How to Plan a Dinner Party for 50. When holding a party for a large group, good planning is always the key.
Choose a date for your event. If you plan to honor any special guests - or there are guests on your list whose presence you particularly desire - make sure the date is convenient for them.
Evaluate your space. Be sure you have enough table space and chairs in your home or reserve a space for the party elsewhere. If you have the party somewhere else, decide how you will provide the food (catered, picnic-style, using a rented hall's kitchen, and so on).
Decide on your budget. Large dinner parties needn't be expensive: with a little ingenuity you can make a meal for very little money. Make your own decorations instead of ordering expensive flowers. Consider a potluck, a picnic, or other alternatives to a sit-down dinner.
Choose a theme or plan table centerpieces and a color scheme.
Make sure you have enough place settings, serving bowls and platters, serving utensils and other needed items. Borrow or rent these items if necessary.
Extend invitations, either by phone or written invitation. Give clear RSVP instructions.
Finalize your guest list by following up on guests who do not RSVP.
Make all the arrangements for any space rental, entertainment (such as a band or DJ), catering, other hired help (such as cleanup staff), photographer, flowers, or other large expenses and commitments at least two weeks before the event.
Prepare a timetable for all other tasks, leaving as little as possible for the day of the event. Include space in your timetable for things that might go wrong.
If you're cooking, plan each dish and make an appropriate shopping list. (See "How to Cook Dinner for 50" for tips on cooking.)
Be sure to let your guests know about appropriate attire for the evening. If you have a potluck, have guests sign up to bring different types of food (dessert, main dish, salad, side dish, drinks), or assign them a category - you don't want to end up with 50 batches of brownies. If dinner seems overwhelming, consider having a dessert party, tea party, or cocktail party instead of dinner.