On deciding who the dinner party is for, let people know probably one week or two in advance. This will give time for any alternate arrangements if anybody has to cancel, and also arrange the time, say maybe 7.30pm for drinks before dinner at 8pm. Have a choice of alcohol, non-alcoholic, and fruit drinks to choose from to suit all tastes, and a few nibbles dotted around the room. This allows for people to mingle, especially if a couple don't really know the other guests. Once all this has been achieved then the planning of the menu can be addressed, it is well worth checking out if any of the party has any food allergies, or if anybody is vegetarian, this will save embarrassment during the evening.
Consider the planning of the table. Is there going to be a lovely crisp white table cloth, creating color with napkins, or place mats? This is obviously the host's personal choice, depending on whether this is a formal or informal party. Other choices for the table may be some small candles, or small bowls of flowers, or a centerpiece.
When holding a dinner party, the choice of food needs to be addressed carefully. Don't try to cook a recipe you have never used before. This only ends in disaster, plus a huge embarrassment which nobody, the host or the guests want. If a new recipe is chosen, try it out a few weeks before the party a couple of times, till you are confident it will be all right on that night.
A great tip; sit down and plan the menu from start to finish jotting down all the fresh ingredients you will need, checking the cupboard to check that all the herbs you may use are in date, even down to the wine you will be serving with the food, and anything non-alcoholic for those who don't drink.
On the day of the dinner party, make sure to be up early for anything that you have to go and get that you forgot on the list, or fresh fish, meat, whatever the menu is. Check off items off your list as you get them.
It's a good idea to have everything involving the menu written down separate on a list, making it easier to keep track of things. If a starter can be made and kept in the freezer till about half an hour before the meal, then that is one course less to worry about, and the same goes for the dessert.
Everything that can be prepared in advance leaves it a lot less stressful for the host. Once all this has been taken care of, the table checked, the host showered and dressed, you can sit back calmly and wait for the guests to arrive.
One last tip; leave a new list in the kitchen pinned up and easy to read, when collecting the starters, to have a quick glance at the list to see what may need pulling out of the freezer, or putting into the oven, and the party should flow nicely.