How to Host a Dinner Party

We're Making It Easy for You

Hawaiian pizza on serving plate

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

We're letting you in on our new dinner party hosting secret: Forget cooking dinner. We mean it. Instead, lavish your time and effort on a spectacular dessert and a custom-for-the-night cocktail or two. After all, those are both more fun to make. Then order takeout or delivery from your favorite place.

When the goods arrive, put them in your own serving ware, bowls and platters, set the table with some pretty dinner sets, assign each guests their own wine charm so no one loses their glass, and gather whatever other entertaining must-haves that make your fete feel festive.

We've paired a cocktail and a couple of dessert recipes with each of the top eight types of takeout so everything harmonizes well. That's right, we just planned your next dinner party, and it's going to be so easy. You're welcome.

  • 01 of 05


    chorizo tacos

    Diana Chistruga

    When ordering tacos for a crowd, you're going to want to plan for 2-3 tacos per person, depending (you know your friends). Get a few different types of fillings, so people can mix and match. Add a smattering of sides like chips and salsa or guacamole, refried beans, elote, and Mexican rice and you've got a meal. Serve with:

  • 02 of 05


    Thai meal

    Thai lends itself well to serving the whole crew, since you can order a bunch of dishes and share them all. Make sure you get plenty of rice, so you've got enough for everyone. Try an order or two of pad thai, at least two satay skewers per person, an order each of red and green curry, and a salad, as well as whatever else strikes your fancy. Serve with:

  • 03 of 05


    Person holding a tray off barbecued meats and three side dishes

     Courtesy of ZZQ Texas Craft Barbecue

    When ordering barbecue, plan for about 1/3-1/2 pound of meat per person, depending on how much your group tends to eat. Then get a few pint containers of sides: one pint each of potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens, for four to six people should do it. And whatever you do, don't skip the cornbread. Serve with:

  • 04 of 05


    three pizzas

    After you finish arguing over which toppings you all prefer (ham and pineapple? Olives and pepperoni? Sausage and bell peppers?), account for about three slices of pizza per adult and two per child for standard, circular-cut pizzas. Add an order of breadsticks, garlic knots, and an antipasto salad to round it all out. Serve with:

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05



    When ordering Chinese for a crowd, one meat- or tofu-based entree for every two people and a mess of appetizers to share will do the trick. Get enough dumplings for everyone to have a couple, and a couple vegetable sides. Don't forget lots of rice. Serve with: