fun doing it while staying sane

Posted on

28 August 2019

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7 Tips for Hosting a Birthday Dinner Without Losing Your Mind

Planning a birthday dinner party sounds like a great idea... until it starts to feel like a lot

It's 9 PM, your house is full of guests using your sofa arms as a coaster, you can't find an extra spot to hang your friend's coat, and the roast is still in the oven. If you're the celebrant, this is when you might feel the stress kicking in. Even more so if you're the one who planned a surprise birthday dinner - you've got a clock ticking down to make sure everything's perfect for when that door opens, everyone shouts on cue "Surprise!" and the birthday guy or gal smiles in complete, taken off guard happiness.

Here, we break down seven tips to prep for a birthday dinner party without blowing your cool. After all, the best host is the one who actually enjoys the party.

1.) Pick a theme and work with it

It might sound restrictive, but setting a theme before organising everything else will actually help you find a gentle guideline to get the planning going. Super helpful for those who tend to be indecisive.

If you're the host, plan it around something the birthday celebrant usually enjoys. Do they go for trivia night every Thursday before the weekend? Consider incorporating that activity into the birthday dinner. If you're the celebrant, apply the same. For example, do you usually eat sushi as a rare, great-job-at-work treat? That could easily be "Japanese Vacation" or "Oriental Dinner" - easier for your friends to know how to dress for the occasion, too.

Pick a focus theme, and even if you stray from it, you would have a good place to start.

2.) Your home isn't a restaurant

So let go of the pressure that you feel you need to turn it into one. As it's a birthday dinner, you've likely only invited close friends and family. Use your house to your advantage - prop out some pillows for guests to sit on if there aren't enough chairs or serve beverages with mugs.

3.) Enlist help

Helps with reducing your workload and it also transforms the dinner planning into a group effort. Ask your friends to bring their homemade sauce, cook their best dessert, or buy ice. There are heaps of ways friends can contribute to the dinner party.

4.) Give clear instructions in the invitation

Be clear on the theme, what the dress code is, when to arrive, and where they can park - it'll save any awkward moments if a guest shows up in sweats to a semi-formal dinner party.

If it's a surprise birthday dinner

Perhaps the biggest obstacle in planning a birthday dinner for someone is ensuring that the guests zip their lips. It should be clear in the party invitation or group text message that it's a surprise and no information should be leaked to the guest of honour.

So the celebrant isn't suspicious, give precise instructions on what time to arrive (ideally half an hour before the guest of honour) and where to park their cars.

5.) Keep the menu simple

Try and cook one to two of your specialty items yourself, and have the rest purchased or catered. As the host, you can't be slaving in the kitchen when all your friends arrive - prepare the dishes can much as you can beforehand and opt for crowd-pleasers to keep their stomach happy until it's dinner time.

Stock up on plenty of paper cups and have drinks ready in pitchers rather than serving them as they're asked for.

6.) Do it ahead

Whether it's decorating the house, setting the table, or prepping foods that can sit in the fridge overnight, try to tick off as much as you can on your to-do list.

Tackle the decor a few days prior, especially if you're ordering stuff online.

7.) Don't sweat it

Eh, so what if the dog ate the birthday cake or the surprise was spoiled? As the planner for a surprise birthday dinner, you've still done a super thoughtful thing - the guest of honour will appreciate the effort you put and your friends put into it.

As the celebrant hosting the dinner - even if you follow the best-laid plan to a tee, sometimes some glitch gets in the way. You’ve put your heart and soul into this amazing dinner party, so relax and enjoy your special day.