14 Tips for Hosting a
Dinner in a Restaurant

Restaurant Dinner Party

Hosting a dinner comes with a good bit of responsibility.  The primary goal of a great host is making your guests feel welcome and comfortable.  The more orderly and specific your approach, the more likely your guests will feel at ease from the start to the end of dinner.  

Entertaining at a restaurant calls for particular attention to detail.  But the “pre-work” will make it worth it. Whether you are hosting a candidate interview, a business lunch or a dinner with associates, or a milestone occasion, here is a list of fourteen items to help you host the most wonderful dinner party at a restaurant (or other venue).

14 Hosting Details

  1. Have a clear purpose in mind.
    Most importantly, the reason for the occasion and how to celebrate it so that everyone has a great time.
  2. Choose the appropriate venue.
    Make certain the restaurant you choose can accommodate the size of your guest list, the menu you have in mind, a private dining area if necessary.  If you’re hosting a smaller group, get a consensus on the type of food all will enjoy.  A convenient location should be a main consideration.  Work with the restaurant manager regarding your purpose and seating preferences.
  3. Invite your guests.
    Be sure and include helpful details such as parking information and other possible factors to consider arriving on time.  Re-confirm the event arrangements the day of. 
  4. Decide on your approach to the menu and drinks.
    Work with restaurant staff to decide if pre-ordering a selection of wine or menu items is best, or if each guest will order for themselves from the standard menu.  If a group meal is ordered, be sure that guests have a choice of their main course.  (This may be done via email.)
  5. Arrange seamless payment of the bill ahead of time.
    This may mean providing a form of payment ahead of time or giving your credit card to your service staff at an appointed time before the end of the meal.
  6. Greet your guests.
    Arrive early! Greet your guest(s) in the lobby or reception area and then proceed to your table.  If guests were instructed in the invitation to proceed to a private dining room, greet them at the entrance there.
  7. Suggest a seating order.
    Before guests sit down at the table, guide persons in their seating.  In your planning, sketch out a seating plan and have it in mind to avoid confusion.  Ideally, the host should sit with high visibility of the group and server entrance area, and will have sketched out the seating arrangements ahead of time so that the seating is easy.  If only one or two guests are present, the host should be generous in directing to the “best” seats.
  8. Welcome your guests.
    As soon as everyone is seated and before anything is ordered, welcome your guests and share any pertinent information they need to keep the meal running smoothly.  If drinks or food items have been pre-ordered, this is the time to let everyone know what their choices will be if you haven’t already.
  9. The host begins the meal.
    Remind yourself that the meal officially begins when the host places her napkin on her lap.  And conversely, the dinner has ended when the host places her napkin on the table at the end of the meal. 
  10. Assist the conversation.
    Once everyone has ordered, make sure pleasant conversation has commenced.  You might offer a thank-you and/or a toast for celebrating the occasion.  “Thank you all for making your way here tonight to celebrate Bob’s twentieth year with our company.”
  11. Be on alert!
    Is everyone having a good time? Is conversation going well?  Does anyone seem to be left out?  As host, be prepared to chime in on, smooth over, or encourage pleasant conversation that includes everyone at the table.  If a problem occurs, always be kind and work for the best solution!
  12. End the meal.
    Conclude the dinner with a message of appreciation.  
  13. A nice send-off.
    Walk your guests out and verify that everyone’s transportation is secured.
  14. Say thank-you.
    Thank the restaurant staff, management, event planner, etc. who helped make your dinner a success. 

Keeping these fourteen items on your checklist when hosting restaurant dinners will help ensure your special events run smoothly.  Regardless of the occasion, your goal as host is always the same: give your guests a memorable experience that makes them feel appreciated.

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