The key to hosting a successful and low-stress dinner party lies with the prep, and the more you can do ahead of time, the happier you’ll be; I’m a firm believer that happy hosts yield joyful guests. In this episode, we share 3 delectable dinner party menus with an emphasis on recipes that can be made ahead of time giving you ample time to be the incredible host or hostess you are!

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Having hosted many gatherings, I can safely say that the more you can do ahead of your guests’ arrival, the happier you’ll be.

Selecting a theme focused on a specific region or country’s cuisine can also be a fun way to get your guests excited and engaged in the planning process.

In this episode, Tara and I discuss 3 region-inspired dinner party menus featuring recipes that for the most part, can be made prior to your guests’ arrival. Feel free to use these menus to plan your next dinner party, or tweak them however you see fit.

Happy hosting!

French-Inspired Menu

The French-inspired dinner party menu includes an appetizer of tomato confit served with crusty bread, a selection of cheese, and fresh grapes.

French onion soup shines as the first course and is followed by Beef Bourguignon which can be served with baguette, or roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

Overhead shot of spoon holding tomato garlic confit over pan.

Italian-Inspired Menu

Inspired by some of our favorite Italian food, this menu includes an appetizer of stuffed mushrooms, cannellini bean dip, or roasted cherry tomato crostini with whipped ricotta served alongside the epic Italian aperitivo, the Aperol Spritz.

The main course features my short rib ragu served with pappardelle and plenty of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and finishes with a mixed green salad with shallot vinaigrette.

Overhead shot of four blue crocks with baked French onion soup on baking sheet.

American-Inspired Menu

The American menu includes a few of our tried and true favorites, starting with spinach artichoke dip and shrimp cocktail.

A simple soup, such as butternut squash soup, makes a wonderful first course which is then followed by classic pot roast with carrots and potatoes.


Feel free to enlist the help of your guests when it comes to the drinks and desserts!

Letting them know you’re having a theme can help them decide what to bring.

For example, if going with the French-inspired menu, your guests may wish to stay on theme and bring some French pastries.

If you prefer to make dessert yourself, any of these recipes would be excellent:

If you enjoyed The Savvy Host’s Plan for the Ultimate Dinner Party episode, leave us a comment below and let us know!  

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  1. Pam L says:

    Enjoyed this episode! Short rib ragu is one of our “go-to” entertaining dishes! I’m imagine each episode takes a lot of planning, but would love it if you could do one for summer entertaining.


  2. Pat Bart says:

    Just made your recipe for chicken and potatoes. It was delicious , so tasted and savory. Next time I would use less oil.I also added more sliced onions in addition to the chopped in the recipe. All your recipes have been great! Easy to follow! Thanks🌶

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Pat, thanks for the comment. It would be awesome if you could leave this same comment on the post for chicken and potatoes so others who are planning to make that recipe can see that comment. This comment came through for Podcast 26.