It often happens – you’ll agree to host a dinner party or have some friends over and then realise that you don’t actually have that much time to put on a fancy three-course meal while also making sure that your home is presentable and that you look great too. Fortunately for you, there are some solutions out there in case you find yourself short on time when you’re expecting to host a stand-out dinner party. Take a look at some of the suggestions below that could save you time but still help you pull off the best dinner-party ever.

Ask everyone to bring a side dish

This is a bit of a sneaky tip, but it’ll help you out when you’re short on time as it leaves you to just focus on the main. A meat cut that you know how to cook and season well (an easy roast beef recipe for example) can just sit in the oven while you get on with other things, and with your friends bringing the side dishes, you’ll have far less food to prepare. This is a good alternative to asking them to bring wine, but make sure you’ve got plenty in stock as a thank you for bringing the food.

Tapas is the the cuisine de jour

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When it comes to hosting a dinner party, you can get a bit creative with the foods you serve to save you having to slave away in the kitchen. When you’re short on time, tapas can actually be a lifesaver and will make your dinner party a much more sociable occasion. There are some great tapas recipes you can make in advance, and can freeze some items so that they’re ready when you need them. You can cheat a little here and buy some ready-made tapas dishes, and simply add in some seasoned meat pieces, some cheese and you’ll have a great spread that people will love.

Opt for an easier dessert

Dessert is the dish that many people panic over, but you can find your way around having to bake something in the oven that will risk getting burnt and may not come out as you’d expect. A no bake chocolate cake is a great idea as it is something you can prepare and then leave to set as opposed to worrying about it cooling before decorating and the other baking disasters that might befall you!

Go barbecue!

Depending on the weather or time of year, you can change your dinner party from a more formal sit down affair to a fun barbecue, even if you have to grill your meat in the kitchen! All this will entail is a good selection of meats and all the trimmings, and you can simply prepare while your guests are waiting. This is a great idea if the weather is good and it will just look like you’re being spontaneous rather than avoiding a stint in the kitchen!

If you’re looking for a simple but delicious dish that dinner party guests will love, then this caramelised onion, pumpkin and feta tart is a good go-to dish. Handling a dinner party is all about practice and knowing what you can commit to. At the end of the day, your guests will care far more about seeing you and being in your company, so if it does all go wrong, you’ll have some good memories to laugh about for years to come.