Great Dinner Party Menu Ideas for 2018

Last Updated: Jul 19, 2018

Friends, family, food and fun: there’s no better way to spend a night than with a dinner party. However, sometimes the planning leading up to then can be stressful. What do you serve? Do guests have any food allergies? What about dessert? We’re here to help keep the planning stress-free with our resource on dinner party menu ideas.

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Dinner Ideas for Large Groups

Is your dining space dinner party ready? Before sending out those dinner party invites, make sure that there’s enough room in your chosen venue for all guests. Nothing ruins all the effort you put in to make your dinner look elegant than guests having to sit away from the table. Once you know exactly how many people you can fit, it’s time to start planning the dinner menu.

Serving 6-8 Dinner Guests

Six to eight dinner guests is often a sweet spot. This many people can typically fit at a large dining table comfortably. Note that most recipes serve four to eight people, so at most, you might have to double recipes. Fun recipes to fit this size of a group include simple, yet tasty dishes like this cast iron lamb chop dish paired with your favorite bottle of wine.

Skillet prepared lamb loins

Lamb Chops, as made by Kitchen Swagger

Serving 10-16 Dinner Guests

Making dinner for this large of a group gets a little trickier. Most hosts not only have to scale up their recipes, but also need extra seating. If you’re planning this size of a dinner, consider making use of outdoor seating, like a picnic, or using holiday dining set-ups, if you have them. Recipes that work for these larger groups include barbecue or crowd pleasers like this ultimate Lasagna recipe.

a lasagna dish on a plate

Most Amazing Lasagna dish, as made by The Stay at Home Chef

Serving 18+ People

Prepping dinner for this many people can often cause a headache. Instead of stressing out, try turning your giant dinner gathering into something fun. You can ask each guest to bring a dish, potluck style. Have everyone sit outside (these dinners work best on warm summer nights) and enjoy all the different dishes. Use sign-ups to make sure all your bases are covered with salad, meat, entrees, veggies, and dessert.

Casual Dinner Party Menu Ideas

Just because you’re hosting a cosy get together with a few close friends doesn’t mean your dish can’t impress. For casual dinner parties, you have more freedom to experiment with fun and creative dishes. Take advantage of a fun night in with these recipe ideas:

  • Baked Potato Bar: They’re easy to prep and tons of fun to serve. Prepare your baked potatoes far in advance and make sure you have all the toppings. Display the cheese, sour cream, butter, bacon bits, green onions, and any other toppings you like on decorative plates for a picture perfect presentation.
  • Pizza Party: Pizza making parties are tons of fun and easy for hosts with minimal prep work. Buy the sauce, cheese, and toppings and separate them into easy to grab bowls. You can either make the pizza dough from scratch or buy it pre-made from your local grocery store. This kind of dinner party is perfect for adults, or when kids are involved.

Young woman making pizza in domestic kitchen at home, with traditional pizza ingredients

Elegant Dinner Party Menu Ideas

Hosting an elegant evening with wine, good food, and great guests is a perfect way to celebrate a promotion, birthday, or other achievement. Make sure your party goes off without a hitch with these fancy food inspirations.

  • Fondue Appetizers: This popular food trend rose to popularity in the 70’s, but it’s officially back in style. Feature a hot pot of gruyere cheese and french bread cuts to impress your guests. You can also take it a step further by melting chocolate and your favorite nut topping to dip strawberries for dessert. This mouth watering food is best paired with a meat based main dish.
  • Mussels over Linguine with Garlic Butter Sauce: This classic main is a perfect dish to feature at your dinner party. It’s both comfort food and unique enough to leave a lasting impression on your guests.
Clams on a plated linguini pasta

Clams and Linguini with a Garlic Butter Sauce, as made by Kitchen Swagger

Fall Dinner Party Menu Ideas

The Autumn harvest makes a perfect excuse to host a dinner party. Get ready for the smells of spices, pumpkins, and roasts to waft out of your kitchen. Here’s two ideas to give you some seasonal inspiration.

  • Sweet Potato Casserole: This combines the best fall ingredients into a satisfying dish. It makes a perfect addition to any main course and leaves guests full and happy.

    sweet potato casserole being served

    Sweet Potato Casserole, as made by The Stay at Home Chef

  • Lamb Shank Pie: Forget about turkeys (you’ll eat plenty of that during Thanksgiving) and consider baking a Lamb Shank Pie. This dish combines our favorite parts of the autumn season: meats and pies. This requires preparing tender lamb with wine, onions, garlic herbs, stock, tomatoes, and spices, and then baking it within a puff pastry.

Summer Dinner Party Menu Ideas

Summer times makes a great excuse to host a garden dinner party. Celebrate the warmer months with a colorful food menu and plenty of friends and family. These dishes are both fun and easy to prepare.

  • Grilled Summer Vegetables: Zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions over the grill not only smell and took fantastic, but also make the flavors on your plate stand out. Pick out your favorite vegetables and summery seasonings, and let your creativity run.
  • Spicy Shrimp Tacos with a Creamy Lime Sauce: This dish is both picture perfect and plenty tasty. Tacos make great dinner party recipes because guests can assemble the tacos exactly how they like and it turns dinner into a social activity.
Plated Shrimp tacos

Shrimp Tacos with a creamy lime sauce, as made by Kitchen Swagger

Spring Dinner Party Menu Ideas

Spring brings with it blooming bouquets, bright colors, and a whole new menu to the dinner table. Kick off your year with a dinner party that highlights Spring’s coming with the ideas below.

  • Crispy Honey Mustard Chicken Recipe: It’s light, crispy, and packed with sweet and spicy flavor. This has all the makings of a spring themed meal. Plus it’s a simple dish that’s easy to make with a big payoff.
Honey Mustard and Lemon Crusted Chicken

Honey Mustard Crusted Chicken, as made by Kitchen Swagger

  • Spring Salad: With the theme in the name, this is a perfect complement dish for your dinner spread. Combine spring greens, feta, strawberries, almonds, dried cranberries, olive oil, and a little lemon juice for a jaw dropping salad.

Vegetarian Dinner Party Menu Ideas

Are you or your guests vegetarian, or are you just looking to take a break from meat heavy meals? If so, check out these ideas for inspiration for your next veggie-friendly dinner party.

  • Tomato-Basil Soup: This timeless classic is always a perfect fit to add to any dinner. It’s simple, delicious, and great for any season.
  • Baba Ganoush: This eggplant based dish is great as the main party dip. It’s a perfect dish to satisfy your hunger without making you feel stuffed and uncomfortable.
baba ganoush with pita bread

Baba Ganoush, as made by The Stay at Home Chef

More Resources for Dinner Parties

Once you’ve found your dinner menu inspiration, you may be looking for a few more ideas to make your dinner party stand out. If you want to impress guests from the start, consider using formal menu cards. Or, if you’d like to feature some first class drinks at your dinner party, check out our resource on cocktail party ideas. Most of all, don’t forget to take time to enjoy whatever you’ve decided to make.